You know. When asked by most people what I do for a career, the response I most often get when telling them I am a school teacher is... "Man, you must really love those summers off!?"

Really. Is this what we have come to think of the public educator?

Ten years ago, when I was a senior in high school I decided to commit my life to education. Not just any kind of education either, but rather education for change. (I swear I thought of it before Obama.) I sat in my classes and thought to myself, as millions of other students do now, what are they teaching me? How does this way of education prepare me for life following high school, college, and beyond?

I am a twenty eight year old public educator who has been at the same school for going on six years now. I try to push the envelope in the classroom on a daily basis, integrating as many classroom 2.0 technologies as I can, and preparing MY students for life after.

My confession: we are failing our students because we refuse as a society to respect the field of public education. A field that our students futures hang on - we lack respect for.

My district recently pushed for a "curriculum guide" [aka "big brother"] in American History. The people who build the curriculum at the district handed out the guide to teachers the Thursday prior to the start of school on the following Monday. How can we allow something like this to happen, in a country where we push accountability?

The fact is that we do many things in the education field, but we do none of them well. The system is failing our students, our educators, our communities, and our society. It is because of a lack of respect.

The time for change is now. We must begin with giving respect to the system... respecting it enough to be willing to change it. Respecting the education system to admit that standardization is not the answer. Respecting it enough to ask the professional educators which direction to head in. Respecting it enough to incorporate and explore new technologies that surround our students in the world in which they live.

Respecting it enough to not ask an educator how great it must be to have summers off, but rather thank them.

Until we respect the system, we can not change the system.

Copy this into an email and send it to an educator that you know.

It's good to be back! More to come...

Mike Meechin

flickr photo by gwaar


Teachable Moments

I was reading a Betty Ray article from Edutopia, where she brought up some great food for thought. Ray discussed the actions of celebrities and politicians, but more importantly the impact those actions have on our students.

The question that she posed at the end of the article got me to thinking. "Do you embrace them, talk about them, invite discussion? Or do you ignore and move on?" - This question caught my attention... as I do the latter of the two. This is something that I had never thought about... most likely because the nonstop duties in the classroom. The antics of these celebs is something that my colleagues and I usually only discuss around the teacher lunch room table. They are not topics that find their way into the classroom... at least not mine. However, I think that these actions could be every teachers dream - a teachable moment!

Next time that Kanye rocks the mic [when it's not his mic to rock] or Serena goes on a profanity riddled tirade, I will teach. I will discuss these people, whom my students look up to and admire. I will use the teachable moment to discuss what their thoughts on the matter are. Hopefully my students will come away with a better understanding of how to deal with situations in life that may arise. Too often we in the public education sector are so focused on standards, AYP and such that we forget that "life happens" and we must address and teach about these issues even more so.

We should be taking advantage of every teachable moment that comes along. Thanks Betty.

Your thoughts?

More to come...

Mike Meechin



So, I was in Boston this past weekend getting married, and have been playing catch up on the Obama speech to students hoopla. Today I watched the President's speech on my JetBlue flight back to Orlando.

What was the problem? Are people, parents and school districts, so caught up in partisanship that they cannot allow students to hear from the figurehead of this nation? There was no political slant in today's speech, and had there been, then shame on Obama. But, there was none. The speech was good old... "get down to business and work hard". What's wrong with that?

Following the President's speech MSNBC interviewed a man from the San Antonio Tea Party who claimed that the lesson plans that were put out by the DOE were in violation of federal law.


His argument was that our children should not have to write down their dreams and aspirations. Is this where we are as a society? The "Tea Party" man also had an issue in a previous interview with MSNBC where teachers get to decide about showing the speech to their students. Also, I am sick of people comparing the Obama speech to students across the country to the speeches of Chairman Mao.


Alright, here is my take... the school district that I work for did not want students to view the speech live, this after parental complaints poured in. They also issued a district wide email to teachers declaring that you would have to see how the speech aligned to the Sunshine State Standards before you show it to students. This is crazy to me. In a speech where the President called on students to put some effort into their education - to not quit on their country by dropping out - to ask questions and find out what they are great at - we are not allowing students to view this.

It seems to me that if the President of the United States wants to speak with the students of the United States then he should be able to do so. No matter what parents, school districts, or anyone thinks. I am on the front lines in the classroom and I know that this message that the President brought to the airwaves is EXACTLY what they need to hear. Let me know your thoughts on this post or the President's speech or people's response to the speech.

My apologies for the diatribe.

PS Here is the link to the "Tea Party" interview: You Tube Tea Party Interview

More to come...

Mike Meechin


Chivalry is Dead.

After some serious reflection about my last post and also David Warlick's Teacher Shock post, I have some things I want to get out. So here goes.

Chivalry is dead.

The more that I talk with my students the more I learn about the lack of their knowledge base. As my wedding is now just four days away, I have been discussing... and they have been questioning me about the process. The students that sit in my classroom lack the knowledge background to understand even the marriage process and what this means. It makes me wonder what else they do not know.

Will these young men and women know how to date, how to meet a significant others parents, how to, when the time comes, propose... get married... raise a family? Or, is chivalry dead?

Warlick blogged, "What they learn well, they learn because it helps them. Knowledge and skills are tools for them, which they learn to use to accomplish goals. Their goals are to reach some level in the video game of the day, or to generate conversation through their social networking. To me, the question should be, 'How do we infect these information ecosystems with the knowledge and skills that we know will be essential to their future.'"

I agree... however it makes me wonder what the discussions that take place on their social networking sites entail. Are the video games they play condoning violence, specifically toward women? What are the lyrics they are listening to on their iPods as they walk around with their friends saying to them, or about society? These outlets are so integral to young peoples' lives, but what content are they learning from these technologies?

I am all for integration and delivery of instruction using these "information ecosystems", but I fear that these outlets are replacing the teacher-student relationship. What happens next?

Maybe Pilgrims and their automobiles (or their lack there of) are not the most important things in the world for my students to learn. But what about "life"... is that important, or will technology "teach" it to them... or better yet...

Is chivalry dead? Let me know your thoughts.

More to come...

Mike Meechin


Traversing the Information Gap

In David Warlick's response (Teacher Shock) to my "What are we doing?" post he brings up a great point; "But they have missed so much, and I do not know how to fill this gap." Warlick writes.

These students truly have missed so much. My fear is for my high school students post-graduation. Where will they ever get this information that they have missed? Our schools are not designed as a whole to produce independent critical thinkers - even though everything the districts push down through the ranks demands "making" critical thinkers out of our students. So, if the schools are not designed to fill these information gaps, we as educators must do it in the classroom.

A lot of the information that Warlick blogs about are the methods we need to be taking hold of in the classroom.... helping to fill the information gaps that our students suffer from.

The question is how do we get the districts, states and federal government to fill the information gaps with us? What are your thoughts?

More to come...

Mike Meechin

flickr photo by martin werker


What Are We Doing?

Today was a defining moment for me in my educational career. Today I encountered a question from a high school junior as we were discussing the founding of the American colonies in the early 1600s. The student asked a question about the pilgrims using the automobile. I was not sure how to respond, other than to correct and clarify that the auto came almost 400 years later.

After my day ended and I was able to reflect on this young adult's question, I had only one thing on my mind...

What are we doing?

Here is what I see. But I am only a professional educator, what do I know? I see students that are lacking so much real-world knowledge that are one year away from high school graduation. My classroom is filled with the "Standardization Generation", who know nothing other than math, reading and writing. We are developing children to pass a test... that is all. I challenge any politician, superintendent, principal that says otherwise. I challenge them to step foot in my classroom and answer the questions of my students.

Is Detroit a state? Did the Pilgrims drive cars? The Pacific Ocean is off the east coast of Florida. What is a state?

What are we doing?

These "Standardization Generation" students have become "dumbed" down by the standardization of education. This is a fact. I do not care what research says; I do not care what experts say; I do not care what districts demand. We are selling a generation of students short, and the public systems are failing them. These children will not be able to function post "public school". Sure, they'll be able to read a little, write a little, and do a little math. However, what happens when this students sits in a college classroom? What happens when this student interviews for a position? What happens when this student has to teach his or her children? Shame on us.

What are we doing?

More to come...

Mike Meechin


Fresh New Presentations in the Classroom.


That's the response my classroom filled with young minds had when seeing my first presentation using Prezi [www.prezi.com]. What a huge compliment from a group of people who have their minds stimulated by a wide array of eye popping creations ranging from iPods to PSPs to XBox 360s. To get the "wow" reaction is something to write home about.

Prezi is a presentation program that creates flash videos. Your Prezis work off of a concept map instead of using slides as in most traditional presentations. It is truly a magnificent piece for the classroom, addicting as well. My colleagues and I had created several over the past few days just for the fun of it.

The site does offer a free account, which is what I have been using. This is a great option for those who may want to check it out. The do offer additional plans at a couple of different price points. What a great piece of technology that I just had to share.


More to come....

Mike Meechin


Comparing Apples to Oranges = ?

So, as I was sitting in the third hour of our welcome back pep rally professional development workshop today, many questions came to mind. As we began to tear our data apart from last school year we [the faculty] began to question the relevancy of the data. Here is what happened.

We were comparing two year data, that of 9th and 10th grade students that had taken the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test [FCAT]. We were comparing 2008 data with that of 2009 data to see is students made learning gains. Now, here is where I take issue.

If comparing two sets of data, that of 2008 and 2009, we should be comparing the same group of students, right? However, we were comparing data from 9th and 10th grade students from 2008 and comparing that with the results from 9th and 10th grade students from 2009. This data is not from the same group of students, how can it be relevant in telling us anything about learning gains? The 2008 9th graders became 10th graders, their data is relevant. But, the 10th graders in 2008 became 11th graders in 2009 and their data was not taken into consideration. The 9th graders in 2009 were actually 8th graders in 2008, again their data is not being compared either.

So, to sum up... we are comparing data from a two year period to examine learning gains, but from two different groups of student data. This is how we are grading schools and assessing student needs. Your thoughts?

More to come...

Mike Meechin

flickr photo by dslrphotos


Being the "D".

I begin work again tomorrow as a public educator. I have been at the same school now for six years, and the end of the summer is here. My school is one that is labeled by the Florida Dept. of Education as being a "D", based on student scores from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test [FCAT]. Which, brings me to my point. What does being a "D" mean?

This diatribe was sparked by my reading of David Warlick's work on his 2 Cents Worth blog. He writes with a consistent message in mind... Is standardization the key? While I have no simple answer... well, actually yes I do... NO. However, this is a bit more complex than a one word answer. My "D" school is not that at all. If you listen to the suits in Tallahassee, they will tell you that our students are not performing to the standards set by the state... and they would be right.

But, back to Warlick's question, is standardization the key? My school, its faculty, and its students would tell you no, it is not. I believe that we are bringing them in the wrong direction, setting the wrong bars, with the wrong standards. If you came into our school (something I would challenge any politician to take time to do) you would see learning going on. It may not always be the one size fits all kind of learning. However, it is learning nonetheless. You would see our population of students, ones whom have many daily challenges in life, learning about life. But yet, with all of this learning happening... we are still a "D". If being a "D" means that we educate students in ways that they need to be educated, well then I will take it.

I think that is the answer to Warlick's question. We need to educate students in ways they need to be educated... not in the way standards tell us we need to educate.

More to come...

Mike Meechin