Saturday, September 5, 2015

Teacher Talk

As I've touched on before, it's been a very busy and frustrating start of the school year.  Between several new-this-year programs we've had to implement without the needed materials and a school constantly under construction (which means things aren't working or are breaking or people are in the way and THE NOISE) my team and I are pretty much at our limit with things going wrong this year.  There is a sense of urgency in the classroom, and there always has been for teachers, but due to new standards and testing the urgency isn't just coming from within ourselves but many outside forces.  The frustrating part is that many of those we work with on a regular basis outside of the classroom don't have that same sense of urgency. Instead of our support systems catering to us and our needs in the classroom (ya know, the reason why we have school) the teachers and the kids are left to make it work when someone else drops the ball.  And dropping the ball seems to be the theme of this year's school year.  It's been challenging to say the least.
Yesterday, my grade level team and I walked across the street to grab a bite of lunch before starting our regular Friday afternoon meeting.  The frustrations of this new year came to a head and lunch simply turned into a bitch session.  We complained and lamented about everything.  It is hard to be around a lot of negativity so we try not to have bitch sessions very often, but venting was necessary.  And that we did.
After lunch, we cleaned up and headed back outside.  That was when we were stopped by a man who walked outside at the same time.  He said that he had been sitting across from us at lunch and couldn't help but overhear our conversation.  All four of us admitted later that we were worried he was going to tell us to we were a little too tightly wound and needed to take it down a notch and stop complaining.  But he didn't.  He said he appreciated hearing our compassion and concern for the kids and wanted to thank us.  We all breathed a collective sigh of relief that he wasn't there to reprimand us and expressed our appreciation.
And we were appreciative.  There seem to be ebbs and flows with teacher bashing, and with the 2016 presidential election approaching (ugh!) the rhetoric about how greedy and awful teachers are has been flowing.  After feeling unsupported by those who are supposed to support us early in the new year, this man's words were so meaningful.
This has been making the rounds among the teacher set.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this clip (which I in turn have now shared)!

    I'm sorry the year is getting off to such a rough start. Hopefully things will improve as time goes on (can it?). And hey, we all need those bitch sessions at times.

    1. Oh good, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's so interesting to me about how vicious "people" can be about teachers, but I don't actually know anyone who feels that way in real life. It's gotten to the point that I can't read an article that has teaching as the subject matter because I get so bothered by the bashing of the profession in the comments or hearing our politicians speak poorly of it. So I'm always a little leery posting something about teachers as a group.
      Things are fine. We have a lot to complain about right now both locally and in the big picture, but once inside those four walls that's not important anymore (especially now that the AC has been fixed in my room :).

  2. You really need a much stronger union. And they really need good PR. You are an easy target. And when the people controlling you send their kids to private schools you are doubly caught.
    Plus the objectives are blurred, and those that aren't are utterly fixed and therefore unrealistic.
    How for instance do you measure the achievement of actually getting to school.

    1. Depending on who you talk to, some say the unions are TOO strong. If that is truly the case, it's too strong for the wrong things.
      There was a period of time that I really believed our new Common Core standards were going to be a positive change for education - the kind of teaching we were going to be allowed to do was different than teaching to the test. That was very naive of me. If the union were going to take on an issue, that's the biggest one of all. And the worse it all seems to be getting, I'm not really sure why that's not happening. The local chapters can't really do much about the testing/requirements because it's not a district who is mandating the testing but the state/fed govt. The district can decide what to do with those mandates, but when funding is on the line, I'll give you one guess the route they take. So it does need to happen on a state and national level. The thing that I think often happens though, is any time a large group of teachers "complain" a lot of people think it's because we don't want to work and we don't want to have high expectations for our kids. When that couldn't be further from the truth for most of us.
      But to be honest with you, the education system is a byproduct of everything else we do in this country that doesn't work. Most of the time our kids lack of learning has very little to do with the teacher, it's everything else kids have to deal with (poverty, hunger, abuse, lack of parent support, lack of parent expectations). Until any of that is dealt with, no matter what we do in the schools isn't going to fix the education problem. But more testing certainly isn't either.

    2. If, as seems to be the case that the funders are running down the service it's very much in the interest of the unions. Otherwise they are basically writing a prolonged suicide note. But is it policy to move education to the private sector.
      I know here the spin is that we have the best education, but in truth that's only for some. Like health.

    3. Oh, yes, I do believe there are people who'd LOVE to capitalize on education and I think that's the quandary we are in right now. Our US Sec of Ed is a HUGE proponent for charter schools (the research shows that most charter schools are not doing any better than "regular" public schools and they get to hand pick their kids, which says something). Anyhow, there are big businesses waiting in the wings to swoop in and oversee the recent charter school influx. These business are requiring teachers to work without unions. The Walmart corp is one such business.
      My district has been involved in a legal battle with a "charter" school that is being run by a business that didn't follow the rules for chartering and hand picked their kids from across the valley - taking no one with a "brown" last name.
      Now, does our union want to be part of this? I don't believe so, it's not in their best interest to have all of us no longer unionized. But again, I don't hear too much about their fight against that either. So who knows who is in cahoots with who, and who is lobbying for and against what.
      In my opinion, education AND health care shouldn't be a money maker. When $$ are involved, education and health are no longer the priority. The bottom line is.
      The best education there is private/paid for by the families who attend? Or is it offered to all? Is the "only for some" due to the areas where the schools are or because not all can attend the best schools?


  3. I am sad to hear the horrible start to the school year you are having and I am constantly disappointed my how under appreciated teachers are.. kudos to the man and his support.

  4. Doesn't it feel great to be appreciated?