Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Saturday, October 13, 2007

What's in your "teacher binder ?"

So, what is in your "teacher binder?" I have a computer gradebook, so student grades are not in my teacher binder. My binder is a simple, non-descript, three-D-rings, blue binder and is new for this school year. So what's in my teacher binder?

Opening up my binder, you will find the inside pocket with a few pacing guide papers. In a plastic sheet protector, are a couple of postcard sized mini-posters by the graphic artist Shepard Farley, "OBEY" Department of Public Works: Dissent Porliferation," "GIANT Cured all my obedience Problems." The next page is also a sheet protector housing the District School year Calendar on one side and a list of the AV/Tech. equipment I have officially checked out to me.
Taped or glued onto a thin sheet of cardboard, are several "teaching" ideas along with an "In-N-Out" hamburger joint sticker. The next page features a collection of favorite Dilbert cartoons, a small copy of an Andy Warhol picture of Jackie O. and my computer and copy machine code numbers. There is also a picture of one of my son's in his costume as a Munchkin mayor when he was in the Wizard of Oz play a couple of years ago.
Yes, there is student related stuff in my teacher binder. Advisory class "graded" stuff is next, with grade sheet about who is doing their daily planner properly and has the proper parent signatures each school day following the weekend, and their AR data. Then, my attendance sheets for each class, along with a print out of grades for any student who left my class ( just in case they show up again or for some reason, these are needed ). Next comes the Salzman Discipline method Discipline Record sheets for each class.
Towards the back of my binder, we find a copy of the (variable) school discipline procedures, my personal teaching improvement plan and some pictures of a guy in San Diego who had small pox, circa early 1900's. I keep that in my teacher binder for when we talk about diseases in the middle ages, I can show students what someone suffering from small pox looks like.

Thats it. That is what is in my teacher binder.

Thanks for reading my blog.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Life changes....Teaching under cloud of NCLB

As I noted in this blog over the summer, I was diagnosed with type II Diabetes and had to make some changes. Among the changes I have to make, involve changing how and what I eat. I am trying to strictly follow the diet guidelines recommended by the American Diabetes Association. I still don't miss (too much), the sweets. I still miss my larger portions of cheese and meats. Since mid-July, I have lost about 30 pounds. I "complain" to my wife that her husband is shrinking, and she says that is a "good thing." My clothes are baggy and loose and I have put new notches in my belts. I suspect that I will get some new clothes for Christmas.

Another aspect of this is remembering to take my metaformin before each meal. Sometimes, I remember to do this, other times I remember during or after the meal. But overall, I am surviving.

Teaching. Lots of stuff going on at my "long term" failing school. Again, WE missed the APS, AYP, ASS, or whatever the NCLB moniker is.....and as usual, it was one of our "socially-promoted, not-held-accountable-for-their-learning-or-behavior" sub-groups that sunk us. So, us teachers are suffering for it. Suffering from the threats or promises of what can/will happen to teachers of consistently failing schools. Suffering through late afternoon "how to teach" inservice presented to us by people who have not taught real children (not counting how some teachers behave in these inservices), in a number of years. Suffering through these inservices' because they are not well planned. Take for example, our most recent inservice on AVID skills. Our school is "AVIDized" and we were told by the presenter, that our administrators would be looking for "AVID" techniques when they visited our classrooms ! This presentation would have been much more useful if we had been seated in department groups and allowed a tiny bit of time to actually discuss how to best use the introduced ideas/techniques for teaching our material. Instead, we were lumped together in a mish-mosh manner and not alotted time to discuss this because we had to get through this presentation. One teacher, who tried to ask a question about a procedure, had a stickly pad thrown at him and told to write down his question and maybe we'll get to it later! I must have missed the part of the vast catacombs of NCLB that allow teachers to be treated in such a manner. Our staff is working their butts off, and have been successful with our students. But this is ignored by NCLB. Instead, teachers must be whipped harder. It is no wonder that I continue to read about failing schools not being able to find teachers. Didn't the 14th amendment to our US Constitution outlaw slavery ?

Oh, I also noted that over the summer, I wrote to many of our congressional leaders who are Education Committee members or representatives from my state. So far, I have only received two replies, one from my local representative in the House of Representatives and one from one of our two Senators. Both were political responses, neither really said much about NCLB one way or another. Was this a wasted effort ?

Thanks for reading my blog.

Clique (union) Follies.....

The few of you who periodically check this blog know I haven't posted in several weeks. Among other things, I have been busy with other things.

Our local union clique really fumbled the ball again. Our school district has three of the five board seats up for grabs in next months election. I started making noises about it at building rep meetings last spring. These querries were pretty much ignored by the clique that currently is enthroned in the local teachers union. When I brought up my questions at the September building rep meeting, I was told to talk to the person who was appointed PAC Committee leader. I asked this person several times, when the PAC committee was going to meet and begin the school board candidate interviews. I was told repeatedly, that this person (the committee chair), DID NOT KNOW. I'd volunteered to be on this committee, as I have done in the past.

On a Wednesday night, I got a call from one of the negotiators who also has been involved in our PAC and many other union things. She asked me if I was still interested in helping out with the school board candidate interviews on Thursday and Friday. (Yes, the next day !) I said yes, and asked her if the candidates had been scheduled. She told me she was working on it, but could not be involved in the interviews because her husband is one of the school board candidates. She had no answer to my question about the appointed by the union local president PAC chair doing this work and why they weren't doing what they'd agreed to do. BUT, it had to be done on such short notice because the local union was up against a deadline to request funds from CTA to help support local union "endorsed" school board candidates. In short, local union leadership fumbled badly on this issue.

Anyhow, the interviews were held. All five candidates for our school board election were interviewed. These candidates for our school board had been given, at the last minute, a set of ten poorly-worded questions that were to be answered by them at the interview. Some of these questions were no longer pertinent regarding local union - school district relations. It was embarrassing and a very incompetent introduction for these school board candidates to receive from the "teachers" of this school district.

At the building rep meeting the following week, I expressed my concerns about this process and how it was handled. Our local union president just brushed it off. Our local union president did not even respond to my offer of assistance to create new school board candidate questions for our future school board elections and to be involved with our PAC. Another local union "leader" said that those questions were from CTA, as if that was good enough.

Repeatedly, the so called local union leaders have failed to communicate in a professional manner with district leadership, be they district administrators or board members. They will go to board meetings and screech about this or that during the community concerns portion of the school board meeting. But the school board cannot respond (at that time) to questions or concerns expressed during this segment of the school board meetings. Local union leaders CAN LEGALLY request to have an informational discussion with the school board at a school board meeting if they request to be placed on the board meeting agenda. But they never do. I don't even know that they informally talk about teacher concerns with board members or our new superintendent. It is pathetic. It is making me think that maybe I should run for local union president or just say "to hell with them," and become an agency fee payer. But as a dues squeezed from my paycheck member, I can still try to raise a ruckus with these incompetents.

I could go on about the unprofessional manner in which building rep meetings are conducted, and a number of other things, but I won't do that yet.

For any of you newer teachers out there; since you may be forced to be in the teachers union weather you want to be or not, I encourage you to learn as much as possible about it as you can. Learn your locals bylaws. Speak up ! Ask questions ! Demand accountability for your local union leaders ! Get involved !
Don't just sit back and ignore or put up with it. Yes, I often bang me head on the brick bastions of ignorance,incompetence and apathy, but at least for now, me head hasn't fallen off or imploded.

Thanks for reading my blog.