Friday, December 16, 2016

Finding myself

I have made a decision. I have not completely acted on it, just made a couple of inquiries.  I just did some exploring and I hope to be volunteering as a mentor in 2017.

I am thinking of alternate volunteer situations, yes, part time work would be great, but I am still considering what I would enjoy doing.  I now have that luxury. I can do what I would like to do, what a novel idea.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Retired. . . .just trying to figure it all out. . .

So, I had little traffic on my education blog, (the entries remain up for the curious).  But that seems to be par for the course.  I have come to the end of my teaching career, and am just trying to figure it all out.

Okay, so when someone says your days are numbered, they really don’t mean they know that number, but in some cases, some rare and extreme cases you do know.  Well, how?  How could you know, unless you have made that decision? That once in a lifetime one, that you will take that power away from God. Essentially play God. I was asked once, have you thought about it?  Yes, I have, but it is not really an option.  That is too easy.  What purpose would that be? To what end?  We each do have a purpose, and like right now, I don’t have a clue as to what my purpose could be.  I am rudderless.  

So, introspection is in order.  I have done lots of introspection, and I am coming up short in the column of good, more in the column of mediocre. How do I balance it out?  I am tired of apologizing.  I did the best I could with what I had. I earnestly tried to be better at what I invested my life in doing.  Why couldn’t someone have said, you are doing a great job?  Why can we only see the negatives? I think I had friends. I thought a lot of things, not all of them pleasant not all of them accurate, not all of them beneficial. I would like to turn things around, but it is a struggle.  Is this how it really feels?  To be broken? 

I became broken on December 7 last year, appropriately Pearl Harbor Day.  I received a diagnosis, (chronic and no cure) which has consumed me, which had crippled me from continuing my career.  I made the decision to leave my career.  So, I essentially aborted my identity.  I think this is why people who retire die shortly after retirement.  They no longer see a purpose for living.  I can understand that now.  So I am struggling with finding a purpose.  Since I have broken, I have lost my confidence, my self-assurance, and my tenacity. Basically a shell of the person I was once. Where do I do to find her again?  Will I find her or find someone else who used to be her?

I have tried to come up with some things to occupy my time.  I am not having much success.  I could volunteer at some place, but I can’t be depended upon by others to not hurt, to not be in pain, to be able to volunteer.  I have lost confidence in my driving skills so my volunteering has to be close to me.  I don’t drive at night anymore, so it has to be during daylight hours.  I have limits and I think they are shutting me down.  I do not wish to be in a stressful situation which would cause my disability to worsen.  I do not know if there is anyone I can help.

I am just trying to figure it all out.

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Conversation

I began blogging in a attempt to start conversations.  I wonder if I have accomplished that goal.  I am still teaching, still "fighting the good fight;" are there any people out there doing the same?  I do know that there are, but they are being extremely quiet. I understand this situation.  Teachers, especially young teachers, would like to keep their positions at least until that dreaded tenure year, and hopefully pass the deadline to become tenured.  Tenure is not the "devil" that is "ruining" education.  Tenure is a safety net for teachers to not be fired for little or no cause.  The public does not seem to understand this concept, but that is for another blog.

I haven't posted on my blog for a considerable amount of time, because I haven't had the time to do so nor the inclination.  There have been changes in my school, some are advantageous and some are not so advantageous.  I have spoken with some folks to garner their "take" on the happenings, and so far they are in agreement with my own understanding.

Of course, I have been reading.  I have read many other articles about teaching, the state of the American public school, charter schools, and  op-ed articles that have been floating around on the nether world that we call the internet.  This one article is an op-ed piece, which was written by another teacher and it speaks to me, maybe it will to you also.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Who cares?

We have just completed another school year.  I begin my period of long reflection (summer break) and as I work in my garden and yard, I ask myself, who cares?  Who really cares?  I don't know the answer.

Yes, I think some of my students care while they are with me.  Yes, I think some of the parents care while their student is with me.  The key words in both of those sentences are "with me," in a school setting.

We've all heard that old axiom, "put your money where your mouth is,"  and I have tried to do that.  Yes, once upon a time, I was greatly disturbed by an article written about education and all that was wrong with it.  That was back in the '80's.  Now, when I look back the 1980's was 30 years ago.  In the 1980's we (society) were questioning "why can't little Johnny read?" That question is still relevant today.  That question is the reason I went back to college and earned my teaching certificate, then returned to college and earned my Master's degree, then completed my National Board Teacher certification, then returned to college and earned my Educational Specialist degree.

And I'm still asking, why can't John read?  I put my money where my mouth was, I went back to school and educated myself and began trying to educate our children. What I have found, through these years of experience, is that the problem has not improved, but only gotten worse.  We hear about all the programs, initiatives, funding, and legislation enacted and made available to help our children succeed, but they are preforming at levels that are not acceptable to me as a teacher.

That makes me think of another axiom, "What is the definition of insanity?  Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."  Teachers are loosing more and more control of what and how they teach.  In some cases, it is needed.  Although, in the majority of cases it is not.  We are professionally trained and certified by our state institutions to be teachers.  Let us do our job!

Each of these new initiatives, grants, funds, (whether they originate from public, private or government) sources, bring their own set of mandates.  So our leadership acquires these for us, and then demands that we meet all the criteria.  It becomes a game of compliance.  Teachers are overburdened with making sure we document, explain, prove, that we are meeting all the criteria for the programs, and ultimately loosing instructional time.  The one thing we need more than anything else.  We loose time with our students.  We loose time to teach them.

After years of seeing money poured into the system, I still have students coming into my classroom that can not read on grade level, and some who simply can not read.  The majority of my students are average readers, there is only a handful that excel at reading.

Oh, I won't even start writing about the ability to physically write on paper with pen and or a pencil.

Yes, I know exactly what my students need to excel, although I am busy proving that I am doing my job.  It is a "catch 22."  I enjoy having a house, clothing, and food on my table.  If anyone in the private or public sector thinks any teacher is living at any standard that is above lower middle class then they haven't walked in a teacher's shoes, or a spouse of a teacher's shoes, or a child of a teacher's shoes.

Put you money, and or time, where your mouth is. . .go to your local boards of education, call your representatives, but really what you need to do first is come to school and help us.

Rant over.

Monday, February 3, 2014

We know how to FIX education.

Yes, we really do know how to fix education;  lower teacher student ratios and more time in the classroom.  This is really an easy fix.

So, why does this not happen? 

I am passionate about my chosen career, education.  Most educator's feel this way.  I believe most educators see it as probably one of the most important careers that exists.  Most educators are dedicated to their students and want to do whatever there is in their power to make their students' successful.  Many of us do not feel that another test will do that.  Many of us know that another test will not "fix" our students.

Our students are unique individuals, one size does not fit all.  We can not operate on a "business" model.  Our students are not objects, they are people.  Until each community, each school examines their own issues and challenges, and addresses those at the school level, improvement will not happen.  Mandates will not cure the problem, technology will not cure the problem, new standards will not cure the problem, new teacher evaluation methods will not cure the problem. 

We need to stop spending money on "stuff" that does not work.  We need to hire more teachers!  If necessary, we may have to build more classrooms. Lower the teacher student ratio and watch the scores explode!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

How to FIX Education

So, in the world of education, many people know and understand how to "fix" the problem.  We know what to do.  Ask any educator who has 15 plus years of experience in the classroom.

The overwhelming answer is LOWER student teacher ratios.

That means more teachers in schools.

It is not a program, it is not a "magic bullet."

It is not a grant.

It is not a innovation.

It is not something you can buy.

It is the solution and it can happen, if we want it to happen.

Lower student teacher ratios will raise test scores.  It really doesn't matter what test you use.  Use the ACT or the SAT.  If you lower student teacher ratios, you will increase scores. PERIOD.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Back To School

It is that time of year again!

Gearing up and returning to school for teachers means that we are required to complete our Professional Development trainings.  I have a required 24 clock hours to complete.  I am sure other schools across the US require something very similar.

As is usually the case, one of our professional development days is allocated to our central office and is used to inform us of any changes that we need to be aware of or any initiatives that will be occurring this school year.  Our individual schools will host other professional developments for each staff. 

I am not entirely sure of how other teachers feel about their professional developments or planning for the opening of school, but sometimes I feel like my administrator blind folds me, leads me into a totally pitch dark room and leaves me there with instructions to find the light switch.  Sometimes I really feel like I am trying to feel my way along the wall for the switch.

I am the type of person, that wants at least 2 to 3 weeks lesson plans complete, so that I will not be overwhelmed and can just make necessary modifications as the need arises.  A lack of communication about what days are going to be used for which activities leaves me lost.  I am not sure when to begin teaching content because I am not sure what we are doing for the first three days of school.  So, yet another year has arrived, when I am again at this spot.  I do not have the authority to correct the situation, although, I have the knowledge and ability to correct it; communicate scheduled activities and plans so that the staff can begin planning their content and allocating resources in their classrooms.

I know that this information I want will not be forthcoming early and I should just step back and let it come when it does; it would be far less frustrating for me if I did just that.

I remember one of the lines from the movie, O Brother Where Art Thou . . ."gentlemen what you do not want in a conversation . . . .(pause) is dead air."  Yes, what I do not want is dead air.