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Saturday, November 20, 2010


The house is quiet and I am enjoying the silence.  I have finished (I hope) my first round of report cards of the year and am basking in the glow.  I have made those parent phone calls, the ones where you have bad news about the report card but you give positive ideas and plans.  Thankfully the parents are seeing the same behaviours and have no illusions as to what their child is doing.  That makes things a little easier. 
Winter is definitely here.  It snowed and blew for a few days in a row and hit -20 something plus wind-chill at one point.  Our luck ran out and Winter is here.  I was talking to my friend in Atlanta this morning, laughing at her reaction to the temperatures.  I think she would die up here.  While we were talking I was remembering my life down there.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  The good was finding her friendship, the lifestyle, the city.  The bad was being poorly paid, the troubled students that I worked with.  The ugly was the school system.  It was awful.  Data driven instruction, teaching for testing, the constant stress and anxiety I felt every day.  We as teachers were expected to have great test scores no matter what.  I saw teachers fired, put on personal development plans, forced professional development, always the threats hanging over our heads to have our children perform.  Not learn, perform.  I remember when I got there and Math was the big deal.  Reading too, but all other subjects were overlooked as being unnecessary.  I had to have 180 minutes of uninterrupted reading instruction in my  schedule.  No wonder the students (and some of the teachers) had no concept of the world or Scientific Method.  It was crazy.  Teachers helped their students cheat on the tests.... now how does that help anyone?  I've been reading about the schools in the States and the turmoil that they are in right now because of the President's promises to the public.  Teachers are committing suicide for heaven's sake!  I do agree that teachers need to be accountable in some way for the jobs that we do.  Too many teachers hide behind unions and do a terrible job in the classroom, but there are those that are teaching for the right reasons.  We need to be recognized as professionals and not be under constant scrutiny and criticism because of test scores.  Teachers need to be able to teach in a creative way, to be able to touch all kinds of learners.  When I left Georgia scripted lessons were becoming popular in my district.  My question always was 'What if the students don't respond in the way that's in the script, but their answers are still right?'  No one ever wanted to answer that one.  They needed to say what was on the sheet and it was my job to make sure they did.  Period.  Coming back to BC to continue my career was a relief, but I have to say that I'm getting a little nervous about all the data my district likes to collect.  They always preface it with 'we're looking at the students not the teachers' but it's not a big jump.  Do I think we should be testing students?  Yes.  Do I think that should be the only information that we base accountability on?  No way.  Do I have the answers?  Nope, but I'm willing to look at all the alternatives.  I lived in a 'testing system'  I lived with No Child Left Behind.  It was the teachers that got left behind.

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