Monday, February 16, 2009

The DOE's Rigid Use Of The "Worshop Model" Has Resulted In Poor Student Preformance And Charges Of Teacher Incompetence

The not so great minds at Tweed have mandated that classroom instruction should rigidly follow the "Workshop Model" with little or no adjustments to account for the teacher style or student population. In many schools the Administrators actually micromanage the teachers to ensure complete compliance to the "Workshop Model". In the diverse NYC Public school system to use a "one-size-fits-all- approach" is dangerous for student learning. Remember, students are not widgets and teachers are not cogs. Different learning styles should be approached with a variety of teaching techniques. However, in today's DOE this opinion cannot be found, especially among the top bureaucrats.

What is wrong with the "Workshop Model"? Let me count the ways. The workshop model was developed with a moderate sized class sizes and with a homogeneous academic group of students. A very different reality then what we have in our schools where academically poor students are intermixed with ELA and academically proficient students..The UFT back in 2005 wrote about its problems in the secondary schools Here! Further, the "Workshop Model" has some very real weaknesses. First, it is not geared to individualized learning which makes its use for ELA and special education students a serious problem. Second, the "Workshop Model" allows for too much socialization within the student groups and classroom management issues. Finally, the "Workshop Model" inhibits creative learning and individualized instruction, the neediest students are left behind!

The DOE's blind rigidity to the "Workshop Model" is not what the author intended. In a statement at a teachers workshop Lucy Calkins [one of the leaders of the balanced literacy movement] dropped in to talk to us at a recent workshop. She said the workshop model was not to be used for all teaching and thought it was crazy to teach a social studies lesson in 10 minutes. She also restated that balanced literacy is based on teachers making their own decisions about what their students need. The suggested mini-lessons were only meant to help teachers until they learned the balanced literacy methods." The quote was found in the newspaper article Here . I guess the DOE forgot that part of it.

What is even more nefarious is how the Workshop Model" is being used to determine veteran teachers incompetent. There is a directed movement by the TPU to bring incompetence charges on these teachers based upon the "Workshop Model". It is almost laughable that a misused educational program is being used to determine teacher incompetence. However, it is true.

The union should immediately attack the rigid application of the "Workshop Model" and tear apart the DOE in trying to pin teacher incompetence by its use. No other respond is acceptable.


17 (really 15) more years said...

I wish I could have that quote by Lucy Calkins (about it being ridiculous to teach a social studies- or science-lesson in 10 minutes) on a bumper sticker.

Seriously- I wish I knew where that was written, I know a few administrators who could use to read it.

Anonymous said...

the workshop model doesn't work with special ed kids. They need basal readers and a phonics approach. turn and talk only promotes conversation with the kids nothing to do with the subject being taught. the kid's are concrete thinkers, and the workshop model assumes they can come up with questions and discussions out of the air. The workshop model is being taught outside of NYC as well, which is a shame. If we were taught with basal readers, why can't the next generation be taught with the same method? How can the schools assume that the teacher read all the books in the library? I would like the principals to take a test to see if they read all the books.

NYC Educator said...

Really I don't think there is any model that fits all sizes and situations. It's sheer ignorance that they keep wheeling them out, and there's a 100% possibility this model will be replaced with another absolutely indispensable model which will also fail to work.

Anonymous said...

As a social studies teacher in a middle school, I have devised an equivalent "workshop model" that I infuse with my version of "differentiation." For 5 minutes I introduce a topic. For 10minutes I watch the students ask each other for paper and pens. Then I watch them write their heading, taking another 10 minutes (25 mins. so far)...5 more minutes to write the Aim and Do Now, 5 minutes to text message their friends, and 5 to copy the homework. That's 40 minutes. When this doesn't work, I take them next door into differentiated room!

yomister said...

I've had mixed results with cooperative learning arrangements, particularly with special education students in small settings. That said, I've also had some real success with the model (I generally limit cooperative groups to only 10 minutes for practicing a new skill and at minimum of 15 for independent work). Overall, I think you have better results when the cooperative learning portion of the class is time bound and routine in your classroom. That said, I've also have had classes where cooperative learning was not academically appropriate.

moriah said...

I have been researching the Workshop Model because administrators have used it to give me U-rated observations. There is an interesting article by Barbara Feinberg called "The Lucy Calkins Project". It was written back in 2007 and can be found on the website "Hoover Institution"

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