First Day Back At School

No kids yet, but there are meetings! My favorite meeting today was when the second grade teachers went to listen to our literacy coach tell us about a NEW literacy program from Linda Dorn (of Reading Recovery fame (or infamy)). The new program is really just a list of spelling words that we are supposed to teach for 15 minutes a day. Because 15 is a magic number! No, because the word lists won't work unless they are taught for 15 minutes. No, wait. Maybe the minutes are not consecutive, allowing me to teach the best way I know how, given my class this year and their personalities, and how we interact with one another, and all that other stuff. No, that couldn't be it because that makes sense. I think the minutes are consecutive. I think there is some research to back up the 15 minute thing, but nobody believed it, so it never got published.

Anyway, the meeting included "energizers" that were like little skits we had to get involved in to get us energized (reminded me of those corporate get-togethers when the CEO thinks he can fire up the employees by cheering and putting a company logo t-shirt on over the dress shirt). It was embarrassing. I did not go to 10 years of college to be treated like a child. Maybe teachers should not be principals because they are prone to acting, well, stupid to get kids engaged. When they try to transfer that skill as a principal to teachers, it fails (plus the fact that we are fucking adults and don't respond to that shit, but, don't let common sense get in your way).

I am so NOT excited about coming back this year. We are aligning curriculum start-times within grade levels to do the same curriculum the same hour of the day so that our ULSS (intervention system) can better align with.....WHAT? I can't even follow what the hell we are talking about because it makes no sense! ULSS consists of 2 resource teachers who are supposed to help kids teachers identify as needing a little extra help. How fucking hard is it for me, the teacher, to tell ULSS "Hey, this kid needs help borrowing and carrying in math." They want to pull the kid out during my math time to remediate him. How about we leave him in my class during math, and remove him during, say, social studies, or art, or literacy, or music, or library? Or, how about after school? Or, how about whenever is best in terms of the child's willingness to go? I think there may be an easier way than requiring every class align with every other class in a grade on manufactured, written in stone times when certain curricula will be taught. That just seems a bit too rigid to work with the non-rigid nature of teaching small children. Oh, and it won't work; ULSS is an NCLB district sanction, and the euphemism we teachers use when describing ULSS is USELESS.

So, we were to plan our whole year, and put together a weekly schedule--aligned with each other--in 2 hours. Um, 2 hours you ask? Yes. Two hours for four 2nd grade teachers to talk about how we want our whole year to look, what will be taught from 10-11am, what homework will we be sending home, and the million other things we need to talk about. Except, of course, we could not complete the task. Aligning 4 teachers with one another is going to take more than 2 hours 2 days before school starts.

You want change in public schools? Give the teachers the power, remove principals, spread the extra dough around the faculty as a thank you, and get back to raising your kids. I teach 'em, you raise 'em!

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