Friday, November 11, 2005

Another productive in-service

So, yesterday was another minimum day. The teachers had a "luncheon" in the cold cafeteria (yes, it even gets cold in California, especially when the heat is not turned on. It was about 60 degrees in my room yesterday and closer to 55 in the cafeteria for lunch). I've emailed and called about the heat in my room not working, as have several other teachers, but no answer. This goes along with the fan system (no AC for us) that also wasn't working when it was 92 degrees in my classroom in September. Ah, it should toughen us up, right?

Anyway, we had an in-service after lunch. Which was held at school to keep us from actually leaving campus, eating at a real restaurant, and perhaps coming back three or four minutes late. I've heard from Mr. Principal, "I don't want to see you parking at one o'clock, I want you in this room and seated at one o' clock."


So, it was an in-service from NCCJ, which used to be the National Conference of Christians and Jews, but is now the National Conference of Community and Justice, or some other more politically correct name. Mr. Principal found it this summer (It's been around since 1927), and has now decided all his teachers should take part in it.

Actually, as a teenager, I was quite involved in NCCJ. Went to the national convention when I was 16. I told Mr. Principal that, and was informed that I should have gone to the conference this past summer. I told him I would have liked that. He told me that an email was sent to every one about it and frowned at me.

um. No it wasn't. No one on staff got it. Of course, we all got 34 copies of the November faculty meeting agenda, because Mr. Principal doesn't understand that he doesn't have to hit "send" more than once when emailing us, and that, just like an elevator, it doesn't make the email go out any faster.

This is the same person to whom I made several telephone calls to last July, after I found out about a conference about equity in the classroom that was being given a few towns over. Not only would the county ed office pay for it, they would actually give stipends to teachers who attended. Did Mr. Principal know about that one? No. Did he get back to me? No. Did I miss the conference? Yes.


So, we're having the NCCJ meeting in the quads, all 49 teachers plus assorted aides and counselors, and we are all still cold. Heat doesn't work over there either. We watch a video on a detracked ninth grade class in Los Angeles. They read and then have great discussions about literature and what it means. The "low" kids and the "high" kids are all given equal voices in the class. It's great, but...

We are the English department that has been told recently that we don't have time to teach novels. We don't have time for discussion of students' personal connections to literature, because it's not on the test. Who cares what they think? Critical thinking skills? Can't test those. Listening to other points of view? Well yes, of course that's important, but not as important as our API score or whether or not we hit our AYP.

For the first time yesterday, since I started teaching, I lost hope. Just briefly. The thought that I don't want to be doing this anymore passed through my mind.

I became a teacher because I love learning. I love the kids, I love teaching, but I love learning the most. Finding new things to understand and new ways to understand them. If I can help others learn to form their own opinions and then articulate them, in both the written and the spoken word, what more could I ask for?

But that's being discarded and forgotten about. Now it's about what is being tested. Can he identify a subject and a predicate? Does he understand the poetic form of a ballad enough to identify it? And can she pick the least necessary detail in a narrative she's read from a list of 4 choices?

We get the message again and again that we as teachers need to "step up" to this challenge. What challenge? We're going in the other direction my friends.

1 comment:

Mamacita said...

I wholeheartedly agree.

Wholeheartedly, and downheartedly. Sigh.