0198: Permission to teach or a trap: When evaluators start speaking of #freedom in the #classroom
It’s time to start writing again. First, the third party lords of our schools are back at work. And, I’m getting more and more spam from sites that want me to call upon my inner seventh grader.
Yesterday we had a meeting about questioning and shifting to a more constructivist style of teaching. Of course, the explanation was very vague and condensed. The presenter did a fabulous job of saying: “you [the faculty] teach in an antiquated manner. You must replace your broken teaching style with this new one, and then figure out how to also prepare your students for the test that measures the old way…and while we’re at it, we will be evaluating you with this new form.”
I am not opposed to a style of education that is more liberating. Students actively constructing their own knowledge and understanding optimizing their personal skill sets and developing new ones is marvelous. I strive for that in my classroom…when it’s possible. There is no doubt that I have some hang ups with this cavalier attempt to reform this school and district.
For starters, I’m concerned that teachers here will be evaluated with a corporate instrument that is designed to measure a teacher’s implementation of practices that very few understand. I gather the instrument will seek to quantify something that isn’t terribly quantifiable unless heavily deconstructed.
Further, teachers around me already smell the next best thing. Utterances of “this too shall pass” were audible in the meeting. There will be little to no training beyond the simple “here are some strategies we will be looking to see you use.” An entire philosophical construct will be reduced to mere strategies.
Finally, they recommended teaching less content in order to allow the students develop their own understanding. Help them learn deeper. A fantastic idea, but will the test change? Are we going to have time to help learners adjust? Will teachers have a chance to adjust?
Is this a trap or permission to really teach?
0189: Highway Robbers, Test Evaluators, and then the Kids
#education #SOSchat #teaching #fascism #rebellion
Teachers are having “Lesson Plan Counseling” sessions with administration to ensure that lesson plans meet the expectations of the evaluators. There seems to be less interest in the quality of the lesson than the structure of the lesson plan. Time is being spent rewriting plans that are not formatted correctly, rather than devoting time to gathering materials and really making sure lessons are accessible. Teaching in this district, we are not alone, is becoming a juggling act in a dog and pony show.
We have more meetings than usual. They’re all attended by the nicely dressed silent evaluators who sit and watch our principal utter something he barely understands which makes it even more difficult to understand. It’s like he’s talking with a gun in his back. It always takes away from the puppet show when you can see the puppet master.
This profession is feeling more and more eerie. There’s so much we do that has little to nothing to do with the well being of our students. Rather than teaching and planning so we can improve the quality of life for an individual or a community, we are jumping through hoops to meet the expectation of some silent goon who works for who-the-hell-knows.
We had a near 40% turnover in faculty last year. They left by choice. That kind of turnover isn’t great for kids in transition or communities. I expect the turnover will be the same.
I want a revolution. Schools should aid in enlightenment and liberation, not suppression and imprisonment of minds.
0066: Third Party Mercenaries to Save Our Schools
#education #testing #bullshit #SOS
There is a new hope! There are educational mercenaries for hire who will rescue our schools from the idiot teachers who wrongfully subject students to activities specifically designed to teach kids thinking skills and innovation. What are they trying to do? Create a critically thinking citizenry? Why? But, don’t worry. We have people to quell these pinko teachers. They will come in and enforce the Glorious Testocracy that we have. All Hail the mighty Standards! As one we will bubble. As one we will thrive.
For a small price several organizations can come in and tell what your teachers are doing wrong, and might can even give a few tips to the administration. The first thing they may do is set up a triage unit. They’ll help you pick out the students who are worth saving and find something to tide the others over. You we as a society must understand that there is no one in your school system who knows what they’re doing. No teacher, no principal. It’s a mystery to everyone. “What am I supposed to do with all these kids,” a teacher might ask himself. Or worse. the teacher might think it’s important to build thinking skills that would help them better understand texts and their worlds alike. That is ridiculous. Every kid needs to be a better test taker. Our Glorious Testing Company needs our offering. Think of it as a tithe to them who have our true interest at heart. I mean look at all the jobs that have been created. Now we can put more students in a classroom with one teacher. Fire the ones that are old and get paid too much. And hire mercenaries to come in and let the solitary teacher know what she’s doing wrong. Surely it’s classroom management and the inability to differentiate. Consultants need jobs, and consulting firms need contracts. Testing is so important to our education. I didn’t learn to bubble tests as a kid, and now I’m lost. A fool hearted teacher trying to teach. How foolish of me. I am a blasphemer and a heretic, but I’m getting better. Soon the rebellious spirit of free-thinking will be dead in my heart and then I will be able to bubble peacefully.
0028: Bullshit. Why don’t my kids get what the white kids get?
I’ve taught in predominately black schools. I attended a predominately black high school. As a teacher, I’ve had the privilege to take my black students to events that are reserved mainly for white schools, thus white kids. My students have always been good competitors and even thrive in this foreign environment whether the events were academic or artistic. I’m always shocked back into a brutal reality of on-going segregation and inequality when I am transported from my usual school environment that functions more closely to a prison than a place of learning. Being that the schools where I’ve taught have been in the south, in black communities, they have been poor. Every interviewer with whom I’ve interviewed has been more concerned with my classroom management skills, and shows great concern about my ability to “handle these kids”. I’ve taught in places where order was never expected because the kids were “those kids” or “criminals”. It’s easy to adapt to that setting, or to become numb to it. But, when I stand in a room full of thriving white children and watch my few black children thrive in the framework of the upper middle class white child I have to stop. The difference is not in behavior. It’s in perception. The schools where I have taught and teach are punitive by nature. The children, mostly black, are treated as if they have great potential— to be harsh criminals. They’re expected to misbehave. The schools and classes are concerned with the children staying in line and sitting quietly. They are not trusted. The white kids on the other hand are treated like future leaders. They engage in problem solving activities and hands-on learning. They are trusted with technology, and are allowed to thrive. The teachers I’ve worked with have been eager to help our students thrive, but the system won’t allow for it. We, at the poorer schools, are constantly falling behind where testing is concerned. And, it starts early. Kindergarten quickly becomes a place to prepare for the first grade test. Recess is eliminated. Experiential learning activities are eliminated. This continues all the way through school for my students. They start out in a deficit situation that follows them all the way to graduation, or when they drop out from absolute boredom. They drill and kill where the kids across the tracks discuss and collaborate. My kids sit in schools that look like prisons, run down prisons at that. The across the track kids sit in schools with nice grounds, and colorful classrooms and hallways. They’re being groomed for success. My students are being groomed for prison and welfare. It’s wrong.
My students looked confused this morning when they were shocked back into their prison reality. The field trip was nice, but it was only a field trip. It was only a dream, and that is bullshit.