Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Time slips through my fingers like fine grains of sand...

I never have enough time.  As an educator, we are all asked to do a million and one things each day.  I know that somewhere, buried in my contract, it states I am entitled to one prep period a day, and one liaison period.  Special educators have more than one role in the building.  We teach, and we are responsible for the IEP management of our students.  This means meetings, letters, legal paperwork, progress reports, communication with teachers, parents, and care providers.  As the teacher and coordinator of a substantially separate classroom, I have a number of roles and responsibilities.  Until this year, I had zero scheduled prep time.  This year, I have 30 minutes four times a week.  30 minutes of time to plan for ELA, geometry, writing, history, MCAS math prep, copying, writing lessons, all the while being asked to solve problems, intervene in crises, keep up to date with the behavior plans and data, distribute reports, grade papers, and the list goes on.  When I express my need for prep time to my supervisor, I am told 30 minutes is 30 more than she gets.  I feel she should advocate for herself more strongly if she wished to have more prep time.  That is what I did in order to get these 30 minutes.  And contractually, I'm allotted two 45 minute periods.  I get guilt trips when I request what has been written into our contracts, and I don't like feeling that way.  Why should it be that our building culture is one of self-sacrifice?  Having a set prep time should not be a luxury or a silly thing to ask for.  I was also told that special educators often don't receive prep at all, despite having more roles than the regular education teachers.  Why is that?  It seems counter-intuitive. 

What ways do other administrators make sure their staff has the time they need?

Monday, September 19, 2011

In Response to What Parents Really Want to Tell Teachers: What You Do Hurts Our Children

I have read Ron Clark's article What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents as well as Laurie A. Couture's article What Parents Really Want to Tell Teachers.  While Clark's article has a number of points I could disagree with, Couture's left me physically upset. 

Couture wants us to believe that teachers, excuse me, pawns are responsible for things such as You deny our children their right to use the toilet when needed, causing them intense pain and desperation and putting them at risk for urinary and gastrointestinal dysfunction and damage. You deny them hydration, causing them to dehydrate and putting them at risk for headaches, mental fog, lethargy and medical problems. 

She goes on to say educators are responsible for medicating children rather than deal with their normal childhood behaviors.  Educators take the joy out of everything we give them to do.  Educators also are blamed for stealing children from their families during the best years of their lives.  Couture states that " You treat our children without respect, empathy, compassion or love unless they behave according to your rules and expectations. You seem oblivious to their pain, vulnerability and distress." Also, "Children processed by your system have no time to make up all of the living they missed from preschool through high school graduation. From there on, unless they find themselves, they will have a life of perpetual work and consumption until they die."

Now, I feel strongly about the need for systemic change in education.  Strongly enough to live each day making all the changes in my power.  I have it tattooed on my arm! Be the change you want to see in the world!  I teach my students how to be powerful individuals, and use their voices so they are heard, just as I hope to be heard when I feel something needs to be different.  I teach my students that generalizations, bashing, and all-emotion-no-data rants are useless if one wants to send an idea home. 

I read a number of blogs to stay current, and I find it interesting to see how others think and feel.  If I read something I disagree with, I try to see it from their perspective and reflect on how it makes me feel. Sometimes what I read changes my views, other times it only strengthens my resolve.  I know something is well put when it makes me really challenge my beliefs.

Couture's article evoked strong feelings in me.  I felt disrespected. I did not feel inspired or motivated, I felt angered.  I saw many readers claim the need to unsubscribe due to the emotions they felt after reading.  I can relate, but I feel the need to read and understand even those I strongly disagree with.  In case there becomes a movement as extreme as this post, I want to be well prepared for what I'd be up against.  Keep your enemies closer!

I enjoy reading the thoughts of others and will continue to do so, even when the material is hard for me to swallow.  I want my students to be able to read a challenging text, form their opinions, then share them in such a way that they'll be heard.