Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from January, 2007

Speaking the Truth..

...whether or not anyone's listening.

My letter (also known as career suicide) to the people in charge of "Research, Assessment, and Accountability" in my district. Also known as the department that makes my kids take so many tests. (They're not responsible for the state testing, only for the mountains of district testing heaped on top of the state testing). I may be blacklisted now, but there are some times that - even if it's just for my own sake - I need to say what I know to be true.

Dear XXX,
I am a 3rd grade teacher in this district. I have just finished giving my students the mid-year math assessment and mid-year language arts assessment and I have a number of concerns that I hope you can address for me.

First, this is the second math assessment this year which covers standards not yet scheduled to be taught. In particular, this mid-year assessment - with a testing window of Jan 22-26 - covers geometry, scheduled to be taught from Jan 22 - Feb 9. Among …

What I Want People To Know

I was talking to a friend the other day and trying to figure out why I am keeping up this blog. Part of me wants to show off my kids, how cute they are, what funny things they say. Part of me wants people to know what I'm going through with my ridiculous, dysfunctional district. But if that's all it is, I don't think I'd continue writing - I have a lot of other things that should be taking up my time. I think my main hope is that people will read this and understand that things are not OK in education in California. And more than that, I want people to get MAD about it.

Most of this is detailed in previous entries, but there is severe inequality in our schools. If you (or anyone else!) doesn't believe me, read my blog, read Jonathan Kozol's books, come visit my school. The inequality is so entrenched that I honestly have no idea what can be done about it at this point, but I do know that nothing that has been done is working.

No Child Left Behind isn't workin…

Infirmary Ward

My whole class seems to be sick - which is strange, because they were all at school for once. I had seven or eight who were sneezing with running noses, three or four who threw up, and two who just felt bad all around and fell asleep.

I'm starting to feel ill - not sure if it's psychosomatic or if I'm actually getting sick from the little germ balls, also known as children.

More Evaluations

This is student work. The reasons I point out that this is student work is that on my last evaluation, I was told that I had minimal (she underlined it twice) student work up in my room. She said all I had up was some art. I had to take pictures of all of the student work and write it all up to prove to her that I do indeed have student work up in the classroom. I'm not sure if she needs glasses or is just out to get me.

I could have used all this time to actually plan things for the kids or do actual work. But no, I need to write up a rebuttal for my ridiculous evaluation.

This is what's going to push me over the edge.

Sinking to New Depths

Oakland Unified and No Child Left Behind are ruining my students' education. That may sound dramatic, but it's true. And I'm pretty close to just walking away.

We got another math assessment from the district that covers what we haven't taught. The first one covered types of word problems that were supposed to be taught a few weeks after the test was due. This one covers geometry, which is a unit we are just starting (and we're taking the test this week), including questions on the types of triangles, which are not supposed to be taught until the SECOND WEEK OF FEBRUARY. The test is due on Jan 29. We're back to time traveling, I see. Let me point out that the same department made the schedule of lessons taught and the test. Big problems.

This is not the only problem. The testing schedule has gotten unbearable. Let me explain. There are four types of tests that we are mandated to give, not including any teacher-generated assessments that might actually help us ass…

Evaluations

My evaluation came about a month ago but I've been so irritated by it that I haven't gotten around to writing about it. We're evaluated on a scale of 1-4, with 3 being acceptable, 4 being outstanding, 2 unacceptable but developing, and 1 being unacceptable. Now, I wasn't expecting to get all 4s or anything like that, but I also wasn't expecting what I got.

There are definitely parts of my teaching that I can improve. My classroom's a mess, to begin with, and I'm sometimes just way too tired to do everything I should do. But I absolutely should not have been marked down on what I was. Two areas: assessment and parent contact.
Let's take assessment first. She has observed me once for one hour. One. Hour. On the basis of this, she says that my assessment is not up to standards. Not only do I give all required assessments and use the scores to drive instruction, but if you name any one of my students, I can tell you what they're good at, what they strug…

Dr. Suzy

They learned about brains, hearts and lungs and even got to see REAL brains, hearts and lungs. It was SO COOL!





















Butterflies, Warren, and Suzy

Totally just realized that science with Dr. Suzy didn't make it on the blog because I was slow in getting the pictures. I'll do that soon because it was AWESOME!

In other errors, for some reason, the butterflies posted down under a few other posts, so make sure you see the cool pictures. Warren and his super-zoom lens get credit for all the photos.

Speaking of Warren, he's been a great volunteer this year. Besides Science with Mr. Smith and the butterfly field trip, he has come a number of times to help with math. (Even though the first time he was there this year, he got accosted by an administrator in the hall and asked - not so nicely - who he was and what he was doing at the school. After he had signed in and gone through all the necessary paperwork. Right. And we wonder why we don't have volunteers).

Each time he comes, he takes about three kids at a time and goes through word problems or new math procedures with them; things that are too complex to be taught…

Lights Out!

I was remembering today about a day from last year when the lights went out. I was remembering this because it illustrates - so beautifully - the lack of logic among the administration.

The lights went out - and stayed out for four hours - and it was totally dark outside from the rain. We couldn't see anything at all, but had to keep the kids the whole time. Afterward, they canceled our staff meeting in order to give us time to work on report cards. Unfortunately, it was so dark, I couldn't really SEE said report cards.
When I went to talk to the principal and tell her I was throwing in the towel for the last 45 minutes of the report card period and going home to do it, she told me that I would have to fill out an absence form and take an hour of sick time for it. So I sat in the dark for 45 minutes, mulling over the question of why there is no logic at all in my district.









Another Old Email

This was the email I sent to people who agreed to pray for my kids a few years back.

Hello pray-ers,

I wish I had kids' names for all of you already, but I still have no class list. School starts in 11 hours and we were supposed to get class lists in JUNE. That's almost as logical as my other big problem - I only have
dry-erase whiteboards in my room, no chalkboards, and the office will only give me chalk, no dry erase pens. You can imagine how useful that is. I'll spare you the rest of the supply horror stories.

Anyway, thanks for volunteering to pray. I will get names out as soon asI have them. For now, please pray for my sanity :) Just when I
think it couldn't be any more difficult, I get proved wrong. The school is just so set up to fail that it's amazing. It makes it difficult to keep a good attitude for the kids too. Please pray for the new teachers too - there are 8 of them, mostly young and pretty new and right now extremely discouraged.

More City Wildlife

In answer to the question "How do birds survive in the city?" I was expecting to read some answers out of the story we read, Urban Roosts, which tells, actually, how birds survive in the city. Instead, I got this from one girl who really got to the heart of the matter with her simple answer.

Question: "How do birds survive in the city?"Answer: "Birds survive in the city by not getting killed."