Friday, March 28, 2014

Angry and Unproductive Blog

I wrote this last Saturday morning and was not sure if I wanted to post it since as I warn in the next paragraph, I was speaking out of a rush of anger that came up in me. As, I read over it, I decided I should share… So, here it is. I will post a more productive and useful blog this weekend. I already failed posting twice in February. I will make up for it. I have three days left, and I will add a couple more blogs in that time.

Warning: This blog is angry. I will also preempt this with saying I do not classify all parents like this, but I do feel a need to address the loud ones that ARE classifying all teachers and are willing to cruelly insult and  discredit an entire school family on the grounds of exceptions. We do get praise, but unfortunately it is not nearly as loud and as obnoxious as the insults and complaint. I address the parents and media that do not get addressed anymore because everyone knows they tend to not know how to listen or are just in it for big head liners. I do not know if this means anything to those parents and their consciences, but it makes teachers like me, new and close to burn out as it is , want to walk away.

As I was doing my laundry today (very excited I might add since I’ve got myself a PILE”, I had overwhelming sweeps of desire to finish my list of things to do between today and tomorrow:  finish laundry, organize my lesson plans ( 5 preps for dare I say it, only four days this week), finish creating my Pre-Algebra Understanding by Design (UbD) unit, complete my paperwork for finding my birth family, help my foreign exchange daughter dress up her prom dress, make bread, make a couple videos for my flipped classroom,  make my grandma’s birthday present (I am making a pop-up card stationary set for her that a colleague showed me how to do:) , sweep and clean the floors that are covered in spring dog prints, and complete the transfer of files and programs to my Mac that I will start to use this week.   I also will take some time to do my hobby of cooking and sitting down to a nice dinner with my family. On top of this list running through my mind as I was folding shirts, I also had waves of anger that started taking hold. I did not attend, but I heard that a small crowd of parents who came to the most recent school board meeting began using insults and criticism towards the teachers at our school in order to make arguments against a 4-day week that was not even the topic of the agenda.  I realize this may be a small group, but I am tired of the ignorant voices being the ones that are the loudest. I wanted to respond to a couple of comments that just drove me nuts.

A comment that all we do at school is watch movies and a four-day week of longer days would just be more time for children to watch movies. I will not even respond to this because that is just a really stupid comment. Don’t even waste my time with gross untruths, but if you are saying we provide a study hall…

For those of you that dare to criticize a teacher having a day where the students are given a study hall because the teacher felt he/she could afford to give that to the students. Heaven knows the students get behind, and heaven knows we, teachers, also could use the period to catch up on grading and planning. I tell you it may happen once in a while that life beyond school does happen once a teacher goes home. Do parents forget that? Do they think it is okay for a teacher to go home and do things for his or her family? For me, EVERY DAY there is a list of things that need to get done for school. Some days, that list does get put aside because I have promised my family I will do something fun with them, rather than hole myself up in my room and work on school for the night like I do pretty much every night. Some days at school will be catch up days.

A comment that anyone can teach. Also not true.

For those of you that dare say “anyone can teach”, I will only quote my friend’s response that “anyone can become a parent.” All children are brought before us. We also become parents, and I will tell you, we do a better job than some of you. Yet, you do not see us walking into your domain pointing out your weaknesses in an I-know-all, arrogant manner. There are a lot of home issues these students are bringing into the school, and there are a lot of changes the school is attempting to do to try to reform education so we are creating innovative, critical thinking, competitive students, so please!!! stop acting like there is a quick fix for all of this.

I would love to have discussion with parents who are willing to talk about ideas for lessons and integrating real world experiences into my math classes. Please, come collaborate with me in building lessons, rather than building extravagant headliners that do nothing productive in your “quest for better education” if that is indeed your quest. Please do not fool yourself in thinking anyone can teach.

I know I am a good teacher. I work hard for it. That does not mean I deliver perfect lessons, am always on top of it, or know exactly how to fix the things that are going wrong in my classroom. In fact, I end up questioning every lesson I give because there are always these contradicting desires:

I want to create more structure and scaffolding to bring all students into the same playing/learning field, but I want students to have the ability to be creative and innovative.  I want them to face challenges where they go beyond the structure and expectations I hold.

 I want students to have the math skills concretely down and I want them to adopt my algorithms and my logic, but I also want them to be creative and form methods that work for them.

 I want to teach them perfectly, but I would rather they are able to teach me.

I want my students to THINK , not about a grade, but about expansion of knowledge and creation and productivity that follows from knowledge.
I want them to dive deep into exploring the patterns, processes, connections, and possibilities of my subject, but I have 45 minutes in a day, and students have sports, activities, and jobs that they are too tired for homework.

I am always trying to find the perfect lessons that will meet these things and it haunts my mind constantly when I wish it would not- not to mention I also have some very low motivated students that always haunt me.  I go to bed late, and I wake up early to do my work. My husband actually expects not seeing me very much during the school year. We try to establish a date night weekly so that at least one night a week we can spend time with each other, no distractions and no work. This does not always happen, and you can bet as I sit at a movie, I am dreading the fact that I could have corrected so many papers or created this/that activity in that amount of time.

As you read this, you may think this teacher is crazy. I am. I am crazy about trying to be the best teacher I can be.  I am a bit more crazy in the amount of time I section off for dedicating myself to this goal. I am well aware that I pay and my family pays dearly for this, but I am not alone. I work with another family, of teachers, who most I admire and I am so glad to teach among. Sometimes we will just stare at each other and ask why are we doing this. For those of you that dare say we are not trying at our school, I dare you to find someone to replace us since anyone can teach. I dare you to instead of complain about us not helping to grow and better your children, to be PRODUCTIVE and contribute ideas of lessons that will be helpful. I dare you to try to step down from the high podium you hold yourself on in knowing what it is like to teach. I dare you to contribute and be productive in helping to build up a school that teaches worthy knowledge and truth.

It has been 45 minutes of typing this venting letter.  I will spend no more time on it because I need to go be productive….

mumble… was it worth trying to address those that do not listen?


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