Tuesday, January 31, 2006

On School

Once again my 7th period class today reminded me of why I quit teaching 6 1/2 years ago. It is my largest class and it's not necessarily the size of the class that is an issue. I have another class almost as large and they are quite perfect. It's really 3-4 students that make it a miserable class for the most part. One girl in particular is the rudest and has that "Miss Thang" attitude where I certainly am not going to tell her what to do and what not to do. When she is absent, well I can't say it's heaven, but at least closer. I'll spend more time in prayer over this, but I hope it gets better soon.

The thing is that there are other classes that are really pretty good and I have some wonderful kids in those that seem to want to learn and take an interest in what I am saying. Or at least they seem to be paying attention. And then there's the speech team full of really talented kids that are polite (mostly.. other than that senior "attitude"). So I guess for the most part it balances out. If only it were not for all the other crap we have to deal with as teachers. (Pardon the language, but is there a better way to put it really?)

Let's examine this shall we?

On top of teaching 5-6 classes a day teachers are expected to do the following:
Create interesting lessons that keep the kids engaged in learning.
Have assignments for them to complete and must be graded as they must have a minimum of 8 daily grades each six weeks. This is in addition to having two test grades.
For kids that are absent because they are in what is called Prime Time (long term removal from the classroom) or ISS (In School Suspension) we are to send work for them to do. Never mind that they will miss our lectures and important information. But we must take time out of our day to send busy work to keep them... well... busy. (Oh and they usually send the ISS request two days into their assignment and Prime Time sends the completed assignments back the day of semester tests still to be graded)
Almost daily we have to clear absence reports because we may have marked a kid absent at one point when they were tardy to class by 5-6 minutes or so which means we have to go back and look through our attendance sheets. Sometimes they ask about student absence from a month or so prior.
Once a week we are to have a duty which requires us to stand outside and monitor students for 15-20 minutes before school and after school.
We are expected to keep up with grades and have them entered into the computer although we generally don't have time to really grade papers because our conference periods are filled with doing all the other stuff I've been mentioning.
We're also supposed to make 6 parent contacts in a six weeks. I know this doesn't sound like a big deal, but to sit down and even write something out, put it in an envelope, find the address, and take it to the office to be mailed takes up most of a conference period. Forget phone calls as most parents are working or they don't speak English.
So with a 50 minute conference period, once I take care of the above things, I don't have time to actually work on lessons. Keep in mind that I am basically starting over as a new teacher. I do have a text book, but I still have to create my own lessons to teach, activities for them to do, note taking materials, and tests.
(On the note-taking materials, it may seem strange to have to give students materials for taking notes - you know fill in the blank - but since we are required to do this for students that have modifications, it might as well be done for the whole class. I tried once to give them notes without the worksheets and they couldn't keep up with it and they constantly asked me how to spell everything.)

And just a few more gripes while we're at it...
We can't make copies of our materials for our classes. We have to send all materials to be printed to a place called "Docutech". In some respects this is a good thing as we don't have to waste time going to a copy machine etc, but sometimes as plans change we can't just quickly print something for our classes to do.
I can understand the need for filters on our internet so that students don't visit really bad sites, but when I can't even go to Sony Music to find an address, that is getting rediculous.
We're supposed to be incorporating technology into our classrooms and although I think it is a good thing, it is sometimes difficult. It is an ordeal to get an LCD projector. I finally got 6 computers in my room and they work maybe 1/2 the time.
And if students fail our classes for any six weeks which causes them to fail for the semester, they can make up the work. And if they choose to do that, we are supposed to create a packet of materials for them to do again (when they refused to do it the first time).

Don't get me wrong, I am going on about the negative aspects of teaching and as you can tell there are several. It's not all bad, there are good moments. Give me a minute and I may come up with one. Oh yeah... summers off. Really, there are those times when the light bulb goes on in a student's head and you can see that they finally "get it" or perhaps even years later you hear from a former student who thanks you for something you did or taught them. It isn't always immediately rewarding. And that is probably why there is so much turnover in teaching. Teachers aren't paid enough to begin with, then they pile all the extra "stuff" on their plate where they can't even simply teach any more. And people wonder why the kids today aren't really learning.

I know I briefly touched on students and their attitudes in a previous post, but I do have more to share on that subject and how they have changed. My friend Bret commented about it and asked me a question that I intend to post a response on. But will save that for another day as this post is long enough and I am sure you are tired of my rants.

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