||[6th of October, 2010 at 10:54 pm]
What's Her Face
I haven't written anything here since March. To be honest, I had forgotten I once did this... summer was wonderful. I was so incredibly lazy, so unproductive, and it was heaven. I am at peace with not working.
I am back at work now, however, and working for new administration. I swear the new principal hates me. She won't give me the time of day, or even acknowledge me when I say hello or ask how she's doing in the hallway. Someone told me it was "just how she is", but how can someone "just be" unwilling to say hello or nod or smile or say "fine"... naturally? How can that be their default? So socially odd. Clearly, she hates me. I haven't don't anything very bad or annoying, but there's no other plausible explanation.
We went to a meeting today that has reawakened the funk of last year, and I am sitting here nearly in tears because I thought I was free of that nonsense, yet here it is, slapping me in the face and calling me a moron for being so naive (I prefer "optimistic" or "positive"). I was so enjoying having a clue, being organized, staying a step or two ahead of the day... or even the hour. But I should have known it wouldn't last. I am anxious again, thus physically feeling the consequences of the frivolity that shrouds the american educational system. Our kids fail...
Because we're not using the right purchased curriculum.
Because we're not incorporating a sufficient number of graphic organizers.
Because we're clearly not taking advantage of their cultural heritage in explaining how to add and subtract fractions.
Because we don't cater to their linguistic needs.
Because we aren't making graphs to evidence their progress from one grading period to another.
Because we aren't emphasizing the processes involved in learning.
Because we're not scaffolding our questioning according to their individual abilities.
Or... because they're lazy, they're hormonal, and their parents don't give a flip. I dunno. I haven't been to that training yet.
We are graced this year with the opportunity to participate in "Instructional Rounds", akin to medical rounds, in that they are designed to diagnose and treat campus ailments associated with poor student achievement. About 15 times in this meeting we had about Instructional Rounds, we were told that they were completely nonevaluative. Non-judgemental. Purely objective. Simply a means of gathering data. Our peers and supervisors will visit our rooms and script everything said and done to be later analyzed by a team of teachers and administrators who are better and smarter than everyone else. Then, the people who suck have to go to additional training.
Wait, I'm getting catty. Let me try again. Then, based on the data, teachers will be given the opportunity to improve those specific areas in which the campus as a whole has been proven to be deficient.
That's great, but here's my problem with it. When a human has experience with a task (int his case, teaching) and is subsequently in a position to observe another human performing that same task, it is natural, instinctual even, to make a comparison, a connection, identify similarities, and evaluate what they have observed. They have a foundation, their own experiences, for passing judgement, and so they do. It's happening somewhere in the brain, I know it is, regardless of what anyone says aloud or writes on sticky notes. I have not read any scientific studies about this... but it's true, right? Are we not evaluative creatures by nature? And if so, how is sending a group of people with educational experience into a classroom to observe and record everything that happens there considered a non-evaluative exercise? The only thing non-evaluative about it is the fact that they will all have to, according to some book with some bulleted list of guidelines about some arbitrary procedures, try their darnedest not to record evaluative statements. It doesn't mean those statements are not formed, are not communicated... they're just not written.
I'm going to have a group of people come in and make silent judgments about the quality of the work I do, then never actually tell me what they thought or wrote or discussed with that fabulously important group of people who will be making campus/district-wide decisions. Some of them are people I see every day, work closely with, even. That could change the dynamic of our working relationship tremendously, especially if I suck. And often, I do suck. The work I do is an epic waste of time. Ask any of my kids.
So... all that to say, I'm wallowing this evening in frustration and severe discontent with my job. So much of the crap they have us do seems so pointless in the grand scheme of things, so meaningless to everyone choosing not to worship the frequent and unpredictable desires of our nation's educational theorists. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I don't care enough about my job. Maybe it's just a job to me, and it's supposed to be a lifestyle or a religion.
I'm tired of spinning my wheels and going nowhere. I put in plenty of hours, I do what I'm asked to do and then some, and do it to the best of my ability while maintaining a healthy level of sanity and caffeination, but when it's all said and done, it's not about me.
If they're going to learn something, it won't be because I danced around the room reciting poetry about acute angles, or because we wrote our angle vocabulary in boxes instead of ovals, or because every third word is also written in Spanish, or because I made them share their feelings about angles before we did our classwork.
It will be because they decided, before they even entered the school building, that today was a day they were going to learn something.