Are You Doing "VIVA"?

I'm told that there's something interesting going at VIVA -- teachers weighing in on specific things they'd like to see change or do.  It's being touted as an "ideas exchange," and they're talking about the schedule and the calendar (among other things).  Check it out and tell us what you think, or how it's going if you've already participated.  Useful?  Waste of time?  Let us know.  Apparently every teacher in CPS got an email about this yesterday.




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  • Sounds like great idea - however, completely contradicts Brizard eliminating AMPS - CPS no longer permits even the 'good' CPS schools from making school based decisions…suddenly they want teacher input? come on! When you work for CPS, give up any notion of academic license…do what you are told when you are told to do it, pretend that it's a great idea; otherwise, keep your mouth shut.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Yes, however if he thinks that the former AMPS schools are going to stop doing what they have been doing in order to adopt some district wide curriculum he's kidding himself. There are principals in this system that still know how to stick up for their teachers and students and they aren't going to roll over and just take it. They'll find a way to avoid the mandates just like they always have.

    Let's face it, teachers do what they want behind closed doors. That both works against and for the students depending on the teacher. It's sad to see a bad teacher persisting with bad curriculum when something better is being handed to them. But, I've also seen teachers doing the opposite. Like secretly teaching with real books instead of a scripted reading curriculum. Shocking!

    In the end exceptions will be made for those high performing schools. You can take away the AMPS label but not the special treatment that they will get. (Which usually includes getting to make decisions but doesn't include any money.) Especially when you have a powerful and politically connected parent base. Or maybe it isn't special treatment at all. Maybe it's just that the central office is too disorganized to keep track of everything so they let stuff at high performing schools slide. I'll take either one, as long as I'm off the radar and I can actually teach!

  • You have to be a classroom teacher to even view more than a few sentences of selected posts on VIVA. I can understand needing to be a teacher to post, because that is the purpose of the site. For the ideas to be considered, they must be seen.

  • In reply to COwonk:

    You are absolutely correct--if teachers' ideas aren't heard, they can't be considered. The goal of VIVA is to allow teachers a space of their own to collaborate and develop ideas together. Half-baked ideas seen don't have much impact. Here's how VIVA works:
    Step 1--brainstorming by any and all teachers
    Step 2--a writing collaborative of the brainstormers, dive deeper, identify actionable ideas generated, and write them up in detail
    Step 3--the action plan is seen, considered and used by the rest of us.
    The community benefits from patience and giving teachers time to develop their ideas. If you are a teacher, join now and you can participate. If you are not a teacher, we are confident you will find the ideas worth the wait.

  • In reply to EEisme:

    How about the schools of education first telling the mayor that his education policies are crap and NOT research based! The schools of education are accommodationists. Instead of advocating for their students and the students of CPS, they use Federal Tax Money to come up with stuff like VIVA! The professors of schools of education have the research to take apart the NON RESEARCH based policies of Rahm and Brizards CPS but are SILENT. NLU, get some stones and tell it like it is and advocate for your present students of education and your former students in the trenches.

    Graduate of NLU

  • Welcome to the school system Rahm's own children will not have to suffer, the CPS Testing Factory School District. Say no to Rahm/Brizard/Duncan vision of schooling. These corporate tools, are setting up public education to fail, so that privatization does happen. Rahm/Brizard organization chart shows NO ONE with a genuine world class reputation on transforming school districts and having gone through the whole process of developing teacher leadership in school communities. Rahm and Brizard are still pushing a factory model of schooling. CPS does NOT follow practices of world class school districts around the world. It is scandalous that a city like Chicago continues hiring incompetent administrators for the job of transforming schools and policy that is not supported by research.

    Do what works in world class school districts around the world. Teachers teach less but collaborate and evaluate more on what matters most, during the school day. The use of observation and tools like video in a formative manner. While there is collaboration by teachers, students are instructed by certified teachers. No cutting of teachers but hiring more, to support the collaboration of teachers and administrators.

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    One important note that may be missing here:

    To my knowledge, the VIVA Project is an independent non-profit that is not a program of CPS. The goal of VIVA reflects the sentiments of the commenters above: provide a forum for teachers who are on the ground, in the classrooms, and seeing the effects of current education policy.

    Further, each VIVA Project is short-term. It lasts for a set number of weeks; is done in a secure fashion so that teachers can feel free to openly discuss the issue at hand in the Project; and culminates in a written report/proposal and often face-to-face presentation with the relevant policy makers.

    It seems as though there might be some confusion over VIVA. From the outside looking in, it seems to be a great opportunity for teachers to raise their voice and advocate for policy change on the local, state, and national level.

    You can see more about VIVA at their main website, including reports that were generated from a VIVA NY project and a VIVA national project:

  • Recommendations against over-testing have been made for years - CPS increases testing. Recommendations for teacher retention have been made for years - CPS terminates teachers. Recommendations for smaller-class sizes have been made for years - CPS increases class sizes. Recommendations against an overuse of 'initiation-response-evaluation' models of pedagogy - CPS rigidly enforces the pattern. Recommendations for instructional support have been made for years and then comes along the Ortega letter.

    CPS executives have no intention of improving schools - they care about big cash contracts and real-estate holdings. As for kids and teachers? they're just little plastic pieces in the Hasbro Monopoly game.

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