Although she teaches elementary school, and she is in another state, Lisa Parisi sounds like me. Her last post is very insightful and I encourage you to go over and read about what she is going through and to realize this is happening all over the country. Veteran teachers, who really do know how to teach well, are being ignored for all the “programs” that are being sold to districts.
Although no money for teachers and classrooms, there is plenty of money for “training,” and so the districts are buying these canned programs with high hopes of increasing test scores. Good teaching is losing out because the teachers are told they MUST adhere to the program, lock-step, or else.
Next year there will be another new program, with all the bells and whistles, that will increase test scores. That much you can count on.
How is this idea of paying teachers according to test scores going to work in a middle school or high school where students have more than one teacher a day? Will we just reward those teachers whose subjects are tested, like English and math? What happens to the PE teacher? The elective teacher?
My idea is to team teachers with a set of students. It would be similar to the Marketing Academy where we have students for three years with the same set of teachers. The cohort of teachers includes language arts, science, social science, and electives. We could even add in PE and foreign language teachers to round out the offerings.
Then we look at the students taught by each team and see how they are doing on those test scores. Going up, doing better, on track for graduation. Good, teachers get a raise. Poor test scores, failing grades, not ready to graduate. Ok, pay cut. I would be quite happy to teach in such an environment, but I want to pick the teachers with whom I teach. Some teachers are great at the team concept; others are lone rangers who want to close the door and be left alone.
For 20 years our team of teachers has told our failing students in the Marketing Academy they must attend summer school and bring up their grades and keep current with their credits. Some do; some don’t. This year our district is mandating ALL low achieving students attend summer school. I can’t wait to see how this works.
My summer vacation is over. Although the kids don’t come back until the 18th, this next week is filled to the brim, and I have to set my alarm for 5 a.m. again.
Monday and Tuesday are Link Crew days when the new freshmen come for orientation. I’m always excited to see the new kids, and although I don’t teach freshmen, I will make sure to get lots of pictures of the fresh, new faces and their expressions as they get acquainted with the big campus.
Wednesday is our first inservice day when we hear the numbers, as in how our test scores line up with the rest of the district and the rest of the state. We’ll see the subgroups and progress of each and then we’ll see if we’re still in trouble. Makes my stomach churn every year.
Thursday is the first official day back for faculty and my yearbook photographer who does the professional pictures will be there to get a photo of each staff member. I love these pictures because everyone is well rested, optimistic, happy to be back with their friends and coworkers. We will hear introductions of all the new staff, and it’s a large number this year due to retirements and the new freshmen program.
Friday is when we rotate through workshops that will give us teaching tips and tell us how to use the new grading program the district is trying out on us this year. We seem to often be asked to demo these things. I guess if it works with our school, it will work anywhere else.
Somewhere in there teachers will be required to set up their classrooms, get their syllabus turned in, be ready for the first day. Since the freshmen classrooms aren’t quite ready, it may be the weekend before those teachers get to set up their rooms. Here’s an example:
No matter what, though, the kids are coming the 18th.
Yesterday was Day of the Teacher, and to celebrate that, a local news station decided to run a piece, in two parts, about the teacher absences at local schools. My school, and its middle school feeder school, happen to score the top spots for the number of substitutes sent to cover for absent teachers. Nothing was said about the conditions in which the teachers at these schools must work.
The news broadcaster pointed out how the schools with high teacher absences have lower test scores. The message was that the low scores are caused by those teachers not being in their classrooms. As if that is the only factor at these schools with so many problems.
What a way to wish us a Happy Teacher Day.