Thursday, August 10, 2006

grapple revisited, or No Thought Left Behind

I've probably been whining on and on too much about work. I should probably stop now. Much of the whingeing is all tied up with my feelings and thinking about how I spend my time. So a few clarifying comments, and then I swear I'll stop. Maybe.

*I think high test scores are a good thing, in and of themselves. It's when teachers,(okay, maybe this should read "administrators") in response to pressure to get high test scores, change the curriculum from an interesting, thoughtful one, with children's real learning at the heart and center, to a fast-pased, meaningless, workbook-driven one that causes me to rant. Yeah, yeah, I know that's a run on and on sentence.

*I am troubled, at my job, by the number of workbooks and paper-and-pencil-sit-down-in-your-desk-and-copy-from-the-board activities that are being done with children who cannot read the text they are being asked to write. I think there's a better, more developmentally appropriate way to teach the Hawaii's required standards. The standards are not the problem. It's the instructional delivery.

*I'm frustrated, because I know that change is hard, parental pressure is influenced by media and politics, and that everyone involved, in their heart of hearts, wants to do best for the students. It's agreeing on those, ahem, 'best practices' that is the challenge. I've been up to my eyebrows in the school reform scene for my whole career, first by accident, later by choice. To be teaching in a school that's not embroiled in it, is unsettling, in a way. Especially when they could be so much better, so much smarter about teaching and learning.

*I have neither the desire nor ability to lead a revolution here. I just don't want to lose my revolutionary edge when it comes to my teaching practices. Two years down the line, I don't want to be the one saying "Open your skills workbook to page 239 and do the next 4 pages..."

That's all. But given the state's wacky tenure and seniority system, as well as funding for this job, I don't think I'll even have it for more than this year. I know 50% of the money paying for me is due to expire after this year, and that I can easily be bumped from my position by someone with more seniority in the district, no matter how much my school desires to keep me. There's a certain freedom in that condition, I'm thinking. Not to be tied to a way of thinking, longterm. Not to be tied to fighting a way of thinking, longterm.

There are other things to write about, but I have an early morning work meeting, so I best be going. I just don't think I've been very clear, with you or myself on this matter of workplace dissatisfaction.

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