Thursday, January 28, 2010

Canned Worms

So, I know I've been linking to tons of articles lately and I promise to get back to the usual hilarity of the classroom, but just too much has been going on. My little brain is on fire and my eyes are bleeding from staring at the computer screen. Plus, I haven't even begun to digest the whole Obama on education thing yet.

Anyway, while I was procrastinating reading through some old articles this morning, I came across this one that I saved. I mean, obvi. Check out the title (Bobb Making Sure DPS Teachers Get To Teach). Um, hello, it's about time? Yeah, nice to meet you. This article is about the Detroit public schools. Evidently their "emergency financial manager" (or Dude In A Suit) is looking into how teachers spend their time, since many of them aren't actually teaching. At first I was all, "WTF? Teachers are doing the best they can do! You try it Suit Guy!" But then I kept reading and realized that the article is referring to all the teachers who are employed by schools and are required to teach five periods a day, yet only see two or three classes. This means other teachers are getting screwed with larger class sizes which isn't good for their sanity anyone.

Let me give a big old disclaimer by saying I don't know anything about this dude except for what I've read in this article. From this article I have learned that a) he has nice taste in suits, and b) he has a bit of a point.

Walk with me down memory lane for a moment as I rant spin a tale of wasted time. Now while most of the regular classroom teachers were busting their butts trying to squeeze every ounce of learning out of every single minute humanly possible, were running around like crazy people to fit it all into one day, were killing themselves to maximize the learning opportunities created each and every day, there were other teachers (It's always the OTHER TEACHERS...)who were, let's say, doing less than that.

Disclaimer number two and an indication that maybe I should reign in my opinions if I need two disclaimers: Big Mama Mimi is currently an out of the classroom teacher who kicks a*s each and every day. She is the Champion of All Out of the Classroom Teachers and if I have my way, there will be a statue in her honor built in the atrium of her school upon her retirement. So, I know friends, I know those amazing out of the classroom types exist and to them I blow many kisses and beg them to understand - I'm NOT talking about you.

I'm talking about the out of the classroom teachers who seemed to only have three scheduled classes each day, despite having six available blocks in their schedule. I mean, there were days that Mr. Big White Guitar didn't actually start "teaching" until after lunch. AFTER LUNCH. Yeah, the dude who was on the same salary scale as I was. What did he do all day? Well, besides arrive at the same time as the children, I have no idea. In all fairness, there were days that he was pulled from his regular classes to sub around the building, which I think would totally suck. Totally not his fault and exactly what this article is talking about. However, all those other days? NOT A CLUE, PEOPLE. Don't even get me started about the time he called me "prep hungry" when I complained about losing a prep and his refusal to make it up at a later time during the day which was totally free.

Then we had other out of the classroom people such as the Fanny Pack, who always seemed to manage to show up to my room to "push in" 10-15 minutes late. Despite the fact that she was coming from a class RIGHT DOWN THE HALL. Then she routinely sat in the back, drank water out of a paper cup (which she threw on the floor), and then in a very outdoor voice, called children, who she may or may not supposed to be working with, to come see her. Why was she late? What did she do back there besides litter? NO IDEA.

What are these people doing with all their time? I'm thinking nothing.

However, I would argue that the article left some important figures out of the whole "how teachers spend their time" part. (Maybe, like, all that, like, super hard math, like, was done by a woman, 'cuz, like, you know, math is harder for them? And so they did as well as they could?) (Please tell me you got this hilarious reference to yesterday's post / recent news travesty.)

I mean, let's be honest here. How much time do we spend doing paperwork? Are you with me on this one? I know that some paperwork is essential and totally comes with the territory. However, I also know that approximately 30% of my paperwork fell into that category. (How's that for some math from a woman? IN YOUR FACE, STUDY!) The rest of my paperwork fell into several other worthless categories such as:

* Paper I Have To Give To Someone To File So It Looks Like They Are Doing Something
* Graphs I Have To Make Because Of Course Testing Data Has To Be Displayed In Five Forms And In Triplicate
* Papers I Have To Fill Out So Someone Else Can Cover Their Behind
* Just Dumb

How come all of that time is not being factored into the report? I mean, if they really want to delve into the idea of how much time teachers are spending NOT TEACHING because of other assigned tasks, duties and meetings, then I have a whole can of worms right here. And it's just begging to be opened.

3 comments:

Theresa Milstein said...

At my last school, there were specialists that seemed to work nearly every minute of the day, between testing, one-on-one in their rooms, paperwork, and working in other teacher's rooms for a period.

Then there were the one, who always seemed to be chatting with someone in the hallway. Or in the teacher's room. And the other specialists would go nuts because his IEPs were never ready on time. It's frustrating and unfair.

institutrice said...

Sounds like Mr. Big White Guitar is MusicMan's long-lost twin. He's always five minutes late. (The kids make comments now, oops.) Last year when he had a room, I'd stand there for ten minutes while he finished his "lesson". (Karaoke, anyone?) He passed out his grades today and once again he wrote at the bottom of our class lists, "All 'superiors' for everyone in all areas." Really? I realize 500 students is a lot, but I've been a specialist, and it requires being organized on a whole other level from classroom teaching. (And if every other specialist is giving out thoughtful grades, why does he get to do that? It's just so wrong. And don't get me started on the fact that they no longer learn how to read music.)

I am right there with you wondering how these teachers get paid the same as Super Colleague-types do. (I better be careful, don't want the Union upset with me for ranting against another dues-paying member.) There's Dr. Glinda who doesn't show up to help with reading groups, or if she does, she goes on the computer (and my grade partner is freaking out that she'll be the one fired for surfing the 'net while she's supposed to be teaching). Then Sunshine Suzy the Title I teacher got upset a few years ago when her Special Ed counterpart created a plan to push in the K, 1 and 2 classes; she said she was so tired from "actually working" all day. (Apparently all the years she taught fifth grade, her grade partners wrote her lesson plans for her so she wouldn't get fired. She took a million classes so she could get to the end of the pay scale. She makes like 90 grand a year. Must be nice, eh?)

Just yesterday my principal asked me why we (I) didn't remake the research packet to go with a reading research lab the district just bought. I said, "... Because I didn't feel like doing it." She said, "Can't you work on it as a team?" I shrugged, and she dropped it.
Useless paperwork we have to do includes 120 grades on every report card - 4 times a year for 25 students. (We have to give a grade for each anchor in each subject.) It's a bit much. This includes benchmark testing that also gets written on a chart that we have to copy and turn in every marking period. Weekly reading tests are recorded in my grade book and then on a chart where I have to break it down by skill, vocabulary quiz and summary scores. Monthly math tests are recorded on their own sheet, too. And of all the forms we turn in, the only one we know gets looked at is the benchmark chart because the Admin in charge will print spreadsheets comparing the schools. (I still like her though. ;-) Save the trees!!!

Teacher Jen said...

It is frustrating to see people that don't seem to be held to the same standards as the classroom teacher. I would love to take the first month off of school to figure out my schedule and get things "organized", unfortunately that is time that I have to spend from my vacation. It would also be nice to take the first day or two after a month off to get things organized, or as we are told "get the students back into their routine." If they are getting into their routine doesn't that include their pull-out classes?

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