Saturday, October 23, 2010

this....really is how our meetings go

I remember an innocent time, a time when collaborative planning meant you take one or two days out of your week during prep (because it was possible, since copies could be made the day of, in the morning), and you spoke to your colleagues about students that were having trouble (because you had them all (though this was middle school) and you brainstormed together how to get things done; that you didn't need to have an administrator around with you as your team planned; that you could ask the science teacher to work with you on some writing assignments and help support the theme you were exploring; when it wasn't about challenges and support and process, it was about a warm, if not sometimes frustrated, feeling towards each other, knowing that stuff would get done.

Going to the AP training a couple Fridays ago (I'm teaching AP English as well as Read 180) was a revelation, and broke me out of the rut of process. I suddenly remembered what studying was like in college, and was over-joyed to talk with my teachers from our school, as well as some other teachers, about the AP test and follow the instructor's directions toward examining the questions and figuring out how to answer and understand them. It was refreshing. This, however, is not. It makes me sad to be faced with this reality, but the question here is not, "Well, I'm trapped, so I might as well eat dirt, cause that's what they're feeding me" rather, "OK, I know the the hell do I get the support I need from an administration that will only criticize? How do I work the system?"

Either way, shit's really annoying...take a peek:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

so, i understand...

that I haven't posted in, what, a month, possibly two. I also understand that much's been left out here. Needless to say, the wonderful feeling I had a while back has subsided, and I'm dealing with some organizational crises here. So this is a shout-out to all my teacher peeps out there: I'm looking for a system. How do you all keep your stuff together? Do you have things in drawers, in files, in folders, strewn about on your desk? How do you all keep it together? I'm strapped for ideas, and I'm struggling to pull it all together.

Plus, this TAS business is going to drive me up the wall. Have you all been up to date on this business? For those who don't know, TAS means Teacher Assessment Something-or-Other. Basically, the school AND each department comes up with certain goals with which their success will be measured. Now, this seems like a fine and great idea, but in some cases, the percentages work out such that, if you were to hit only one percent below your goal, you will get a 1 on your rating. Strictly speaking, that is an unfair technicality. I mean, to say the least. Whatever. It's harder on the English (myself) and the Math (not myself) teachers, because A LOT of their success is riding on DC CAS and other factors like PSATS, interim tests, and other such stuff. Their stake is much, much, much higher.

To make it even more complicated, the SCHOOL's TAS goals are even more ridiculous, and they are linked to the "commitment to school community" section of the IMPACT score. Because they design those goals, they're practically unattainable, and therefore restrict most of the teachers in the school from ever receiving a four. It makes my blood boil, but I like to keep my head down low. So, needless to say things're reaaaally not getting better this year. Or, at least, are posing different, if no less difficult, challenges.

Speaking of challenges and IMPACT, Michelle Rhee just resigned!! HOLY SHIT. More on that as news breaks and things go ASPLODE!!! inside this whole DCPS system. Everybody ready? aaaaaand, ASPLODE!