Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Teachers You Hate Sitting Next To During All-District PD

Are writing this post and responding to it with a gushing all-caps enthusiasm that is generally reserved for the comment section of Tori Amos's myspace page. I can't even begin to explain the all-over grossness I felt while reading this. Suffice to say I'm not down with the sentiment expressed therein. While everyone is free to write from their point-of-view, I resent the attempt to speak for others, the universal prognosticating, and the unverified assertion that experiences like this are somehow part of the norm.

Generally, the flight of teachers concerns me, but if the teachers that leave schools are the ones who think it is not their job to motivate, not their job to convince, not their job to get their hands dirty, I got a couple of inches of Bushmills I'll raise in their honor, and applaud the decision to go sell insurance.

24 Comments:

Anonymous J.D. Williams said...

Wow. I'm tempted to post a comment on there asking what three friends of his made up all those accounts to comment on that one awful blog post. There is only one comment on there that I agree with, and I don't think I agree with any of the blog. Just wow..

1:45 PM  
Blogger Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

I'm sorry, but it appears you have comprehension issues.

I know the author of the post you refer to. She has probably 'gotten her hands dirty' more than you have- or will.

Her legacy includes students who can read, write, have gone on to become university professors and include doctors, lawyers and community leaders. That legacy also includes one on one tutoring, long hours listening, helping, coaching and mentoring. She has cheered her students on from the sidelines. She has celebrated their victories and beat them back into shape after their losses.

The number of students who to this day attribute their success to her efforts and encouragement is remarkable.

The author of the post you refer to has never been afraid of teacher competency exams (and in fact, she is proponent of teachers competence. I hope you don't find that offensive). She received her teaching credentials before the profession became dominated with the lowest level of academic achievers.

Had you bothered to actually comprehend the blog post, you might have found the authors post refreshing.

She wants to empower teachers to teach. She wants children to excel and reach beyond what they believe they are capable of. She expects her students to build character by never allowing failure to box them in. She expects her students to achieve to the best of their abilities- usually way above what they and their parents think possible.

The author you find so easy to malign can tolerate failure from her students. What she will not abide is her students capitulating and giving up. One way or another, she has led her students to success.

Nor will she abide a system that will encourage the capitulation to children who understand that failure is a lot easier than success.

Clearly, that concept is foreign to you.

7:01 PM  
Anonymous J.D. Williams said...

I would respond on the original blog, but my comment that disagreed with the post was said to be "name calling." The author of the blog tends to throw a few descriptions towards students that would be considered name calling. My comment was erased and my email address banned to put up any more comments because I disagreed with the entire blog post (and after re-reading it about 6 times I still do) and the blog writers attitude towards students.

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred: If this blog writer has achieved all of the things you claim, it must have been with a different attitude. Maybe your comment was just lost on me because I must have comprehension issues as well. Your paragraph on Teacher Competency exams definitely came from right field, but again I guess I'm one of the lowest level academic achievers to have graduated from a teacher education program less than 40 years ago. I actually graduated less than 8 years ago so I'm probably on the lowest rung of teacher competence by your criteria.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

As it happens, teacher competency is now a very real issue.

Predictably, the teacher unions are steadfast in their opposition to competencey exams.

In addition, the academic standards of teachers is no secret. See this:

http://www.tc.columbia.edu/news/article.htm?id=4985

Excerpt:

"Low admission and graduation standards. Education school faculty give students in leadership programs their lowest ranking on academic motivation and performance. Further, the standardized test scores of students in these program are not only among the lowest in education related fields but are among the lowest in all academe."

Perhaps you can now connect the dots between my remarks and your comprehension issues.

7:27 AM  
Blogger TMAO said...

S,C,A

The person you describe sounds lovely. I don't know that person.

I read a blog post. There is a person who refers to students whose behavior she does not like as "shitty," who believes the "bratty" kids should be kept away from the "good" kids ("Where? To be perfectly honest, I don't care."), who maligns kids with IEPs, who thinks that every misbehaving kid has terrible parents, who believes that managing student behavior is not a foundamental practice of the effective educator, who claims that classrooms full of "calm, peace, cool, and learning" are the exception and not the rule, and then further asserts that "there are no exaggerations" in her writing, sounds like a completely different person. Regardless of past accomplishments, I read there the kind of teacher I seem to encounter more and more, the kind that clearly does not want to "build character" as you suggest, but rather expect students of all ages to come fully built already, and if not, send them off -- "Where? To be perfectly honest, I don't care."

To answer your question, I don't find teacher competence offensive. I do find offensive, however, remarks that malign kids, degrade the profession, and attempt to boot-strap oneself into universality.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the thing that I found most interesting about that post:

"I taught public school for 26 years and my salary peaked out at 49,300. After 26 years. It became sooo not worth it. The constant disruptions, the constant expectations that certain kids would not be held accountable, the constant accusations of favoritism and wrongdoing and the 23-minute lunch at 10:30 a.m. and the study hall with 48 non-participatory boys, many of whom had to sit on the floor because the room was too small for that many desks, the indignant parents who demanded. . . actually, demanded ANYTHING. Nice people do not DEMAND. And if someone is DEMANDING an exception, he/she is not a nice person."

There's clearly a LOT of very real frustration here. In fact, I agree with many of the problems identified in this one paragraph. Teachers *are* underpaid. Many teachers *are not* supported by their administrators. School schedules dehumanize both students and teachers. Our classrooms are overcrowded and undersupplied. Teachers are overworked and don't have enough time to develop curriculum, deliver instruction, assess learning, provide individualized students who need it, and develop meaningful relationships with families. The interesting thing is that all those problems are not actually problems with students or families. They're systemic. And this blog author is taking all of her frustrations with these huge political and programmatic issues and blaming them on students and families.

I'm not going to say I blame her. I've only been teaching 4 years and I'm already a little tired. I don't know how I'll feel after 26. But it seems to me that she's really pointing fingers at the wrong people. If she had classes of 20 or fewer students; adequate, compensated prep time to complete her work inside the classroom AND to build meaningful relationships with her students' families; respect from society (both in terms of her work as a professional and in the concrete terms of her salary); and support from her administrators, a lot of her problems would disappear. The problem is that, lacking those things, she blames individual kids and families, rather than a system that sets her - and her students - up for failure.

That's sad.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous fawn said...

I read the post you refer to.
I am a parent. I thought about leaving a comment.
She refers to parents in a very disagreeable tone.

I don't smoke. I don't drink. My kids are well behaved to the point that a teacher I'm fighting with on "policy" sent home a note saying that my son is a "role model for the whole class".

However, I hate that teachers think a parent should sign every darn paper.
I am in disagreement with her blog stating, "Why should the child be penalized because the parents can't get their act together for thirty seconds to sign a damn paper?"

Well, The child should not be penalized so why are their policies that reward and penalize a child for the action/no action of the parent.

We need to put the responsibility of the child back in the hands of the child.

I want to tell that lady I have my act together. My kids were getting high citizenship grades UNTIL I refuse to sign papers. Why should the child's citizenship grade be lowered because I write a note saying I'm not signing every darn A+ paper I receive. I'm not the student anymore and don't care to write my name on papers that don't belong to me.

I much prefer this blog.

I don't care what that other poster says about her legacy but she is very opinionated and categorizes way to much. You'd think every kid who was a bad seed came from trailer trash parents whom smoke and drink just from reading her blog.


I am of the opinion that teachers do work darn hard. I know too many parents who tell me they pay taxes and think the school is their to raise their kid.

I think parents think they are to busy. Parents think the school should raise the kids. Parents are to tired at the end of the day to get involved.
However, It isn't all parents.

We just aren't getting through to parents that they need involved. All this signing papers is not getting the parent involved.


Who is penalized? the students and teachers


Thanks
for being a great Teacher

I like your blog.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous fawn said...

TMAO,

I'd like to add that You are exactly correct!

fawn

3:33 PM  
Blogger ms. v. said...

I guess to me, it comes down to this: what is my responsibility to the kids who show up in my classroom? I can't change who they are, their prior preparation, or their parents' good or bad parenting skills. The only thing I can do is to be the best damn teacher I can be, figure out what they need, and give them that. On the side, I can work through our political system and in my community to try to improve the other issues that bring us under-prepared, neglected kids, but I can't just sit around wringing my hands and waiting on the world to change.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Tom Hanson said...

A great title for your piece - those people you hate sitting next to are indeed the ones that should leave the profession. And what a great line: if the teachers that leave schools are ....... applaud the decision to go sell insurance. But then again, just who will they be selling insurance to?
Tom Hanson
Editor
Openeducation.net

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post on your part. Thank you.

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred--I'm not afraid of competency exams. In fact, I maxed out the writing section on my preprofessional exam, okay? But the exams I took for my license were a joke. The test was not even based on the most recent version of IDEA--and this was 7 years after IDEA '97 had been adopted, so it wasn't like the exam folks couldn't have bothered to change it!

I don't see that particular blog writer as being inspirational for anything but TAG students, to be honest. I'd hate to see that person anywhere near a sped student.

7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TAG students are considered special education, actually. Contrary to popular (and annoying) belief, they're not always easy to teach. Done well, differentiation can be complex and demanding.

That said, maybe the teacher TMAO "hates" was just having a bad day. I consider myself a hands-in-the-dirt type of teacher but heaven knows I've had days where I want to vent.

Don't throw out the overhead projector with the lightbulb.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous, read the comments on the blog TMAO pointed us to. Those teachers pretty much feel the same way about kids with IEPs as "Mamacita" does. Very upsetting to see how some teachers really feel about kids with disabilities.

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Previous anonymous,

I didn't read the comments section of the scheiss post, but I'm well aware that many teachers are reluctant teachers of, if not outright disdainers of, kids with IEPs. No news there.

The point is that I don't hate those teachers. I don't hate sitting next to them. I don't hate talking to them or working with them. Why? Because I understand their frustration. I'm not rationalizing or justifying educational malpractice, mmmkay? Truth is, every kid has earned the right to learn. If you teach, suck that up or quit.

Venting about IEPs, discipline problems and parental disengagement is a reactionary yawp to the rancor blasted at teachers and "failing schools." It's not much better than right-wing radio, but just as inflammatory.

12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fawn said, "Well, The child should not be penalized so why are their policies that reward and penalize a child for the action/no action of the parent.

We need to put the responsibility of the child back in the hands of the child."

I understand your child is wonderful student. But I have students that I send reports home to be signed by parents all the time and the parents don't have the time to see that their child hasn't turned in homework for 4 weeks. I need that stupid paper signed....

Because you are the parent! Because you are responsiable. And I don't want you showing up in my classroom screaming that I didn't inform you of the failing grade. Don't you look at your child's paper anyway?

As for Mamacita's post, she sounds like she has gotten her hand dirty and cares a great deal. You don't get it. Where we live, all students have to pass a test. If I have to spend 10 minutes a day dealing with disipline issues, that takes away 10 minutes of instruction time for the rest of the students. Students that want to learn. The students that have to pass the test to graduate. Those problem students are not always special education. In my case, they are often general education.

I offer these students tutoring and extra help. I get my hands dirty. But, they do not want to be in my classroom and have horrible manners. An attitude that comes directly from their parents.

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know. I misspelled responsible in the last post. I still stand by what I said. Parents are responsible for their children. Don't whine about signing papers teachers send home. You should be looking at them anyway.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Of course, complaining about the kids is as much of a right for teachers as complaining about teachers is a right for kids. It can be so satisfying going off on the little sweetheart who thinks your name is "f---you." In fact, I think it is absolutely healthy doing so--sitting amoung colleagues after a long day with your favorite adult beverage in hand! But "mamacita's" public fingerpoint, blaming, denigrating and dismissal of the kids who challenge you and the world you represent is shameful. Her snarling contempt for parents who don't meet her standards is reprhensible. I don't care if former students defend her--everybody is some student's favorite teacher--I can't imagine the damage she did to the students who did not fit her idea of well-behaved. I cannot imagine the damage she did to our profession in the eyes of the parents who would not accept her view of their role. And if she's making 16,000 now and calling the cops when any of her students steps out of line, she is vastly overpaid. She doesn't, as she professes, love teaching, she loves pontificating to a group of individuals who copy down her every word and wouldn't dare to step outside the lines--that's not teaching, that's dictation.

I appreciate the response to scheiss's post and the supportive comments that I have found here.

Joe

7:06 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Anyone who reads into Mamacita's post what TMAO is simply unable to read.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Maleficent said...

Sometimes kids are just rotten little brats. Sometimes parents just don't care enough to teach their kids respect-for anyone or anything. Some teachers are asshats.

And j.d., Mamacita has a lot of friends--perhaps it is you who only has three. Had you indeed read the blog (which you disagree with in its entirety-by your own words!) you would realize that there is no "he", and you would further realize that SHE has many friends and supporters-teachers, parents and students.

I'm with SC&A, you definitely have comprehension issues.

Personally, I think you're an idiot. But that's just me. Have a nice day.

5:15 AM  
Blogger Maleficent said...

And to whatever jackass said this: "anonymous, read the comments on the blog TMAO pointed us to. Those teachers pretty much feel the same way about kids with IEPs as "Mamacita" does. Very upsetting to see how some teachers really feel about kids with disabilities."

The post had nothing to do with disliking kids with disabilites. I don't even know what you were reading to come to that asinine conclusion. She dislikes BRATTY KIDS who act that way because they've been taught by their ASSHAT parents that it's okay to be that way.
I'd hate to ever have any of you for my teachers, as you apparently are narrow minded and have a problem understanding people.

5:18 AM  
Blogger Obi's Sister said...

Learn to read for comprehension...

If you really read her blog, you'd learn she isn't one of those arrogant "educators" that take cheap shots at others to make themselves feel a little bigger.

6:38 AM  
Blogger TMAO said...

While it's kinda tempting to wade back into the kind of personal attacks I've avoided throughout all this, I'll just say that I'm a pretty good reader. I'm such an okay reader people pay me to teach other people to one day be the kind of people who are good readers. I read a blog post where someone refers to students whose behavior she does not like as "shitty," who believes the "bratty" kids should be kept away from the "good" kids ("Where? To be perfectly honest, I don't care."), who maligns kids with IEPs, who thinks that every misbehaving kid has terrible parents, who believes that managing student behavior is not a foundamental practice of the effective educator, who claims that classrooms full of "calm, peace, cool, and learning" are the exception and not the rule, and then further asserts that "there are no exaggerations" in her writing.

I read that "brats," and the awful trailor-park dwelling parents who spawned, them are the reason people leave the profession. While I don't understand from whence public school teachers developed this sense of ivory tower smugness and aloofness, I will say that teaching kids like those ya'll seem to despise so much, is part and parcel of the job. Act accordingly.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Catherine Johnson said...

Parent involvement doesn't mean signing papers!!!!!!

THAT IS A KEEPER!!!!!!

oh, boy

6:03 AM  
Blogger Catherine Johnson said...

Teachers *are* underpaid.

The teachers in my district "top out" at $100,000 with a pension and health benefits for life. This is far more than I earn in most years. It is less than my husband, a college professor, earns, but then again he is supporting 3 children, two of them with severe handicaps, as well as the caregiver we employ to this day. (Daycare doesn't end when your kids are handicapped.)

Our teachers often retire in their 50s and take up other careers (real estate in two cases I know). They have robust tutoring businesses, charging $80/hr (and rising - one teacher is now asking $100/hr) which they pursue before and after retirement.

I'm not aware that they give discounts for middle class and disadvantaged children, though it's possible they do.

I should probably add that parents & tutors are doing a vast amount of reteaching here. My child will not do well in school without me to reteach content and skills.

As a direct result, we have no disadvantaged children -- none -- enrolled in accelerated classes.

My district has expressed no interest in raising the academic achievement of disadvantaged kids, middle class kids, or advantaged kids.

When I directly raise the fact that we do not have a single disadvantaged child taking algebra in the 8th grade with teachers and administrators, I get blank looks.

6:11 AM  

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