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.
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.
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.