27 May 2008


I hate those posts people write after long absenses that start with "I can't believe I haven't written in so long..." so I won't start mine that way. Or did I do that anyway? It is really hard to start after long absences, even though I hate to admit that long absences are sort of a trademark of mine, much to my chagrin.

This morning I figured out that there are about ten "regular" days left, regular 8-period school days. The rest are taken up with trips, graduation, a full PD day, clerical half days (when most of the kids don't come), etc.

I'm surprised that nothing about the 8th grade English Language Arts exam has been in the papers, since apparently the students did not do well. My colleague and I have already been taken to task for our students' lack of growth. My colleague and I sat down once as part of the 8th grade "team" to discuss the results and then I had an individual meeting with Principal for my views on "what went wrong."

Funny, I've been thinking about coming back here to write about this, for my "quasi-annual entry" and I managed, through mostly seething anger, to think about how I could explain how I felt, what I thought, what I thought could be done to improve things for next year. And now that I'm sitting here, I feel defeated, and I don't know if I care that much or even where to begin.

Principal attributed some of my "failure" (my choice of word, but I felt it was implied) to being a new mom, and that was a factor. But I really don't believe that I am alone in the blame. For the first time I'm really getting a feel for one of our challenges: that WE are the ones held fully accountable even though our success relies on other people holding up their responsibilities. I've realized, sadly, that next year I am going to spend a good portion of time devoted to CMA (Covering My Ass.) I am going to document EVERYTHING. And when I say "everything" I mean EVE.RY.TH.I.NG. (Anchorman was crass, but I loved it.) SO:

1) Parent contact: Every time I call a parent, I am going to make a note of it, especially when I call them, leave my cell number so they can call back, and they don't. Why does no one ask the parents what they are doing to support their kids? Why can't they buy their kids notebooks when they have iPods? Why can't they make sure their kids get to school on time?

2) Kids' attendance: Principal asked about one particular student whose score declined, and it took all my restraint not to scream "He fucking misses school at least once a week! What do YOU think is the problem?" Someone also dicks around with our attendance, I've noticed. Kids I have marked absent mysteriously get marked present on the ATS form when I get the next days'. I know who is doing it because I have seen it being done, and I am going to throw a fit if anyone does it next year. So my book does not come close to matching what the school has on record, even though my book is correct. I am angry at myself for not speaking up.

3) Administrative help: When I need or want something from the admins, or the coach, or the lead teacher, I am going to put it ALL in writing and cc Principal. This way my requests can't be downplayed again. And interestingly, my colleague (who is a great teacher) and I have been "demoted" to lower grades for next year. But the lead teacher and coach will still be in the same positions next year.

4) Any interventions I use with specific kids, and how I use the data. We have to keep this ridiculous binder of "data" and I spent the better part of the year putting graded samples in their. Then a week before the Quality (Bullshit) Review, one of the higher-ups said, "Oh, you don't need to put student work in there, you just need to put in your findings." Well, thanks. I'm finding that this place has gone totally into the shitter, and no one really wants to do anything about it. And I've found that this binder nonsense has been shoved down my throat all year, but no one really knows its purpose. Thanks.

Lest I end on a cranky note, some more pics of my reason for putting up (temporarily, I hope) with this nonsense, my reason for everything really: Beany, happy, healthy, totally goofy and my most precious girl.


17 (really 15) more years said...

Welcome back! And I loved the Beany pics!

You hit quite a nerve when you spoke about the attendance, and it's something that I, too, need to address next year. It's not that somebody screws around with it exactly- it's just that corrections are supposedly made (often times not) by our dean- but the problem is, that ATS sheet is a legal document, MY signature is on it, and often when I check it the following morning, it's WRONG (ex: kid comes in late that I marked absent, and it's not changed, when one of the dean's very very few jobs is to make sure the ATS is correct).

You were blamed for the shitty scores? What a crock. We have a 7th grade ELA teacher who sounds like the Janice character from "Friends" and has no teaching ability. So next year, when the 8th grade scores tank will it be the 8th grade teacher's fault? Or will they somehow twist it around to put the blame on her because she somehow didn't recuperate from the emergency hysterectomy she had this year?

CYA, CYA, and CYA again- that's my philosophy as well.

Glad you're back.

NYC Educator said...

Your kid is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Beany has gotten soooo big and still as cute as ever.

FYI, the ATS is a legal document and should come to you with a change form that gets handed in at the end of the month. However, you should always question any discrepancy in the attendance since you cannot claim absences if the ATS shows no absence. And, if anything should happen to that child while he/she was supposed to be in your class, you and the school will be held liable.

Now, you know what the ELA is like. Forget curriculum and teach to the damn test next year like all the rest of us. Klein expects it, your principal expects it, the newspapers expect it. That's how everyone covers their asses.

And remember, real teaching does not begin until mid February.
Ain't teaching grand!!!

PS: Have you been checking the Open Market???

Glad you're back. Missed ya!

Anonymous said...

Well, how did your school year end.

I'm just afraid that the next time you post, it will be Beany's wedding pics.

Please don't give up on this site.
You are an excellent writer and your insights are so appreciated.

Even if it's just to to keep us up on Beany and your summer plans, let us know.

We miss you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Schoolgal. It means a lot to hear that from you. I really want to make blogging a habit, and I am working on something, so I will be back!

We are having a pretty good summer, no complaints. :)

Ms. M, too lazy to sign in.