Friday, April 02, 2010

Probably Shouldn't Blog This. . . .

First of all, let me say that I am very proud of the history of the school where I teach, and I mostly enjoy the people I work with. I think we do good work in what many would consider less than ideal circumstances. As I get older, though, I find the "overcome and adapt" harder and harder to do. I love teaching writing and literature, but increasingly I find those subjects devalued. For one thing, everyone is in a panic about math and science, but in our particular circumstances because we are a small town, the school also serves as the entertainment supplier for the community. Our students are involved, and that word should be capitalized and italicized. The standards of the community place a premium on extracurricular activities even if academics have to be sacrificed. At this time of year some students are in class only one or two days a week. Today was the first day in two weeks that I was able to teach English all day without either being required to do things myself, like run contests, that have nothing to do with my subject matter or my training, pass out invitations to community events to seniors AND keep track of which seniors are not present so that I can chase them down and give them their invitations later, tell some parents that I will not take class time to organize a completely non-school event for them because they don't want to put in the time and effort to do it--for the 3rd time to the same parent, and have class periods in which more than 50% of my students are gone on school activities. I did teach English all day, and I remember why I love doing that. Increasingly, however, I am having difficulty believing that anyone else cares, particularly the parents and the community.

1 comment:

Deb said...

With all the emphasis in our district on making AYP and the fact that 1/2 of our schools in the district are Schools in Need of Improvement, it really bugs me how often our instructional time is interrupted by assemblies or reward celebrations. We recently adopted a PBS - Positive Behavior Support - model for instilling values and maintaining discipline. So we spend much of our time rewarding kids for the doing the things they're supposed to be doing in the first place. We end up having monthly celebrations where the classes are shortened from 60 minutes to 40 minutes so that kids can have 1.5 hrs of celebration -- Plus we also lose time from class for assemblies to introduce each month's PBS theme. The thing is, 95% of our kids are good kids to start with. they didn't need additional incentives. A very small percentage of our kids do need such rewards, but there's also a hard core 2% for whom nothing makes a difference. And yet we spend SO MUCH TIME on this!
I wish we got our priorities straight.