The Woes of Teaching

I have not posted here in a very long time.  There has been a lot of frustration professionally that caused me to stay off the grid.  I just didn’t think I could contribute in a way that would cause me or anyone else growth.  But now, some things have happened that I think are worthy of conversation.

What are we trying to do to teachers and the education system?  On Thursday, my school district laid off 187 teachers. It is not the schools district’s fault, although I think we really should revisit closing some schools. Thankfully for me I have a job next year.  But some people who have been with the district for as long as four years do not.  I am thankful for having a job, but at some point at what cost?  If the state does not pass a tax increase in May, my classroom may have  at least 38 students in it.  At least.  Really it could have as many as 45- 50 before we start talking about thresholds being too high given that we would be a at a 38:1 student teacher ratio.  When does class size stop becoming about teaching as much as it is about management.  And as one of our administrators talked about the budget and the future we face next year, he spoke of how our pr campaign to get more students is going to go after students in neighboring districts.  He commented we are going after them and we are, “fighting for scraps”.

If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.~Donald D. Quinn

And I must add on a $40,000 salary (I’m being generous) and supplementing his supplies out of his own pocket in a 35 hour work week.

Technology dependent???

Well, when I moved into my new classroom this year, I inherited a Smartboard  projector that had met its lamp life.  To use my Smartboard I had to turn off my classroom lights so the kids could see the board.  So of course I was all over it with our MIS department.  Fortunately our district has an exchange rebate program that will replace it.  Unfortunately this is going to take 1 -2 weeks(so they say).  So I am on day 5 of no projector. I am trying to stay positive about it.  I was only at work 3 days this week and next week has three half days…but oh how I miss my projector. No movie clips, no Smartboard, no document camera.  What am I going to do????

Getting Into the Swing of Things

This is week 3 of school, officially week 3 and 3 days.  But really, academic full press on, this is week 3.  I am just getting oriented to the new curriculum and pacing and such.  We have lots of help this year with pull-out interventionists.  It has been pretty hard to get scheduled and instruction focused while the majority of my class is out.  I am hesitant to teach new material for having to re-teach it in 30 minutes.  I am still trying to maximize that time with the students I have left.  One thing that I have found this year is that I am always questioning how I could have done a lesson better.  That is definitely something I have to credit to the National Boards process.  Hopefully one I can just continue on my own rather than in pursuit of something.  We’ll see…

I”m going to get better at this!

I just took about 40 minutes to truly visit my aggregator, something I haven’t done sine I went back to work 3 weeks ago.  I had over 60 posts to read.  Of course I didn’t read all of them and I left 6 to be read later when I would really read them and not just clean up my aggregator.  I enjoy developing my personal learning network and trying to learn about different perspectives on technology integration.  I hope to add more locals to my network and become a better contributer myself.

Beginning reflections

The school year has started with a bang for me.  I have a great class and am loving the grade level change.  The transition to  new leadership has been relatively smooth.  There is much to look forward to this year!

But it just hit me this morning.  Our district eliminated our electronic grade book because it changed attendance systems.  I realized today that I will have to do grades manually this year.  Really?!?  REALLY?!?!!!!  What year is this?

We are so lucky

I spent the last week working with several teachers and 1 principal learning and working on Best Practices in Math.  This could have gone pretty badly, but let me tell you it was GREAT.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The work I did this week has truly made me a better teacher.  I hope that the relaxation of summer does not dilute my intentions at this moment.  But the best part of this past week and the reason I felt compelled to write was my grand realization I had.  We have a lot of really good teachers in our district.  In the seven years I have been teaching and attending district provided professional development, this is the first time I have felt this way.  That is great for our district, but even better for our kids.  I wish we could collectively build a superteam of teachers for our school.  What a difference that would make.  A group of adults focused and dedicated to the same kind of learning.  Oh, the possibilities.

Aaah, that’s what document cameras are for!

I have heard many people talk about document cameras.  I always thought, “Yeah that’s nice, but I can do the same thing scanning documents with my SmartBoard.”  Well  I have spent this week in professional development learning about Best Practices in Mathematics.  And finally I get it!  I need (read need, not want) a document camera.  Gone should be the days when we have students go up to the board and copy their work from their papers.  What a waste of time, one.  Two, you miss some of the learning in translation from paper to board.  I get it now.  Now hopefully I will get a document camera too.

AzTea Way Out West Conference

I am at the WOW conference in Glendale.  I like this conference and have been coming for about 4 of the last 5 years.  It seems to have gotten smaller this year, not sure why.  Everyone’s budget I guess.  I can tell you I was bummed about missing the refreshments to start and the number of companies you were bombarded with before you could get to the keynote.  I know that sponsors carry this conference, but I don’t need to be hit over the head with it.  There are also a large number of presentations being given by sales reps and companies.  Also disappointing.  I am waiting for the first breakout to begin and the presenters out number the audience.  We’ll see……

Math standards…here we go!

I spent Monday and Tuesday working with teachers and coaches working on a pacing guide for our district.  It was very difficult but interesting work.  The new math standards will be a challenge to everyone, not just the students.  We have to look at the way we teach math differently.  Students are not prepared for this and it will be a challenge to get everyone to change their mindset and conceptual thinking.  I think that is only good for all of us to get math back to the way it used to be, not just teaching kids to compute and nothing else.  We will spend to more days to finish the pacing guide.  Hopefully it will be published quickly enough for teachers to work this summer and be prepared for next year.  New things to come.

What are we going to do?

Today was a day of big news for our school.  Big changes to come for next year as if we already didn’t have enough.  New leadership is scary and to throw in a large departure and restructuring of our staff.  Now everything is up in the air.   I hope the kids don’t get lost in the shuffle.  I hope the burden of this is not put on the backs of us who are left.