I was listening to the replay of today's Mark Steiner show. He was interviewing a superintendent of schools, formerly of Baltimore County, and a Harvard Education professor named Howard Gardner. He's the guy who discovered/studied multiple intelligences.
They were discussing Lt. Governor Steele's new proposal for improving schools in Maryland. I've only skimmed the report, so I can't really discuss it with any sort of depth yet. One thing I'll say is that if I ever work in a school system in which a Physics teacher makes more than me just because s/he is a Physics teacher, then I'll leave. That's one reason that my considerations of Detroit City Public Schools have never come any farther to fruition. My buddy was an English Major/Math minor, and he decided to get hired as a Math teacher because they get paid more. I just think this is so inherently wrong. Teaching isn't a job like a widget factory. There is no more value to a Physics teacher than an English teacher. And Physics teachers certainly don't do more work, especially at my school. I've got 170 students and have to grade all of them. Physics teachers have 70-75 students and get to grade on an objective basis. No way I'd tolerate not getting paid as much.
Anyhow, they were talking so intelligently about so many issues that I face everyday, but don't really get separated enough from my job to notice.
1. Mentoring new teachers. I want desperately to help the new teacher, to sit down with her and plan units and lessons, but I just can't. She comes to me for help, and I do my best, but I'm drowning in work right now. I haven't turned back all the essays yet I got from my kids last week. Grading is a neverending struggle. My department head made me an official mentor of someone in my third year of teaching, but I never really felt like I was. There's just so much work. So much. I can't do things halfway.
2. Feeling like a professional. No, I don't feel like I make as much money as I deserve. But, you know what? I didn't go into teaching for the money. I'll gladly accept whatever raise is afforded to me, but I'd do the job for less than I make now. I do think that if being a teacher were as valued as, say, a doctor, we'd see a lot more great teachers. But I'm sure we'd see the same amount of mediocre ones, too. What would make me feel like a professional is more time. More time during my school day to step back, reflect, plan, and grade. More time during professional days to do the same. We have our first professional day as a city on Friday. In past years, we've been given some autonomy on this day. We've also done things that I've felt are useful, like vertical team planning and horizontal team planning. However, I've heard that I am to expect a day long of meetings conducted by our principal on Friday. I hate to go into this thing with a negative attitude, but it's already there. He's done a good job so far with the school for the most part, but he goes on and on and on when he talks. And I'm quite sure that little of value will come from the meetings. Having that time to do the work I need to do would be treating me like a professional. So would reimbursing me the $400 back that the school system owes me from June.
3. The idea of standardized curriculum across the nation. This thought puts immediate worry in my mind. I mean, we live in a nation where our President has said it is just fine to teach Intelligent Design - a theory with no scientific merit - in Science classes. If people can invent their own truths like this, who knows, maybe we'll have one school system decide that teaching that the Holocaust didn't exist is okay. Or that the world is flat.
But when you get beyond the initial scare, though, you realize that a set of national standards and skills seems to be appropriate. I'm talking big tracks of learning per grade level and subject area, and then local control over how those tracks are pursued.
Anyhow, all this makes me wish that I was in school right now. I sometimes wish I could relive my senior year of college with the info that I have now, because, damn, all this educational theory stuff would be way useful now that I'm out in the real world a bit.
What price decency - No good deed dept: Antomar Jones convicted of killing his youth program mentor Corey Taylor while robbing him* Henry Estrella-Cordova of Ecuador was arrest...
23 minutes ago