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School board to learn more about teaching teachers at meeting today

Original post made on Apr 9, 2013

The Pleasanton School Board will learn more about instructional coaching at a study session set for later today.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 7:49 AM

Comments (28)

Posted by hmmm, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2013 at 8:14 am

If we're adding staff, it should be child facing, not teaching teachers. Our teachers are very well qualified, that's why they get paid much more than the average for the country or the state. They know what they are doing. They need extra bodies to teach children, not teach teachers.

School board please pay attention and get the funding going the right direction. I realy dislike how school board meetings are used like this to "educate" and make us feel better about decisions that are not child facing.


Posted by AnnaS, a resident of Foothill High School
on Apr 9, 2013 at 8:36 am

Teaches of California get paid more than the average for the country not because they are best qualified but because California teachers unions are most powerful and most corrupt in the country. Continuous teachers' education makes perfect sense, but it should not be paid by taxpayers money. Teachers should become personally responsible for their performance; schools should be able to fire under-performed teachers and to hire non-unionized teachers who are better qualified for a job. In California "no child left behind" policies are replaced by "no union member left behind". Good for union bosses, bad for the future of California.


Posted by Jane, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 9, 2013 at 9:08 am

The article doesn't present enough information to support a pro or con view. Having belonged to a union twice in my life, I found union membership uplifts morale (as well as quality of life) and contributes to a more productive work environment. Those against unions tend to be damaged people who never learned how to work with others.


Posted by Kristin, a resident of Castlewood
on Apr 9, 2013 at 12:08 pm

My daughter's first grade class has 30 students. The teacher is incredibly busy trying to meet all of the different needs. The challenges and differences in the students is astounding. She is a gifted teacher, I have watched and am so impressed with how she balances and handles it all. I cannot imagine how any more training will help with these numbers. There are children who need to be pulled out for extra help...there just are! This idea of teaching the teachers is ridiculous. They need help from other specialists and teachers, they need less children in the class, they do not need further training.
AnnaS, teachers here are paid well because they are quality teachers and because the cost of living is high. Everyone here gets paid more. If I got paid what my teacher sister in Michigan does I would be homeless...but she does fine there. It's the bay area, how can you even compare?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 9, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Posted by Jane: "Those against unions tend to be damaged people who never learned how to work with others."

How do you draw that conclusion? I have never participated in a union, but nearly everyone I worked with belonged to one union or another or was under contract. Working with others was never about who belonged to what; it was about collaboration, work ethic, and building relationships, often outside the office. All those can occur regardless of affiliations.

Teacher training can be a value add, be that through specialists (once called TOSAs, Teachers on Special Assignment--teachers teaching best practices in a given subject area to other teachers) or through staff development (sometimes in house, sometimes via conferences). Like anything, it can be a huge waste if guidelines and goals aren't set first. I think you will find teachers appreciate time to work with each other outside the classroom.


Posted by Jane, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm

It's a shame, Kathleen, that you never participated in a union. No doubt you'd have experienced a more healthy and secure work environment, a greater sense of collective solidarity, an elevated sense of justice, and higher morale among your colleagues. So, too, you'd have had the opportunity to learn of your own shortcomings. I'm not a psychologist, but people, say, who have large egos that, at the same time, have very weak egos soon learn that their large ego needs tend to get in the way of others, and their weak ego displays promote distrust among colleagues.

Again, since the above article is so skimpy on details, my own ego needs are such that I can easily refrain from advocating one position or another.


Posted by Frank Lynn, a resident of Donlon Elementary School
on Apr 9, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Time and time again - parents have told the school board - our #1 priority is class size reduction. But apparently the board doesn't hear very well, because they pushed to hire more administrators instead. And now "instructional coaches." Everything but the #1 will of the community. Even PPIE has started pushing the instructional coach issue - I don't think most parents would want their PPIE donations going to this.

Teacher mentoring programs are fine. And mentors should be compensated extra. But I don't see how Pleasanton Unified can justify $100K+ for an outside coach. If the teachers were asking for this, I'd at least understand. But it sounds like they are not.

Coaches might make sense for an underperforming school district with a lot of new school teachers. But looking at Pleasanton's teacher workforce and it seems that many of them are long-time, experienced teachers. And just look at Pleasanton Unified's metrics - the reason people move to Pleasanton. Would I hire a special batting coach and force my players to spend time with him if my baseball team already had the best batting average in the league?

Teacher unionization was meant to protect good teachers from having to play politics should board members or administrators seek to dismiss them for personal or political reasons not based on performance - but unfortunately unions also protect poor performing teachers who aren't very good. But remove unionization from the picture, and no one in their right mind would want the job, and schools would lose countless talent.

I'd like to know what the teachers want?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 9, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Jane, It isn't a shame at all. There are many more reasons that I work and play well with others other than having union members around me--family expectations for one; a strong work ethic, built long before I worked with members, is another. I'm not advocating for instructional aides or CSR; just an observation from where I worked with very dedicated TOSAs. You may not have seen that I have frequently said that I believe current parents should determine priorities for their children.


Posted by hmmm, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Agree totally with Frank. The teachers are not saying they need coaches or time to confer with each other. They are saying they desperately need more teachers to help educate our children to their full potential in smaller class sizes. My children have had excellent teachers across the board. They are doing their best and they are GOOD. But they need smaller class sizes, not this ridiculous coaching plan.

They'll do what they what the administrators want though. I can already see the board nodding sagely as they hear some bs about why this is a great idea.


Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm

You see hmmm... it's important for the board to be educated on current best practices for improving our schools since they are not trained educators. I can see it's also important for the community to be educated since so many of these posts are not reflecting any understanding of the purpose of professional development, the effectiveness of coaches for professional development, or what the lack of prof. dev. has done to our district over the last years of cost cutting measures. What many of you have described certainly is not the "business model" for improving the work place, so why do you cry for that to take place in our schools?

I love your analogy Frank, because it is perfect for why we need coaches. You see, the game is about to change. With new common core standards and a new testing system is being implemented over the next two years, there is a lot of coaching that needs to take place so teachers are prepared.

Have you read professional resources about what is happening in cutting edge public education these days? Read Edutopia.com to start, read KQED's Mind Shift, find out the enormous advancements that are currently taking place in learning and realize that the need for training teachers is a part of what makes it all work.


Posted by Hmmmm, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Fix the main issues first, huge class sizes. Then, if there is enough money, do the trendy stuff. Don't take CSR money to pay for this.


Posted by Jane, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Here we go again. A large ego gets injected into the conversation, and now we must all suffer the weak ego's cloying efforts to gain community approbation. Perhaps had she learned a strong work ethic in _conjunction_ with others, she'd be less prone to the distracting pursuit of community acceptance that, for her, eclipses all others' considerations and, unfortunately, which appears to be her signature (and highly redundant) trait. A trait, I might add, that is foreign to a cooperative work ethic as found in workers' unions and/or cooperatives. Damaged goods, as stated previously.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Don't see tonight's meeting on tv, they're broadcasting march 26th again. Odd.


Posted by You lost the focus, a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Apr 9, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Pay attention to the article - under law, we have to add some teacher trainers. This is because of No Child Left Behind and the PI status of PMS and Valley View. Although Pleasanton Middle School is now in Safe Harbor, the entire district is in PI and the law says they need to hire trainers.

By 2014, every single district in the country will be in this similar situation. Unless, of course, NCLB goes away.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2013 at 8:58 pm

It's fine to do it where they have to do it - two schools. The problem is that they are replacing reading specialists who worked with the kids with teacher trainers in the other schools too. The ones that score at the very top.

Put out the fire first. And listen to the teachers.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2013 at 9:04 pm

The article clearly says it's just two schools. And why PPIE was raising money for this, thus ruining any chance for the CSR fundraising is beyond me. We've gone private for the areas we feel are now missing for our kids in the classroom and aren't donating until the CSR issue is resolved.


Posted by Frank Lynn, a resident of Donlon Elementary School
on Apr 9, 2013 at 10:34 pm

@ Get Educated - The mission and purpose of public education in Pleasanton will not change despite whatever standards get implemented at the federal/state/local level. Or if it does, we are doomed and whether or not to hire instructional coaches will be the least of our worries.

It kind of sounds like you're advocating for hiring coaches who will know how to "teach to the test" instead of instilling academic skills children will need for success in the workplace as adults. To me, I'd rather a child walk away from school with reading/writing and math skills, critical thinking and reason skills as well as problem solving abilities, instead of scoring well on the API or making the Feds behind the horrid No Child Left Behind happy.

Professional development is one thing - but I'd like to give teachers the leeway for self-determination and let them focus on areas where they want to grow. Having additional outsiders breathing down their necks when they're already doing a great job seems unnecessary - especially when budget cuts mean prioritization of scarce resources.

I read the Edutopia blogs by coaches such as Oakland's Elena Aguilar seeking to justify their existence and salaries - but, to use her own argument for "using data to inform practice" - coaching doesn't purport to actually influence student outcomes, but to "help create the conditions necessary for instructional practices to change and student outcomes to improve." It also seems like the main theme behind coaching is to "transform schools."

Aren't student outcomes pretty good at Pleasanton schools already? Do they really need a "cultural transformation" other than to have reduced class sizes and better use of resources as dictated by the local community?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 9, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Jane says: "Perhaps had she learned a strong work ethic in _conjunction_ with others" . . . as if I learned and worked in isolation. I talk with people who agree or disagree with me all the time. There is no animosity; no one is seeking approval from the other; it's just thoughtful and thought provoking discussion. Most often, there is more common ground than not.

Our children benefited from strong PUSD schools and that generation of families spoke for what they wanted, including unification and the bonds that built better facilities (and which the community is still paying). So, while I personally believe there are other approaches to CSR, I support the current generation of families who hold CSR as the priority for their children.




Posted by Get Educated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2013 at 8:34 pm

I appreciate your reply Frank- I can see I might have been unclear from the response you gave-
" I'd rather a child walk away from school with reading/writing and math skills, critical thinking and reason skills as well as problem solving abilities, instead of scoring well on the API or making the Feds behind the horrid No Child Left Behind happy."

- This is exactly what kind of training Im speaking of. The new standards are all about critical thinking, depth and complexity with topics. The reality is that standardized tests are still a part of the new standards and very different than the old system. Looking at assessment requirements is just part of the learning process, this is not about learning to teach to the test, it's simply part of the "rules to the new game".

Research has shown that the quality of instruction is one of the key factors for student success and professional development is key to keeping instructional practices up to date and current. With a whole new ballgame coming to our schools, this training will be important for the quality of learning to keep raising.

Here is a good article from Edutopia about the new changes Web Link
PUSD has been starting this process long before now with a detailed plan for the the next upcoming years. I went to the parent info night where this was all explained.

What you posted from the other article- ""help create the conditions necessary for instructional practices to change and student outcomes to improve." This is exactly the point of the training needed. This is not about changing or transforming schools. Funding for teacher training is a very positive use of funds that will directly benefit every student immediately, not just the few who receive selective services.


Posted by Jane, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 10, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Kathleen, you're too much, really. Broken record. "I said this, but I meant something different, really." "I support Pleasanton schools, I really do." "Please give me your affirmation, I need it so badly." "I get along with everybody, truly I do, just not on these threads because my hypocritical and contradictory views are fair game for those with an intellect." Like I say, damaged goods.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 10, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Jane, Where have I contradicted myself? If you need proof of my support, contact the district. I volunteer as well. I don't get along with everyone; you would be a prime example of someone who tries to cause conflict where there isn't any.


Posted by Jane, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Sorry, Kath, not going to go there. Every conversation Kath has ends up being about Kath repairing her punctured self-image. Right, Kath, I'm going to contact the district to learn more about you. Nice sense of proportion (not), but when it's all about a bloated ego that endlessly seeks affirmation from others a sense of proportion is bound to be lacking.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 10, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

So Jane, donations now go through the district. It's not a lack of proportion; just a fact. If you can't make an appearance at the DO, you can come introduce yourself.


Posted by psychobabble 101, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 12:21 am

Kathleen, Yikes, "Jane," the school district's/PTA's or whatever very own very Dr. Phil is back.

This is the person who always posts some sort of psychobabble e.g., "Those that do not adhere to the command and control directives of the administrative overlords of the District must be: 1) insane 2) damaged 3) disturbed 4) all of the above.

You have to see the humor in the postings: I love "Those against unions tend to be damaged people who never learned how to work with others."


Posted by Jane, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 12:56 am

I know enough to recognize a single poster, using the names of Steve, AnnaS, Lib is a Disease, psychobabble101, chemist, wm tell, among others. And I don't think I'm in a minority when, in assessing a certain poster's psychological state, I select number 4 above. Probably your parents' fault. Wow, what a number they put on you. Rural area? Isolated from neighbors? No social services that might have monitored your home life? And we get a 'libertarian' who must renounce all that is social in an effort to suppress the social influences that would explain his dysfunctional personality. Unions are ordinarily pretty flexible institutions that tolerate quite a bit of diversity. That you weren't able to fit speaks volumes regarding 1, 2, 3, and 4 above.


Posted by psychobabble 101, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2013 at 1:17 am

Thank you for the inspiration Dr. Phil, I mean Jane. You are the modern messiah! You should really go out and get that psychology license! Or maybe still, you can get a psychology license to go coach others how to practice psychology. What a concept!

Think about it. You can get hired by PUSD. Instructional coaches, psychological coaches, superintendent in training coaches, life coaches...what we need in the school system is MORE and MORE coaches and administrators.

Next, form your own coach union please. It will make you feel secure and worthy. It will uplift morale. Call it the PCPA - Pleasanton Coaches and Para-Psychologists Association.

Remember you can change what you do acknowledge.


Posted by liberalism is a disease, a resident of Birdland
on Apr 11, 2013 at 8:47 pm

liberalism is a disease is a registered user.

Jane, you're a nutcase and giving even union thugs a bad (worse) name. Take your ego, diversity and dysfunction to the Central Valley, where the workers and 'citizens' don't know any better. I sure hope someone with your mental capacity does not have weapons.


Posted by Vernon Parker, a resident of Civic Square
on Apr 11, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Jane, shoot an arrow into the air and watch where it lands. Common theme? The recipient of your arrow -- stress: singular -- has no argument, only mud to sling at you. Why doesn't he go after your argument, which I found convincing? Can't, that's why. You win, and the poor petulant little boy(s) can only sling mud.


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