05 February 2005

Behind Closed Doors

In my district, students go home early on Thursdays so that teachers can have some "Common Planning Time." In principle, this is a great idea. With so many demands on schools these days to improve performance, shouldn't we have some time to get together and develop the game plan?

Sometimes, this really does work out. It depends on what the time has been allotted for that day. One problem, however, is that teachers are independent contractors. We are individually hired to teach a specific audience. Getting one another to "deprivatize practice" and collaborate is no small feat.

The other roadblock includes the unique individuals you find on any given school staff. Let's face it, some people are just weird. Some of these people are teaching your kids. Not all of them are bad teachers, but they are usually the ones most resistant to any sort of change in how the school operates. They are also well protected by the union, so nearly anything they do will not get them fired. Even inappropriate conduct with a student will only merit you a paid vacation while things are investigated.

At my school, we don't have anyone quite like the teacher (Susan Bartlett) described in this story. (Thanks to the anonymous donor for the link.) I'm relieved to think that I don't have a colleague who is likely to moon me at the next faculty meeting. There are just some things that I don't want to know about the people I work with.

Someday, I'll post about my own view of "No Child Left Behind." One of its requirements is for a "highly qualified teacher" to be in every classroom. This is not such a bad idea, although it is difficult to find good people. My last year in NM, the person who ran the self-contained classroom for children with severe behaviour disorders had previously worked at K-Mart. I'm not sure how one tied to the other, but my guess is that the principal was just desperate to have one willing adult in the room. This is how people like Ms. Bartlett get into classrooms.

For now, the Goddess needs to get back in bed. In case you were wondering, the surgery went well. Today, I feel like I've done 1000 situps, which is certainly not pleasant. Rest assured that I have some good drugs and will be continuing to improve.

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