Daily Archives: February 19, 2011

Bad Weeks Happen

I am so thankful this week is over and I sure hope next week is better!
It will be because I’m going to wake up every morning and give thanks for the good things, of which there are many.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the teacher who’s on paid administrative leave for her blog where she called students whiny and more. Her name wasn’t on the blog and she didn’t name any students. If the blog was personal, I’m afraid for teachers everywhere. If it was a school blog, shame on her. I don’t know which the case is. If she was blogging on duty, what they heck? How did she have time?!
The thing is, kids are whiny.
But adults are, too. Trust me on this one. I’m a huge whiner at times.
And kids are irresponsible.
But adults are, too. Again, trust me on this one. I can give you examples of my irresponsibility time and again, but I’m not doing it here in a public forum.
The list goes on and on.
KIds have changed. Either that or I’ve gotten older and become the dinosaur talking about “back in the day…”
But expectations on kids have changed.
My students for the most part are over-extended. They do too much. They’re in too many APs. They’re constantly focused on tests and passing them instead of real learning. They have TONS of opinions, but they often can’t defend those positions because they don’t know how. (It’s not on the test, so they don’t know.) Or they do know how because it’s part of the junior AP English test.
Then there’s the whole tech revolution. These kids are constantly plugged in. They don’t know the meaning of true peace and quiet and meditation and aloneness.
If I had been expected to perform on tests, take 4 or more APs, take all the credits needed to graduate, work, and stay in contact with my friends-boyfriend-mom-dad-grandma-aunt susie-teachers-college advisor-scholarship committee, I’m not sure HOW I would’ve done it.
I have a Master’s Degree in English. I loved college. I’d go back now if I could afford classes. But I’m not sure I would’ve survived freshman year without burnout if I were a teenager in today’s schools. That said, I was a solid student but I was NOT a top performer in any subject other than newspaper and writing. I know there are a few top performers in every class, and those kids can do EVERYTHING great. I’ve had those kids in my classes, too, and I love them. But they’re not the norm.
I was a big proponent of TAKS. I loved that it was supposed to be a tougher test that couldn’t be taught. Dumb me. Of course, it could be taught. The testing companies have to sell the test prep materials. I still think TAKS could be a good tool (EOCs too) if used correctly. Use the data. Kids don’t pass? FInd out why. Monitor and adjust constantly, and hold teachers accountable if they have multiple low performing years with kids who should have passed. By hold them accountable, I mean spot checks, portfolios, oversight. That last idea isn’t a big hit with teachers, I know. But we shouldn’t be able to close our doors, do our own thing and only worry about one or two times a year an admin visits to do evaluations. If teachers have great results year after year with students, get them out there teaching the new teachers how to get those results. There’s a teacher I know who gets 100% of her students who actually come to school where they need to be to pass the test even though they’re projected to fail. She’s had those results with these kids since I’ve known her (over 16 years). She should be teaching all of us how to reach at-risk kids.

It’s been a bad week, and I’m glad it’s over. But I still love my job, even the parts that drive me crazy. Today, I shot the Polar Plunge. My school’s Student Council raised around $900 for Special Olympics with a Polar Plunge fundraiser. Students and teachers voted for the faculty they wanted to jump in the pool and the student council had a student team as well. The people in the running and the student team volunteered for this when it was 3 degrees outside. That’s something special. (Crazy! But amazing at the same time.) One of our assistant principals won best costume. It’s times like this that make the bad weeks okay.