Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rage Against the Machine

In my quest to Be Positive In 2010 (Take Three), I have made an honest effort to choke down that horrible feeling I get when things start to get all kinds of jacked up and despite my weeks of planning and preparation are totally out of my control because the jacked up-ness of the situation is a direct result of other people who wait until the last minute to get involved and then their involvement is totally not thought out and totally contradictory to everything we are doing. You might be able to imagine this feeling when you picture yourself on your latest Field Trip. You know, the one you've been planning for weeks and have worked out to the last second because that's just how prepared you have to be when you leave the building with twenty (or more) friends whose behavior on that day could be a total question mark? The Field Trip for which you have coordinated busses, lunches, bathroom breaks, chaperones, etc? Yeah, that field trip. And then, the morning of said Field Trip, you get a phone call or last minute email telling you that someone forgot to order the busses, or the whole thing was really canceled weeks ago and no one told you, or the chaperones fail to show up and now you are wondering how legal it is to leave the building with a 20 to 1 ratio, or some other such nonsense that is really hard to deal with when twenty friends are lined up in their coats with wide excited eyes staring at YOU, ready to blame YOU, depending on YOU.

(Deep breaths.) (In and out.) (Must refresh coffee. Excuse me.)

So, by now you should know the feelings I'm talking about, yes? Okay, isn't it amazing how quickly they all come rushing back to you? I had a friend tell me a story about a semi-botched field trip and it was like it all slapped me in the face. WHAM! I was outraged (for her, of course)! I was irritated (for her, of course)! I was incredulous (just kind of in general)!

Over the last few weeks (read: desperate attempts to post every day which I think I might try to continue into February although you didn't read that here), I have posted a few responses to articles about Attempts To Improve Our Schools. (Let's see....here, and here for example.) I know I am reducing the situation a little bit, but if involving individuals outside of the classroom + not consulting with teachers first = a jacked up FIELD TRIP (and above mentioned feelings of rage on the part of teachers everywhere), exactly how are we expecting this formula to fix our nation's schools? I'm just saying...

Natch, we need many voices. Some of which are not in the classroom, (Although if you want my honest opinion - a.k.a. me shooting my mouth off with little thought - those outside of the classroom voices should be very quiet. Hushed tones if you will.) and many voices that ARE or HAVE BEEN in the classroom.

(Cut to me dragging out my dusty soap box from the closet.)

Ahem! Anyone else care to join me up here?

14 comments:

halpey1 said...

This made me smile... coming from second grade I am SO with you... with my recent move to kindergarten, it's a different ballgame. Parents just don't know what to do for me. My first few trips I didn't allow them (we walked, it's was simple...) and then when I finally said, OK, calling all parents!" I got TEN, yes ten chaperones for a whopping 2 to 1 ratio. I didn't even have any kids assigned to myself - it was a pleasure.

KT said...

I love reading your blog and really enjoyed your book. I am also working on my doctorate and I would be interested to know what your dissertation is on, how you decided what to focus on etc.

Katie

Stu said...

This morning I have been working on a blog entry of my own on a similar topic. I mentioned:

...politicians who have too much power over public education and too little understanding of what education is,

ignorant newspeople,

US Secretaries of education who have no education credentials (the last two, for example).

Our voices have to be heard. We are the ones who are in the classrooms every day. We know our students. We know the problems that they bring from home. We know the lack of resources we have access to. We know the disorganization of those outside of the classroom which sabotages the plans we've made. We're the ones there every day.

Excuse me for saying this, but you, Mr/Ms Congressperson/Governor/Mayor don't have a clue. You don't know about education simply because you went to school.

And you, Mr/Ms Business executive who gets a 6 figure BONUS (with no decimal points) every year, have no idea what it's like to walk into a classroom of hungry, stressed, lonely, homeless, sick, tired or all of the above children.

We do...we live with them. We give them the stability they need and the love they crave.

Yep...we need voices and our voices have to be the loudest and strongest.

Laura said...

Speaking of school improvement, my school district thinks (wow, I could stop right there for a belly laugh break) perhaps all the problems of the world will be solved by a longer instructional day. What are most school hours? What are the teachers required "on the clock" times? We would be "on" from 7:30 AM to 4:00, with kid day being 8:45 to 3:15.

Clix said...

This is why it isn't a misspelling to call it a FAIL TRIP. ;p

institutrice said...

Wow! That was unexpected. Great connection!
I have always said the same thing: People who don't work in education have no business telling us what to do. Have you ever read The Blueberry Story? I got it as an email years ago (when email first came out ;-) but now it's up as a website. I think it's true. Even if it's not, it's a great allegory for why schools CAN'T be run like businesses.

Tracey said...

INCOMPETENCE DRIVES ME NUTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stu said...

In our school system elementary students' hours are 8:15 to 2:30. Teachers' official hours are 7:30-3:15.

peace in the classroom said...

This so brought me back to a field trip years back. My chaperones didn't show up and I ended up taking 24 first graders on the subway to the museum by myself. I think we went as a grade so I borrowed someone else's chaperone for the whole getting everyone through the subway doors bit and for the bathroom visits. We all survived and had a good time somehow. On a side note, has anyone else had problems with the subway conductors? They always try to close the doors too soon when they can see that we are clearly loading children onto a single car for a reason. I always have one chaperone holding back the door while I load the children. I yelled at one of the conductors once for shutting the door on a child. It really hurts when those doors close on you!!

Laura said...

Teacher hours (when we don't have extra meetings) are 8:30 - 4:15. Students come from 8:40-3:45.

SB said...

what amazes me most, is I am a teacher in Canada, and everything you write about with all the crazy curriculum expectations, data collection, field-trip foibles, etc., all happen in our education too! oh and everyone outside the system thinks they know what's best inside the system too...amazing.

Kelly said...

Oh man, field trips. We have somehow avoided a field trip the past 2 years. Yay! Pretty soon the parents or the kids are going to rebel, but until then...

Lea said...

I think everyone who works in education...principals, curriculum coordinators, superintendents...should have to spend at least 1 out of every 5 years in the classroom. Things change quickly and unless you're in the classroom, you don't know or you have forgotten what it's like and what we have to deal with on a daily basis. I also think that anyone who has anything to do with mandating testing should have to take the test and post their scores in the paper and online. I would LOVE for the general public to have to take the math section of the California CST at 5th or 6th grade or the high school exit exam and see if they still complain about how easy kids today have it and when they were a kid they were doing much harder work. Yeah, right. The math they were doing when they were in 8th grade is now what 5th graders are doing and without the benefit of 3 years of brain development.

I could go on, but it IS Ms. Mimi's (color-coordinated and somehow high-heeled)soapbox, so I'll give it back now. :-)

SB said...

hello mimi -- you may not know me, but i am SB from nottooseriousihope@blogspot.com. I read your posts everyday and as a result am awarding you the Kreative Blog award. You can find it at the URL above. Thanks for having such passion for the teaching profession!

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