Sunday, November 28, 2010

back to the grindhouse

Tomorrow's school again, and I'm wondering whether or not I'm dreading anything. Not particularly. I think the biggest thing is that I have to create some semblance of a final exam based solely on what the DC CAS looks like/is. Basically, I am taking a DC CAS specifically tailored to main idea, details, sequencing, and literary elements, and making that the test. I hate the CAS, think it's boring an not useful. But most of all, I hate having to make my reading class, which is FULL of ELL students that shouldn't really be there in the first place, some form of differentiated instruction of CAS questions. What a buncha bull.

So, my question: do I do what my supervisor wants me to do? Make a bunch of these stupid differentiated questions, or just go about my business with what's already done? I suppose I'm going to have to, because I'm the "lead teacher" of Read 180. So many people in my school try and for the most part succeed in getting away with not submitting things to admin, not doing things that admin asks them to do. I'm trying not to do that so that I can not be a silly teenage rebellion type, and assume my responsibilities. But the temptation is so great, and it seems that so many people get away with it.

Either way, back to DC CAS support class, I mean, Read 180.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

getting angry

See, I have a friend--a good friend--one who's been with me since last year--one who's candid and open and unendingly opinionated--one who makes mistakes like the best of us and will own up to them--one who believes that the only way to make things happen, to really make things change, is to get angry. And he's angry at the school. So, he tries to encourage his students to make change by making them angry enough that they want it. Or, at least the smart kids, he says. He says that what he's trying to do is get the kids to break out of the lie that they've been fed by the administrative body. He does this, and he also puts his race out there by playing the role of "white oppressor." He does it in order to get the kids angry, not necessarily at him, but at certain injustices that "he" is the cause of. His goal is anger. And he achieves it.

I've had a lot of conversation about this lately, and I've come to some conclusions about it. See, whenever he tells me about this stuff--and he confronted me about this, saying that I tend to question his motives a lot, looking at him strangely and not saying anything--it makes me unendingly uncomfortable. And, through conversations with friends, I've realized why:

Most of this discomfort with his style is that I feel that he is playing a part, and tends to manipulate his students into believing in his agenda, however socially just it may be. In a way, another friend said to me, it is "inception." But, the most important thing here is that he is trying to get students angry in order to recognize injustice in the world. His is not a problem of action, rather, or recognition. My thing is not necessarily recognition, rather, action. I want students to have recognized and researched and become passionate about a problem in society, and then change it. I'm about empowerment and action, he's about empowerment in recognition. He is the yang to my yin.

So what does this mean in terms of my own teaching? I want kids to recognize things, but it's never on my official agenda because that's not what I'm teaching, and I don't always have the opportunities to do it. I can't quite put my race out there because there's not much to be provocative about in Read 180, unfortunately. All content is a means to an end goal: being able to read well. I guess I need to find some sort of yang to complete my yin in my community service club...what does it take to recognize a problem in the world?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

is it me, or is it them?

I think one of the things, personally, that I do when it comes to my job is take things personally. Not on the kids side, rather, the things that they say are either funny, ridiculous or annoying (See side note: today in new MS class, I have regained some ground by, instead of high fiving a student, giving him a high elbow--again, what I love about MS is the pure willingness they have to do simple, silly things). This whole switch to MS thing, how can I not take this personally, as if the admin has not much else to do than throw teachers on one place on a whim just simply because they can.

This is hard to swallow, but, it's not me, it's them. It's going to take me a very long time to realize's how the school operates: they make things shitty for teachers, because that's just how they think things should be run. They do it in the name of certain things (data, etc), and, perhaps they're right in some respects; but, I don't think I'll ever quite "win" because there's nothing to win. Maybe that's what I've been thinking about for such a long time. That there's a fight to win, that I can control what my job is. But it's not about that. It's about them being the boss, me being the employee.

It'll take some time, I suppose. Do I sound defeatist?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

well, here we go again

So, to compound the non-sense that happens in my school, I've been taken out of AP, and put into a MS class again, this time with the added bonus of not being the middle schooler's original teacher.

The full story (before I gotta go to bed): I was pulled out of AP so that the school could create another class of 10th grade Read 180. I was quite fine with that, seeing that having Read 180 be the number one class I have to do means that I would have a) a life outside of school and b) MUCH less work. Wunderbar. So what happened in the interim? I honestly can't tell you--I was told that I was going to be a sub for the MS R180 teacher, since he's sick. I was OK with that, since I thought the 10th grade class would take a bit of time to set up, and it was just a quick one-shot subbing thing. Turns out this is (most likely) going to become my permanent placement for first period. What's even crazier about this situation is that there is a substitute present in the classroom while I am in the classroom. So, the question begs to be asked: why am I actually in there?

According to the powers that be, they need someone who "knows the program inside and out" in the room and doing the Read 180 stuff, etc. Personally, the hell with it...if they have a sub, they have a sub. So, I tried to collaborate; tried to have a meeting about this, but there's no real talking to the administration once their minds have been arbitrarily made up.

So, my observation is tomorrow, and all I pray is that it is not in the middle school class that I cannot control because I just stepped in two days ago. This is the one thing I pray for, either third or fourth period.