18 May 2006

Short-timers' Syndrome

I admit that I had been dreading today for some time. This was my day to work with eighth grade teachers on their curriculum maps. During the last few years, eighth grade teachers have been the group I've struggled to engage with any of our district initiatives. I did have one along for the ride today---he brought a bit of grading to do while we started our meeting and had precious little insight to share along the way. But then, why should he buy in? He only has one more year and will then retire.

How do we get more teachers at the end of their careers to make a significant effort? It's not that I don't understand the temptation of staying in one's comfort zone...if there's a bunch of changes about to start happening around you and you only have one more year, why not just do what you've always done?

I (foolishly) hope that they'll take a long-range view from the standpoint of the kids. Not only are they held accountable for the information, but they deserve to have a rich experience.

Whose class would you rather be in: Mr. Nearly-Retired's who provides you with a report to write about a volcano or Mr. Other-Teacher's, who asks you to write a real estate ad "spinning" the info on an area with volcanic activity in order to get people to move there? Would you rather whip out the clay and make a representation of Mt. St. Helens---or would you prefer to use materials to model lava flow and make predictions?

We have a saying in Curriculum: "Students can do no better than the assignment they're given." I have a distinct feeling that kids in Mr. N-R's class are not only bored out of their minds, but haven't any high expectations to meet. Will I figure out how to change this next year? I hope so. Gotta try, anyway.

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