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Monday, November 15, 2010

the state of education

Teaching is a profession for adults who love children and want to have fun helping children grow academically and socially.  As I am going to show, in at least one large school district the focus has shifted from being a profession for people who love to children to a profession of people who are trying to build their own resumes.  
Education claims ‘No Child Left Behind’ but how is this so if children are making it to middle school and cannot multiply and divide?  Well I know that in this one school district that there is a no failure policy.   With this policy and many others like it Principles are always in scramble mode trying to cover their own tails.  Principles are being threatened to be demoted back to the classroom if they are not in line with all of the policies of the district.  Therefore in order for the Principles to do this they put extra paperwork on the teachers.  
This is really a district that does not support, trust, or care about its teachers.  We, the teachers, must “prove” that a student failed our \class.  Supposedly, the district operates on data.  Well, if you look, even glance, at the data it is obvious that the majority of the students in the district are below grade level.  So, if data supposedly ‘tells the story’ shouldn’t we as teachers be “proving” the A’s?  
More proof that the district does not support its teachers is that they blame the teachers for low test scores asking the teacher, “What did you not do?”  If the Superintendent trusted his principles that wouldn’t be a question.  He would see the pattern of many schools with the same problems and he would pull the teachers and principles closer by making it a student centered question like, “Why are our students not performing and how can we help them?”  If you hired the principle and your principle hired me, You should trust yourself to know you hired a great teacher.  If you question that, come sit in my classroom for a week.  If you still believe it is all my fault please fire me.  If you see great teaching with differentiated strategies then look at the data with me and say, what can we do to motivate these kids?
His approach is driving great teachers away.  The great teachers are burnt out and tired of being blamed and threatened.  They are going to better districts where teachers are relaxed, not under pressure to perform, and not being threatened.  To districts where the students are doing wonderful.  Not only are they losing teachers, new graduates are are not even applying.  They are going to nearby smaller districts that pay much less.  But again they are not under constant scrutiny.  
Here in this district we are no longer allowed to teach what our individual students need.  We must teach to a test.  We are not allowed to teach the old fashioned way with books, pencil, paper, chalk etc.  We must use technology and strategies that worked somewhere else.  This is just frustrating because ‘somewhere else’ has students that are very different from ours.  This frustrates the teachers, being forced to teach certain things in a certain way, even if our students aren’t ready.  Oh and don’t forget it is now against the law to separate students by ability.  Which is even mored frustrating.  Students pick up on their teachers feelings.  If the teacher cannot put their heart into teaching and student will not put their heart into learning.  
To make matters worse most of these initiatives and policies deal with technology which ok but here in this district no one makes sure that the technology actually works before putting demands on the teachers.  For example Excel plans must be completed after each report card to show who failed.  Half of the teachers at my school could not even login to use the this system.  We were told last year we must use the online grading system power teacher, well 15 weeks into school and our classes have not been reset for the current school year.  We were also told at the beginning of this year we must complete a series of online training sessions by a certain date, the website was not even up and working!!
Most teachers began teaching because it was fun to interact with their students.  Teaching is no longer fun.  It is all about resume building and test scores and proving data.  This school district has gotten away from being student centered.  Until the focus of education is back on each individual child, things will not improve.

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