Aug 30, 2011

RTI is here to stay

In presentation today, the speaker said, "RTI is not a new 'thing', it is here to stay!"

And then the paper presentation graphic crashed to the ground.

- Posted using my iPad

May 14, 2011

The Cruelest Month

I know T.S. Eliot favored April as the most cruel, but we teachers know that May is… even more so these days.

Most importantly, it is the final testing month. National ‘assessments, state ‘assessments’, district ‘assessments’, school ‘assessments’… on and on. It’s impossible to actually get anything done. Toss in graduation activities, planning for the upcoming year and the 2011 bonus, lay-offs and transfers, and you have to wonder if it wouldn’t be better to save money by simply shutting down school entirely except for a few test proctors.

Meanwhile, there seems an air of hopelessness permeating the education world. Plans to lay-off thousands are coming to fruition. Schools are being closed, despite protests. Charters are increasing where they can whether they should not. Unions have lost a lot ground and teachers are trying to decide if it’s even worth it any more to continue talking about education. (not that I blame anyone for that, we all have lives to live)

For myself, I know that lately, I’ve been focusing on my students and trying to get everything done in a reasonable amount of time without falling under a pile of paperwork (I am rather infamous for having huge piles on my desk… but I never almost never loose anything either. The trick is not to throw anything away). Mostly, it’s because I just can’t focus on anything else. The political landscape is depressing. The economic outlook isn’t really that much rosier (despite newscasts to the contrary).

Summer is, however, right around the corner. Rejuvenation! It makes me almost giddy to think of all of the unit planning I could do  with that time! The organization of units I could create! I am so a teacher… I guess that’s why I’ll keep putting up with all the crap.

May 1, 2011

“They Don’t Get It”

I hear that a lot these days. It used to be mostly from various teens trying to negotiate the drama unfolding in their lives as they wandered into that no-man’s land between adult and child. These days it’s from adults trying to navigate the education scene these days.

So many people talking and no one listening.

The other day I was reading a post by a blogger I’ve been following for several years. Before there was such a thing as “blogging.” We all know spring is IEP review season. This blogger wrote about his daughter’s. Among the various elements, there was the discussion about the state assessment tests. She did not pass. There was discussion about what this means… and why said student needed to pass this test. Would she be taking a modified test?

While reading, all I could think about was what would happen to that child as she entered middle school and high school. A history of not passing the assessment test vs. teachers who will now be evaluated on how many students pass that test. As much as I would like to think that I would treat said child no different, I also have children of my own. The kind that will need expensive braces, I’m sure. What would I do with a student who I knew wouldn’t be passing, wouldn’t be showing significant gains, wouldn’t be following the graphs and charts drawn up by some computer program… ?

Isn’t that horrible? It literally makes me sick to my stomach of what would happen to that child? Test cheating scandals abound – has there been one single “miracle” story that hasn’t been debunked? – how fast will that child be labeled and shuffled from classroom to classroom to keep classroom test scores high.

It’s no longer pitting state against state for funding, it’s pitting parent against parent. Life’s a competition and your state has just mandated that your child will loose.

Of course, that’s not what these politician or reformers claim to want. They don’t get it.

Apr 27, 2011

Where the Money Is… or Isn’t.

We’re starting our wind down for the school year. Most state testing has finished, although there are still the End of Course (EOC) exams to be done and AP tests start next week. College acceptances have been received and deposits sent back. Students are a little stunned to realize that only six weeks are left and that there aren’t many assignments left with which to rescue their grade.

My formal last observation for the year was today. I was a bit nervous – things haven’t gone well for others and who knows what’s going on behind the scenes. Once again, I am reminded that working in education is only slightly less political that working on Capital Hill… fewer political  ideologues, more personal vendettas.

The deadline for RIFs and transfers looms. Basically, we greet each other in the morning, at lunch and after school with the words “have you heard anything?”, every day. God forbid anyone is out of their normal spaces at any point in time. The rumors immediately start flying. I guess this would be the definition of an “interesting time”.

I forgot to mention… the grant I applied for early this month was yanked due to lack of funding. Not only is the district short, but outside funding sources are drying up too.


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