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?"

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Educational Blogging


Well, I recently have been checking out a few educational blogs; Joann Jacobs, Jenny D., EdWonk and a few others. Have left a couple of comments here and there. Over at Jenny D's blog, someone named Plum, who I found via his blog page is a PROFESSOR OF EDUCATION at a university "in the Texas Hill Country," let me a comment on my comments about teacher choice. Plum, Thanks for your comments. I can only speak from my own educational experiences in my 21 years of public school teaching and what I am experiencing as my two young children go through their public school experiences.
Have you looked at Open Court? Much of it seems to be what I experienced back in the late 60's, a supplimental reading program called SSR which we used when we students finished some work, went over to pick a card, read the story and answered a couple of questions about the story. However, my teachers did NOT have a "reading coach" monitoring their "progress towards the program goals" or administrators berating them for not being on page 666 on November 11, because that's WHERE THEY ARE REQUIRED TO BE IN THE PROGRAM at that time. This is the current experience of my sons teachers, both of whom probably have at least 60 years elem. teaching experience and a LONG track record of sucess in teaching their students. They no longer have the opportunity to use that experience because they have been told, "this is what the district has decided you WILL DO." I also understand, that there is never sufficient time to begin to train or allow teachers to familiarize themselves on the new programs the district is telling them they WILL TEACH. They have a math program that is also a "canned" program. OH, and it doesn't matter if all their students don't learn it the first speed trip through a chapter, unit or whatever, they MUST GO ON, because otherwise, they will not finish the program. TO ME, THIS IS SAD. My wife and I care who our sons teachers are, and have so far, requested which teacher we'd like them to have each year. And, so far, those requests have been happily granted by the school principal. ( NO, we am not personal buddies with the principal ). It is also sad, that my sons, who are reading at much higher that their grade levels, are sitting in a classroom having to endure this program. IF their teachers were allowed to say, use the Open Court material for the reading level my sons are at, that might be ok. But to subject a bright second grader who is reading at the fifth/low sixth grade level to grade 2 level Open Court material? We want them to stay focused, to stay interested, NOT to get so bored they start to tune out or lose interest in school. ( thank goodness for AR (Accelerated Reader.....that helps keep them going in regards to reading! ).
As for me, teaching is not quite as fun as it used to be, in part because of the pressure about testing and "getting through the framework/standards". Here in California, the framework/standards for my current subject, Grade 7 World History, basically covers the history of the world, except Antarctica, from the Fall of Rome to just Post Age of Exploration. There is no way such a large scope of history can be covered very well or throughly in such a short amount of time. The State of California also has approved only one textbook for Grade 7 World History; a textbook that is the only one submitted by the publishers that covered SOME of the framework/standards for this class. Are there other texts that might be better, for use with MY students? Yes. Especially since 90% of my students cannot read and comprehend THIS text. They have problems with the English language (most are classified EEL [English Language Learners]). They do not have the background they need for this subject, (which is supposed to be taught in prior grades but History and Science are pretty much not taught according to framework/standards in grade 5 - 6 because of the TESTING emphasis being only on reading and math). So, can I use another textbook? No. Those are not on the "Approved" list of Primary Text materials and hence, schools cannot purchase them with state money.
So, what do I do? I do what I can with my own supplimental materials, experience and love for my subject. I try to make it as varied, interesting and fun as I can. Do my students like my class? Some do, some do not. Is my class taught like I used to teach it? No. It has always been a work in progress. I use the materials and experieces I have gathered over the years to try each year to best teach my subject matter to my students. Do pacing guides that my school administration have given us, help us? No. I know what my standards are. I also know that my many RSP, ELL and a few GATE kids will never learn at the same "pace" Time to stop for now....

IF you have gotten this far, thanks for reading my ramble.