Monday, August 29, 2011

Can't I Just Close My Door and Teach?

    Today I had a very productive day where my students had fun learning without interruption.  Then came an after school faculty meeting.  At our meeting we were told to take our schedules and toss them out.  We then had to align 1,665 minutes of instruction into seven periods.  We also had to consider the mandated time allotments, forced reading block, forced intervention block and specials.  Comments were made by my administrators such as “You must teach health and social studies every day even if it is just for five minutes.”   “You’ll have to teach less math or cut your math block time to an hour at the intermediate level.”  Further threats were made about this being tied to our evaluation and if administrators walked into our room, we better be teaching at the appropriate place on the schedule.   
     I worked on the numbers for about two and a half hours and finally thought I had it.  I have a sneaking suspicion that there might be a minor problem.  Not with the schedule, but my new schedule may not fit into the computer just right.  The computer doesn’t care what is best for the students. The computer is simply there to make sure that all the teachers look the same on paper. 
     In the good old days you could just nod your head in a meeting and then go into your classroom, shut the door, and do whatever you wanted to.  With this new age of accountability someone in an office at the state capital thinks up a “brilliant” idea.  They then call someone at the county, who then threatens the principals, who then unload on the teachers.  The downhill minutia can get so deep that by the time it hits the teachers it is a big smelly mess.
      One of my favorite phrases is that if you don’t like something, then just wait a few weeks.  It will be changed by then.  As I fussed and fumed this evening about the hours of my life that I was wasting on a schedule that was simply going to be put into a computer and forgotten, I wanted to just cut loose and tell everyone I came in contact with what a ridiculous activity I was forced to waste time on.  I even had to go to a school meeting and would have to put on my cheerful face in front of students, parents, and administrators.   I didn’t know if I could pull it off.
      After an hour away from the schedule I was able to begin to get a grip.  The reality is that regardless of how I feel, I’ve been told to fill out this new schedule and turn it in.  No one asked me my opinion and the general public probably doesn’t care about my stupid schedule.  So I have the choice to turn this into a big deal or just do my best and turn it in.  I refuse to become one more teacher who goes out into public and just talks about all the ridiculous parts of our job.  We have enough trouble getting respect as it is. 
  So I guess my plan is to turn it in early and I’m sure it will just sit in an office for a while.  If I have done something wrong then I’m sure an administrator will let me know and will possibly provide me with a feasible way to accomplish this impossible task.  Until then, I’ll get back to my room, shut the door, and get back to having a great time helping the kids to learn. That is my idea of a “brilliant” idea.

(In the comments below, please let me know some of the ridiculous things you have had to do as a teacher this year.)     

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