Day 95 of 180

Why is it that some classes are so much more challenging than others, especially when doing the same work and when the classes should be approximately the same student make-up?  I had one of those poor timing moments when one lesson lasted the whole class period, and then I did it the next period and they were done about ten minutes earlier.  I didn’t review their work at the end of class, but I suspect (as the second class is directly before lunch) that the students didn’t do as much work.  I could be wrong, but I’m going to put my money on it.

In other news I ran into a co-worker in the hall today, and it’s one of the first times that we’ve actually been able to talk.  It’s such a shame that we don’t get time to collaborate.  I hope we get some soon!  We have a Professional Day (PD day? Professional day day? Anyway, I digress.) and I’m hoping that will give departments time to co-plan or even just discuss how our year is going.  It’s critical to our students and to us for us to have this time.  I can’t express that enough.

At our school, the first Tuesday of each month is supposed to be a faculty meeting.  The third Tuesday is supposed to be a department meeting.  We keep having our department meetings usurped for “brief” faculty meetings that go on for far too long, and, in the way of so many meetings, could have been an email.  While I can appreciate the point of faculty meetings in that they keep us all informed at the same time, department meetings mean so much more.  Bonding, growing, stretching and teaming are critical.  I wish we had more time.

Day 53 of 180

I’m mentally preparing myself to go meet with my supervisor so he can tell me that my latest observation was terrible.  He’s going to have another assistant principal (AP) with him.  He’s going to lecture me about what I should have been doing, what I didn’t have on my boards, and where it should be.  I don’t expect him to ask me what was going on and why my class was the way it was.  I don’t expect him to acknowledge that when he stopped by with the district head of English that I said that not much was going on in the class, and that perhaps there was a reason I was saying that. What he will tell me is that I was teaching tools in a vacuum and not explaining what the purpose was.

The truth is that 6 out of 12 students were missing.  Of the 6 that were there, a full 100% had not done their homework.

The truth is that the reason they were filling out the TPCASTT sheets was so they could write essays on themes in poems.

The truth is that when introducing new concepts, it seems really crappy to do that when over half the class is being required to retake a state mandated test, and the other half is not prepared.

However, I will agree with some of it.

The truth is that I did not have my agenda posted.

The truth is that I did not have my objective posted.

And here’s why.

The truth is that I was so frustrated with my students that I wanted to cry.

The truth is that my students had thought, “Oops, I forgot it” was an acceptable excuse.

The truth is that when a teacher says “we aren’t really doing much”, she might be trying not to shame her students by saying that they colossally effed up her carefully constructed plans.

The truth has many sides.  I don’t want to go and hear any of this, even though I can own my part of it.

The truth is that my AP did this and so much more, to the point where we use the APs last name as verb to describe when a teacher is barely phoning it in.

The truth is that I am embarrassed to be caught in being lame, but I’m equally frustrated that I acknowledged as much, and my AP and the district head went on with their observation.  At that point it stops feeling like an observation and starts feeling like they were out to get me and prove how I was failing.

The truth is that I wish I didn’t have to go upstairs and be told that I suck.

Day 39 of 180

Obama’s education administration acknowledged their part in making our public schools testing factories.  Only 2% of a year should be high stakes testing, apparently.  Okay, so in my state our students take the MCAS or the PARCC.  My students still take the MCAS.  Right now, in tenth grade it takes up five days between English and Math.  Seven days if you include the two days of Science the year previous.  Five days is one week, or approximate 2.78% of an 180 day school year.  However, I only see my students half the year.  So really, it’s 5.56% of my academic time.

That doesn’t include two district determined measures – that the state insists on currently. (2 days)

The six unit exams that I’m supposed to give – that the district insists on currently (6 days)

So in total, for my tenth graders, that’s 5 + 8 = 13 days of testing that I didn’t create to show mastery of the materials.

Today, some of my students began a 5 day (45 minutes/day) abridged mock-MCAS.  That’s another 5 days of educational time that I’ve lost.

Remind me again what the point of teaching is?

Day 37 of 180

I made a decision earlier this year, that I wouldn’t be returning to this school in the Fall.  I’m scared, and I’m sad, and I’m so very angry.  Is it me? My innocent naiveté that “that’s the way it is here” isn’t a good answer seems to back me into corners where I can’t stay.   I love teaching.  I love watching students’ brains at work.  I’m not good with the educational politics of quantity over quality that are dominating the schools.

For P-Diddy it was all about the Benjamins.  For Weird Al it was all about the Pentiums.  For schools it’s all about the numbers: numbers enrolled, numbers graduating, SPED numbers, SEI numbers, MCAS numbers, school level numbers, this test numbers, that test numbers, numbers numbers numbers.

And so I find myself counting.  Day 37 of 180 with the kids, and 183 for me with built in PD days.