Monthly Archives: January 2016

This Teacher DIDN’T Win the Powerball

This Teacher DIDN’T Win the Powerball

So . . . I didn’t win the massive Powerball jackpot last night.  Of course, considering I didn’t buy a ticket, it wasn’t a big surprise.  However, all the hoopla surrounding the millions and millions of dollars made me daydream a bit.  What if . . .?
lotto-864035_640There was a point in my career that I would’ve said I wouldn’t quit my job.  And I really meant it.  Now, though?  I’d be out of there!  I’d probably do the ethical thing and give a two-weeks’ notice.  After all, I’m friends with several of my coworkers, and I’d hate to leave them to take on my responsibilities.  So I’d give them two weeks and be done. beach

But as frustrated as I am with the education system right now, I do still love teaching, and I think schools and teachers and students deserve the best.  So I starting thinking about what I could do for my school with all of that money at my disposal.

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My first thought was computers.  (And you know that popped into your head right away, too.)  But not just any computers – those fancy tablet/laptop computers that can work with a keyboard, or with a pen, or as a touchscreen.  They’re small, lightweight, and flexible.  One for everyone–students, teachers, paras.  Maybe one for school and one for home so they don’t have to be carried back and forth.  And hotspots for everyone in case there’s no internet at home.  That would be perfect, wonderful.  Until a parent sold their kid’s computer.  Or it was stolen or broken and parents insisted on a replacement.  Or family members used it for inappropriate activities.  Not to mention, now that I think about it, propping a computer in front of a kid doesn’t automatically teach them all they need to know.  There’s something to be said for the smell of a book, the feel of putting pencil to paper, the accomplishment of creating a masterpiece with paint and brush.  Besides, buying computers is kind of cliché, everyone wants to do it.

 

What would be something more unique?  Something a school would have no chance of getting anywhere else.  Something everyone would use.  Then it dawned on me . . .

A complete building gut and remodel!

  • First, all remodeling would occur over the summer when no students were present, not during teaching days. A mobile office would be provided for the administrators and secretaries who have to work those months, so they wouldn’t have to be in the school building with construction going on around them.
  • All portables should be combined into permanent, under-roof classrooms. No random metal buildings dropped throughout the campus.
  • All building would be connected by covered sidewalks, with attention paid to corners and inclines so there are no concerns for students in wheelchairs or with canes or walkers.
  • Next, all walls, ceilings, and floors would be gutted. All mold and asbestos remediated. asbestos-1522143-640x480
  • Then, all would be rebuilt. Roofs replaced.  Insulation added.  Windows in every room.  Inside rooms provided with skylights or skytubes to provide natural light.  Doors installed with window openings, handles that turn to the right and open without wiggling.  All doors wired with the capability of opening automatically to provide access to students in wheelchairs or with canes or walkers.
  • Air conditioning units would be installed that were the correct size to efficiently cool and heat the building. Each room would be able to control its own temperature, and no units would run so loudly that the teacher could not be heard.
  • Now, inside. Drywall would be installed, covered with a washable finish in a neutral, non-hospital-reminiscent color.  Tiled floors in a neutral color, not white (don’t you know how much dirt that shows?), and definitely no blocks of a different shade because you ran out of the correct color.
  • Every room would get a bathroom and a cold water fountain. Closed storage, shelves, and cubbies in a neutral wood grain, not pink, salmon, light green, white, or any of the varied shades of blue.  All computer hubs and equipment in closed, non-intrusive cabinets, not crookedly mounted sticking 24 inches out of a random spot on the wall.
  • Fluorescent lights would be replaced with LED lighting designed to simulate daylight. Multiple electrical outlets would be mounted on every wall of the room.
  • Finally, it would be furnished. Tables of the appropriate height for younger students.  Desks for older students.  Kidney or horseshoe tables for small group time.  And make sure all the desks and tables have the same top finish.  Again, I like the wood grain, but, please, let’s make it all the same shade of brown.  And chairs—I actually like the plastic chairs we have at our school, but let’s not do yellow, orange, or maroon.  Now is an okay time to bring in the navy.  And maybe a matching navy rug for carpet time or just to deaden the sound when you have a tile floor.  There are ball chairs and standing desks that some teachers swear by.  Those would be a possibility
  • Oh, yeah, and every room would have a teacher’s desk where all of the drawers open and the top doesn’t have grooves that mess up your writing. And a teacher chair that doesn’t slowly sink as you sit in it that fits under your desk when you try to push it in.   beautiful-smile-1436191-640x960

 

I think a physical environment like that would be dreamy!!!  Can you imagine bringing kids into a new, clean-smelling, matching environment?  Do you think it would make a difference with the students?  What did I miss?

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Educating in a Broken System

Educating in a Broken System

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You know that hero in a movie who keeps running into obstacles–a kidnapper, a sniper, a bomb, a short time line, a riddle to solve a puzzle to find the clue to the treasure map, the computer password, his best friend’s a traitor, and, oh yeah, his wife calls to tell him to bring home milk?

 

Well, that’s how it feels to be a teacher in a public school right now.  The law says you can have 18 students in your classroom, but you actually have 21.  You get 45 minutes of duty-free planning a day, but you are required to attend meeting 3 out of 5 days of the week.  You don’t have enough books (you have enough for the 18 legally allowed in your class, but not the extra 3).  You want to teach your students, but one day a week you are required to give reading, writing, and math assessments, and another day of the week you are expected to review the results with students and analyze the data. inside-a-class-room-school-1435436-639x425

Of your 21 students,

  • 4 have special education labels,
  • 2 speak no English,
  • 3 speak limited English,
  • 7 are reading at least one year below grade level,
  • 2 are gifted and reading 3 grade levels ahead,
  • 2 have medical diagnoses but their parents refuse medication,
  • 3 have medical diagnoses managed with medication (although 1 runs out at the end of each month),
  • 2 have anger management difficulties,
  • 1 has severe impulse control issues,
  • 1 has a DCF case manager that visits weekly,
  • 1 is in foster care,
  • 1 is the child of a teacher,
  • 10 have computers at home, 3 with Internet
  • and 4 fall into the average category.

Your success/adequacy is judged based on the one-time-a-year scores on a test that you’ve never seen, that was created by someone in another state who may or may not have experience educating students.  Social studies is not tested, so there is no time to be wasted on history, maps, community helpers, or citizenship.  Social skills and physical health are not graded, so no time can be wasted teaching those skills.  Art and music?  You can teach them, but they must be tested with a written assessment.  Real life, vocational, job skills?  Not tested.  No time for those.

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You get the picture?

 

Check out this article from Yes! Magazine:  http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-uprising/the-myth-behind-public-school-failure.  I firmly believe that the privatization of education is the goal of many—eyes on the money available.  For it or against it, it’s hard to deny that public schools (and their teachers) are being set up for failure.  Unreachable standards and expectations, raised even further out of reach, with little or no resources to use to meet them.

 

ME?  I take the challenge.  I went to public school.  My daughter goes to public school.  I continue to work in a public school.  Is it easy?  NO.  But do I like a challenge?  YES!  I want to be the movie hero (or heroine to be more accurate), overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles to meet ostensibly impossible goals.  I want to beat the bad guy, disarm the bomb, find the treasure, and bring the carton of milk home.

Want to be a hero with me?  Keep following while I share tips and tricks to incorporate in your classroom to meet both the needs of your students and the requirements of the government.  For now, check out my Pinterest board:  https://www.pinterest.com/djcampbell23/school/ for some ideas that have caught my eye.

 

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