Friday, May 25, 2007

What Every Thinking Person in the Universe Needs to Know About NCLB

Contemplating my upcoming hiatus from the classroom -

To say that my feelings are mixed about leaving the classroom is an understatement. I LOVE teaching. I love the students (at least most of them) and I love watching them have Aha! moments as they assimilate information. I’m going to miss the energy of the classroom, with all of its unpredictability. I love the literature we study and the way reading makes you human – how it enlarges your soul and increases the heart’s capacity to empathize.I love my colleagues – intelligent, dedicated, capable, funny, gracious, generous, and AMAZINGLY sane. Plus, they understand my twisted sense of humor.

What I don’t love: report cards. Conferences. Grade grubbers. Enabling parents. Hovering parents. Passive Aggressive parents. Parents in Denial. Mean parents. I will not miss staff development. NCLB, PLCs, FQLs, CAI, POS, SOLs, and all the other county effing initiatives. I will not miss the inept and unprofessional division level department coordinator who likes only to hear herself talk, and will not listen to anyone else. Ever.I will not miss the principal, who says things like “the die has been mixed”, and “vice” instead of “versus” (as in the Bears “vice” the Colts). Who openly admits leaving the classroom because “I wasn’t very good at it, so I became an administrator”, and who then treats teachers like they know nothing.

I just posted a response to this blog entry. Ms. Atwood captures my sentiments perfectly. She talks about DIBELS which is explained here and criticized here.

I don’t know how many people read my ramblings and rantings, but something has to be done about NCLB. It’s ruining education. It’s destroying intellectual curiosity and the love of learning. It’s turning good educators into diligent little lemmings who mindlessly follow stupid policies just to keep the peace and their jobs.
You must educate yourselves and speak up.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

I’m back

It’s been a while, huh. Lots of excitement here on the home-front – new glasses, job interviews, garage sales, etc., and so on. Busy busy busy.

I’m going to miss teaching – at least some parts of it. I’m going to miss the students, and the energy in the classroom. I’m going to miss the light-bulb moments when my students “get it”. I’m going to miss the humor and the playfulness of my students. I’m going to miss the students who are wise beyond their years, and who seem to understand the purpose of all of this even when I’ve forgotten.
I’m going to miss thinking about and planning lessons, studying resources, looking up information and learning new things while I’m doing it. I’m going to miss my colleagues – intelligent, sophisticated, funny, generous, gracious, and sarcastic. I’m going to miss the smell of the cedar trees in the bright, crisp morning air.

Sometimes, I get a sick feeling in my stomach when I realize I won’t be in the classroom next year. What purpose will I have? What will I do during the day? And then, I realize that I probably won’t be blogging at 12:36 am on a Sunday night/Monday morning, attempting to forestall the inevitable morning mayhem of dragging my ass out of bed and figuring out what we’re doing today in class.Please, if you’re out there, anyone, please visit http://www.educatorrountable.org and sign the petition calling for an end to NCLB.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

POS, SOLs, FQL, PLCs, FUBAR Our school district is currently proposing some drastic changes to the POS (program of studies) for high school students. Most of the changes are a reaction to one school’s failing SOL (standard of learning) scores . The FQL (framework of quality learning) is a mammoth document telling all teachers what they’ve been doing must STOP, and that they must meet in PLCs (professional learning communities) to be brainwashed into following a lock-step model. This, of course, is supposed to increase rigor and encourage more kids to care about SOLs. But in my opinion, it’s only going to result in public education being FUBAR – more than it already is.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

It’s Not Rocket Science

This is my seventh year of teaching. It has taken seven years to feel like I’m capable (well, at least some of the time instead of never). The thought of moving next school year disconcerts me because I’m just starting to get good at this…..
But it’s exhausting. The emotional stamina required to sustain teachers has to come from somewhere, you know? Ultimately, I would like to be an advocate for educators. I think if more parents knew about the initiatives, and the ulterior motives related to the initiatives, there would be enough outrage to change the system.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cautiously optimistic So far the school year is going relatively well. I’m mostly caught up with my grading, and I’m fairly well prepared to teach the 92 students (33 fewer than last year) sitting in my classroom at various intervals during the day.

10 Honors is still kicking my ass, though. I don’t understand some of the material the other teacher presents, and I feel that I have to follow her lead no matter what. She’s a brilliant person and an interesting teacher. She’s the one who tells me I have more methods while she has more material…. which is true of course… but if I were to deviate from her curriculum, I would be proving just how ignorant I truly am.

Plato’s The Apology is what I’m talking about. Why the hell do 10th graders need to be reading this? It’s way too hard. I barely understand it myself. It’s college level material that I feel is not appropriate for the classroom except in exerpts (which are the devil’s handiwork, according to the lead teacher).

There are a couple of bimbos in my honors class as well. Not that they’re stupid – they’re just used to things coming easily and prettily to them. One of them lamented yesterday that she misses the 9th grade honors teacher (whom I’ve stopped admiring recently) who told them everything and made them take incessant notes. At least, that’s my assumption. I wish I had time to sit in on one of her classes and watch what she does. I wish I had time to sit in on one of my lead teacher’s classes to see how she approaches Socrates.

I don’t know if there is an ideal classroom/teaching situation. Part of me wonders if the drama doesn’t in fact inspire me. Teaching is a strange profession – definitely a love/hate relationship. But at least it’s better than last year. Last year at this time I already knew it was going to be a looooong year. And was it ever.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Beginning Again A new school year. Already.
Sort of feels like we’ve come back after a 3 day weekend and started a new school year. What the hell happened to “See you in September!” ?

This year, I have 103 students instead of 130. Something is different this year with this crop of freshmen. Not sure what it is, really. They’re quieter for one thing – maybe it’s just that they’re still scared of me.

I saw a piece on MSNBC about Teach for America, and the cute little teacher from UVa who is giving the teaching profession a shot. She said that teaching is not what it seems like from a student’s point of view. Or even a parent’s. There is more to being a teacher than meets the eye, and I don’t know how to get people to realize how much work, heart, and soul goes into this profession.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

***Warning- this is not happy*** Looking around the room full of teachers today, I counted the number of teachers whose children are train wrecks. It struck me that the sooner I can get out of education the better because I go home so tired at night that I don’t care how much tv my kids watch as long as it’s something I’ve approved. I don’t care how messy their rooms are because I don’t have the energy to clean them or to get my kids to clean them. I don’t fight them on their bad eating habits because I’m too tired to care. And I’m filled with self loathing at the thought of all the work I won’t get done in spite of bringing it home with me. I’m too depressed and disappointed with myself to reflect much of anything positive to my children and I’m terrified they will internalize my failings as their own. My kids have a pretty high chance of becoming train wrecks if I don’t quit soon.

The Best Principal Ever dropped a bombshell yesterday: she’s leaving High School to go to Middle School. I’m irreconcilably sad she’s leaving but the decision has already been made and people are already in their new positions. I’m afraid Awesome Assistant Principal will leave, too and then the whole school really will go to hell. I wish I could quit this year. I wish I could leave before things get worse. Because no matter how positive or optimistic I am, things always get worse. This year has been absolutely awful and yet I know things will be worse next year. Things always get worse.

I refuse to work on the Vertical Team next year. I don’t like the working environment, I don’t agree with the way the work is organized and managed. I don’t like Super Bitch’s style of taking over and making decisions for us. I don’t like her inability to listen to the teachers and lack of regard for their opinions. Super Bitch is not a good leader, and she is not a good manager. She has brought frustration and disillusionment to an already thankless and demoralizing job. She is not a good coordinator for English.

I don’t want to teach 10 Honors next year. This year was such a categorical disaster that I don’t really want to even look at the mess I made. I don’t want to sift through the fuselage of things taught badly and try to recreate a curriculum that equals in rigor what Fabulous Teacher teaches. That will simply be an act of self flagellation. I know I did a terrible job and I know I’m not (a) Fabulous Teacher. I’m sad for the students who took my class this year. I’m sad for the crap they put up with from me. I wish I had been a better teacher. I wish I were a different person altogether. I suck.

I want to go on vacation for a week all by myself. I want a room with an ocean view, right next to the beach. I don’t want to get out of bed or shower for a week. I don’t want to do anything but watch the waves crash on the sand and be comforted by the tide’s unremitting sequence. I don’t want to think about how fat and unattractive I am. I don’t want to supervise my children playing on the beach and I don’t want to worry about Husband’s mood. Or money. Or anything.

What I really want is to cease existing. But there’s no real chance of that happening.

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