Sunday, April 01, 2007

7, Saturday Academy, and Sphere of Influence

That's how many new students, approximately thirteen percent of my current classload (always a gross term), have stumbled through my doors in the last ten schools days. Five in the last five alone.

And that's fine because new students are a way of life at our school -- case in point: our newcomer center (yes! we have a newcomer center! crazy!) has more than doubled in size since the fall. If I seem to get more than my fair share of transfer students, its only because I teach the seventh grade classes that function on a 3rd grade level, and that's about the point most kids stop learning in California. So new kids are fine, even bunched like this. What's not fine is the pitiful state of readiness they arrive in, not because of academics, which are bad enough, but in terms of getting here on time, carrying books, not losing everything, completing homework the rest of my class gets done more or less automatically. I'm ready for this battle toward student-hood in August; in March, the month I love because I start to teach grade-level standards for the first time, the whole thing makes my brain throw up on itself.

I wonder if the rest of the class sees this because I constantly want to point out the newly forged differences between themselves and these seven, want to jump and point and yell: "Look! Do you see? That was you: disorganized, unfocused, angry for no reason, late all the time. That was you and it isn't anymore, and you need to see this!"

  

It's Saturday Math Warrior time again, those idyllic days where CST 3s, high-2s and low-4s come in for supplemental, small group instruction on mathematics power standards. The kids wander in and give me the look, "You know how to teach math?"

"Yo. I can teach anything. Anything. Whaddaya wanna know? I'll teach it. I'll teach it right now. Let's go."

"Calm down, Mr. [TMAO]. I was just asking."

Except I didn't really know what I was teaching because I left without checking my box. I had called the Vice-POY and she told me I was teaching something, to somebody, paired with another teacher, but off the top of her head she couldn't remember what, to whom, or with whom. She's the Vice-POY partly because she went back to school to find out the answers to all those questions, but it got me thinking: What a tremendous reality show this would be!

Picture it: A bunch of teachers of various ages, ethnicities, specialities, and so forth, assembled for the right to call themselves... Top Teacher. Have the exceedingly perfect woman from Top Chef host, find an overly-decorated pad within busing distance from various LAUSD schools and randomly assign a different lesson topic/ age group/ school to the teachers every week. They get an hour to prepare, and then drop em in the room and watch the hilarity.

Instant success.

  

This summer I will be utilizing my free time working for these folks and these folks (which are more or less the same folks) in various leadership, equity-spreading capacities. For what that's worth.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Larry Strauss said...

...or assign each contestant to one of the hundreds of classrooms throughout LAUSD to which no teacher (aside from day to day subs) is assigned...

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh TMAO,

You can do better than those folks...

They aren't even "real" employees of the district their headhunting for. Funny what you find out when you (and about everyone else) has to resort to calling in the union just to get benefits, promised salary, and so on...

"They aren't 'real' OUSD employees. [Insert Name of HR Assistant Here], be sure to make a note... Tell those OCTC/OTF people to stop promising so much..."

(Actual quote from the head of HR during a meeting with the union rep)

If you still have the list of the people who attended the summer "institute" (or whatever they called that week), you might want to make some phone calls or email some of them. 1st, see how many of them are still in the district, and then ask the rest how happy they are with the OCTC/OTF, OUSD, or about anyone else they are affiliated with other than the shell-shocked staff at their own site.

Ugh... turned into a rant.

There must be a better way to spend your summer helping others than those organizations... (that was the point).

And yes, I'm still here. The few, the proud... the stubborn (and I love the kids, despite the circumstances in and under which I am forced to teach them).

-- Then again, like the above poster, you could begin a substitute retention program for the OUSD. We have the same problem. Teachers, Custodians, Security, Substitutes... The unstaffed fairy spread the love equally in Oak-town --

4:24 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Anon,

Your comment would be news to me. Care to elaborate? Were you in the program?

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Throw me an email address and I'll give you more specifics :)

But yes, I was a member. You throw a lot of balls and have a string of jalapeno lights... :)

12:38 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

teachingmyass [at] hotmail [dot] com

6:45 AM  

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