28 August 2007

Mom Always Said

This morning, I actually heard a teacher say that the district should implement certain things because it makes common sense in the way her mother described. I managed to avoid a John McEnroe style of meltdown and dramatically claim "You cannot be serious!" Federal requirements mandate (I know that's a dirty word) that the things schools implement have a research base. Somehow, "My momma told me." doesn't quite fit that description.

Other teachers joined in with this rallying cry. "We already know what's best." You know what? I agree with that---to a point. No one knows the students sitting in a classroom better than the teacher. The teacher makes hundreds of decisions each day about how to respond to the needs of the kiddos. Here is where the argument breaks down: not a single teacher making that claim today can also state that all of his or her kids perform at standard. Yes, I understand that learning is incumbent upon the student with the teacher as facilitator---but I can tell you that alone will not explain the deficiencies at that school.

There was a slow burn from the staff to Curriculum. One complaint was that they weren't provided time on the optional curriculum-directed day to collaborate with people in the department of their school. I so wanted to ask this woman, "What part of 'optional' and/or 'curriculum directed' aren't you getting?" She doesn't have to go. She and others are welcome to use that time in other ways. I somehow managed to stifle a laugh when teachers at this school went off about how Curriculum never visits them. Hello? This is the one school in the district whose principal excused the staff from attending every district meeting last year...the one where consistent offers went out for support and were met with "We're fine, thanks."

There were continued comments about how math and science graduation requirements (also blamed on Curriculum) were impeding learning. How selfish is that? Children are held accountable for those standards. We may not like the laws, but you know, we already have our diplomas. The kids do not. Why would any teacher blame other teachers for the fact kids have to take more math and science?

My overall impression today (formed among the 8 additional PowerPoints to yesterday's 9) is that many of the teachers at that school think very small...and are very selfish. I can't deny that my time out of the classroom that has coloured my vision. I tend to look at things in a much more global way these days...and I admit that gives me a bit of an attitude about things. But these experiences make me want to shake some teachers until they rattle. "Wake up! What happens in the classroom is not about you. It's about kids. Every kid...every day. It's okay not to know all of the answers---nobody does. But to claim you do based on the sole observations and experiences behind your classroom door while allowing some kids to fail does not impress anyone."

Then again, maybe their mothers are proud.


Mimi said...

I hear what you are saying. I am a doctoral student as well (so maybe I'm biased) but I think that teachers need to back their ideas up by a little more than "my momma said" or "I just know". I think experience counts for A LOT but to fully claim that you know something, I think you need to really study it from a variety of angles.

I think I'm rambling. Maybe it was the wine. :)

The Science Goddess said...

Pour me one, wouldja?

FYI, your next linking lesson is going to be on how to insert a hotlink into a comment. LOL

What are you getting your doctorate in? And from where (if you feel okay revealing that)?

Dr. Mimi. I like it.