We've known each other for several years; went to the same credential program. She was an elementary teacher, but is now teaching social studies and English at Unnamed Junior High School. She teaches a block of each subject twice a day with an extra social studies thrown in at the end. She has to teach this way (combined subjects) because of her multiple subject credential.
Anyway. I've written before how the top guns are pressuring the English department to all teach the same thing at the same time and the same way. We must have common assessment you know. And how could we do that if we dared go off and teach allusion and figures of speech with our own chosen story, rather than Raymond's Run on page 377 in the Holt Literature book?
The members of my department agree that this is ludicrous, but also realize that we have to address it (placate our administrators).
Not Ms. G. Nope. She's going to do her own thing, damn it. No working together at all. Yesterday the eighth grade English teachers met to discuss what we would cover during the last part of this semester. We have a basic overview of the standards we address each quarter specifically, but that's not enough for our bosses this year.
What we all but Ms. G. decided was that no matter how we teach Response to Literature, or Literary Devices or whatever, we will use the short, multiple choice quiz from the Holt book for each section. These quizzes are written in that same weird-ass way the STAR test is written (you know, testing the writing standard by having the students proofread an essay? Like that makes a lot of sense), and they are short enough that they don't take away from our teaching too much.
And it makes Mr. Principal and Ms. Vice Principal happy. It's not a bad way to make sure we are all teaching the same thing, even if we do go about it in different ways.
Ms. G. is having none of it. "I teach Response to Literature" all the time. I don't need to do an assignment from the book or give them a test to know what I'm teaching."
I know how she feels, but on the other hand, after reading the quiz questions, I know that there have been some holes in terms of how I teach particular standards. Writing a Technical Document? I kinda skipped over that one most of the time. Idiomatic phrases? I'd talk about them as figures of speech and similes and metaphors, but did I use the term "Idiomatic Phrases"? Probably not.
There is a good thing in all of this, and that's making sure that no matter which teacher a student has, no matter what texts are used, we as teachers can cover specific standards, using the same language in each of our classrooms, and use these little 20 minute quizzes to inform our teaching.
Problem is, it's not enough for the top brass, and asking too much of our creative "don't fence me in I'll do it my own way" teachers.