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Sunday, May 23rd, 2004
12:43p - Next Year's Schedule (This Turned into a Two Part Rant)

One positive change that has come about since the minions of the state DOE evaluated our school last April is that the TEACHERS actually have a provisional schedule for the classes assigned to them for next year.

Over the years, the ever-evolving budget cuts have led to doing more and more with less and less. Thus began the justification for NOT showing us what our load would look like. I overheard one administration official tell a griping colleague that they were afraid if they showed us what we'd be responsible for, they'd be faced by mass resignations. The sad part is that NOBODY knows if it was a serious concern or supposed to be a joke.

Last year, one of the coaches who also has a reading endorsement and I discovered the day before the students were to hit the classrooms that we were to split the seventh graders between us for the reading class, to be conducted using the Accelerated Reading program (AR), which we knew NOTHING about. Last summer, the school did what it SHOULD have done the summer before he and I taught the AR program -- paid for the training classes that would clue us in to the goals and objectives, the ins and outs of using this complex program whose literature readily admits that its success is controlled MORE by the effectiveness of the teachers than on any other element of the program.

The first day of school this year, a teacher workshop, I got together with the coach and we set up a company-approved method for giving GRADES in the program (which is designed to be UNGRADED, and ideally is UNGRADED, but they recognize that we teachers can't ski uphill when the slopes reach mountain height, and are required to grade.) We were horrified when the students could not meet the goals by the quarter deadlines, and called the teachers who had taught the classes the prior year, only to be told in all seriousness that the students were so thankful to be earning D's by fourth quarter!

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1:11p - On Teaching a Foreign Language

I allow Spanish students to come into ANY Spanish class (which is illegal, but since they work on individual assignment sheets and go at their own pace -- which MUST BE forward -- is possible, but takes tons of prep work) because the alternative results in big gaps which allows them to forget too much in between. I've had students take Spanish I as a freshman and Spanish II as a senior, and play catch-up and feel inadequate all year, or drop, because of it. More and more colleges are requiring three years of high school foreign language to allow students to skip the foreign language in college. Most high school students get far more support in a foreign language class, and move much more slowly than a college class can or will offer. The outlook is totally reversed. Students HAVE to be there in high school, and pay dearly for the privilege in college.

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