We walked into school from the parking lot yesterday only to spot a local TV news van sitting across the street flagging down parents. They wanted to interview them asking what they thought of our failing school. Awesome. :(
I was part of a district-wide team who helped develop big ideas around our school's reform in order to write the grant that will be submitted to the state by the end of this week. It was an interesting process. We'll know by March 26 if we received the $$, how much, and start planning the intricate, detailed work.
Staff morale at our school is really low right now. We're all trying to get through this the best we can. Our Supt. is going to have recommitment conferences and ask each teacher/staff member if they are willing to recommit to the work ahead. Many are on the fence b/c we honestly don't know what the exact plans are that we are recommitting to. There is talk of PD being held this summer and summer school for incoming 6th graders. Will I be expected to commit to teaching that? I sure hope not. I have taught summer school for several summers and it was not very fun and totally burned me out by the time school started up again in Sept. :(
I think that if we receive the grant $, it will help us make some changes that need to be made. What scares me is how much work will lie ahead for us teachers. So many of us at my school already work REALLY hard. I don't know how much harder I can work. I don't want to be a Debi Downer before it even begins, but at the same time, I hope they are not expecting us to live at our school.
Changes that will be happening:
*extending the learning day (not sure how I feel about this yet)
*new evaluation system for teachers
*possible incentives/rewards for teachers who raise test scores (I am completely against this for a NUMBER of reasons) I would rather get incentives for continually doing a good job vs. raising scores on ONE test
*We will definitely be losing our principal and getting a new one.
I think it's good the federal gov't and state gov't want to help reform our schools, but the ways they are going about it are just not the right steps to take. I wish they would have asked some teachers about this before jumping to conclusions b/c this reform really makes the teachers look bad and take the biggest part of the blame more than anyone else. And that is NOT right.
This morning alone, I had SEVEN kids in my 1st period class who did not come with a pencil. SEVEN. Is it my job to give them a damn pencil everyday? No, I do not think so, considering I have given out more pencils this year than ANY other year I have taught and I have less kids this year than I did last year. I have 3 kids who show up late to class every morning b/c they have to walk their sibling to school. Because no adult is home to do it. I have 20 kids in my class who eat free and reduced lunch. I have 10 kids who didn't eat dinner with their family last night b/c their parents are working two jobs or don't care if they are out running around late all hours of the night. I have THREE kids who read at a 5th grade level. I have FOUR kids who are SPED, including one who is EBD. TWO more of my students show up late everyday b/c their parents tell them they can stay home if they don't want to go to school. I have ONE student who's mom is in a psych ward b/c she's ill and she had to move in with her dad, after moving around to FIVE different schools in the past 2 years. I have another student who's brother was shot at point blank range last year at the bowling alley down the street. Four of the girls have siblings who have had babies at a young age and two of those four have siblings who dropped out of high school. Yet all 26 of my kids deserve the best education I can give them, despite their obstacles. I want them to succeed and be the BEST they can be. I tell them everyday that they too can and will go to college--that they HAVE to if they want to compete in our ever-changing world. Yet, alone, I am expected to ensure that all of these kids pass tests. No Matter What. No one has taken the time to notice the positive changes and emotional growth many of my kids have made because that can't always be measured.
My questions for our government officials include: What is the parent responsibility in this reform? What is the student's responsibility? B/c if it's only a one-way street of improvement, I guarantee the system is going to be broken for a long time.
On a very positive note, last Friday, I found out one of my former honors students who is a senior this year, was accepted into Harvard University. :) Harvard. She is going to become a doctor studying infectious diseases. :) Her parents are immigrants here in the U.S. and she is an amazing, beautiful, young and intelligent African woman. I am SO proud of her and I guarantee, this young lady is going to be famous for her work in the medical field. :)