Everyone Can Do The Math But The Administration

, , , , , | Learning | June 16, 2020

When I was in ninth grade, nearly thirty years ago, I went to orientation for high school, having come from middle school. I was handed a schedule without math for the first trimester. Everyone was told that these were not final schedules and ours would arrive on our first day. Having been told for the last eight years how the school knew what they were doing, I didn’t question it. Now, I’d have spoken up.

The first day of school, my schedule was the same: no math. Having had to take a test to set which class I was to go into, I wasn’t concerned. My advisor, having twenty kids asking questions and only fifteen minutes in which to answer them, spoke to us all. “We can not add a class, only take one away. Any changes will be made in the next week.”

I didn’t need to remove one, so I waited. Nope, no change.

Second trimester, I now had math. I asked my teacher for a book. “Where’s yours from last trimester?” No math, no book. So I was sent right off to the counselor’s office. I explained my predicament. “Not possible. You skipped class.” I showed all three schedules. I was asked why I didn’t speak up. I restated that I thought and had been told that the school knew the best. I was told that I’d have to take it in the fall. So, I’d be a tenth grader in ninth grade math. I asked about when I’d take twelfth-grade math. “Not the time to worry about it,” I was told.

Once I got home, I had to reexplain the situation. My parents did the same, pardon the pun, math. My father decided he needed to speak to someone. As he was waiting, the principal came by. They addressed each other by name. The principal asked why he was there. Dad explained. The principal said, “Keep me in the loop.”

Five minutes later, my father left and I was called in. I’d get a special math class by myself. I now had eleven weeks to do twenty-five weeks of math. I got the impression I was expected to fail. But there was a kicker. In three weeks, I’d be going in for major surgery. I’d be out of school for two weeks. So now, I’d have nine weeks. But the teacher they picked? My childhood babysitter’s best friend, someone I knew well. I finished eight days early. There was a new counselor in the fall… who’s now the principal.

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Teachers Deserve To Be Millionaires

, , , , , , , | Learning | June 14, 2020

Here are some of the reasons I had to quit teaching. I was a pre-K teacher in an urban school. Kudos to those who are still sticking it out!

Parent: “I don’t discipline my child.”

Her child constantly attacked his classmates and would not follow directions. He ended up head-butting me in the face. I legit celebrated when I got back from sick leave to hear he had been pulled.

Another incident:

After writing out a child’s name on my welcome board, a parent screams at me that the M in the middle of the name should be capitalized.

The name was given to me in all caps.

Another incident:

Principal: “You need to get all of your kids to [end of kindergarten assessment level] by the end of the year!”

Me: “Uh, they are coming to me at a deficit and I only expect half of them to be testing at a kindergarten-ready level.”

I explain the rest of the assessment tool.

Principal: “All of them should be at the highest level of the assessment;why else would they include it?”

The principal repeated this idiocy for months and didn’t seem to understand rubrics. Then, she proceeded to give my team the least amount of planning time, refused to alter her own weekly training schedule, refused to give us substitutes to assess our kids, and still insisted the kids should test at end-of-kindergarten levels.

Another incident:

I have to chase one child who has run away from me on the playground and drag him back before he runs into the street. A white lady dragging a screaming African-American kid is NOT A GOOD LOOK.

Another incident:

One of my student’s personalities flips in January; he destroys my room once a week and I have to teach in the hallway while other teachers have to calm him down.

He later proceeds to trip my paraeducator, who falls and cracks her pelvis. That is the only time I’ve ever seen a pre-kindergartener suspended.

In the last week of school, I told his dad he might need some father-son time. Dad got the hint and didn’t bring him back.

Another incident:

I taught twenty-one four-year-olds by myself for a year since my paraeducator had to teach third grade, because teachers kept quitting.

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Clearly This Teacher Listens To Weird Al

, , , , , , , , | Learning | June 13, 2020

I’m the same person from Please Keep Off Of The Grass, Shine Your Shoes, Wipe Your… Face. This story involves my eight-year-old niece on a Zoom call with her class.

Her teacher tells the class they’re going to do a scavenger hunt, that they have to leave their tablets where they are, and that they have thirty seconds to get the items she calls out. 

I’m standing just out of sight and after a few items the teacher calls out, “Scissors!”

Um… you give them thirty seconds and then tell them to get scissors after you see them running to get the items? 

What kind of teacher tells her eight-year-old students to run with scissors?

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Dogs Will Make Liars Of You Every Time

, , , , , , | Learning | June 6, 2020

My brother used to have an excruciatingly awful PE teacher. She was absurdly strict and demanding, hated boys, often humiliated students for bad performances, and enjoyed hunting in her free time.

Then, my parents got a puppy. It was not their first one, but this one was special. Imagine a hyperactive, overly curious, excitable, enthusiastically friendly, and loving little furball Hell-bent on becoming his new pack’s alpha. He was the sweetest little doggo you could ever meet but incredibly difficult to train. He tried to be a good boy so hard, he really did, but he couldn’t sit still if his life depended on it. 

My parents took him to an obedience school. The trainer there lasted three lessons and then told them to try somewhere else because he couldn’t handle him. The next one threw in the towel after two lessons. The third school was specialized in training gun dogs, but at this point, my parents didn’t really care as long as someone could make the little guy sit.

When my father and Good Boy arrived at the school, guess who greeted them? My brother’s PE teacher! She was a friend of the trainer and learned to train gun dogs in her free time; she had owned dogs all her life, in fact. Seeing how my dad struggled with his dog, she assumed he just didn’t know what he was doing. 

“Give him to me,” she said. “I’ll show you how it’s done.” Seeing how she was strict but friendly toward the other dogs, my dad handed over our puppy. 

Long story short: the puppy won. By the end of the lesson, he was jumping in circles around his new best friend, madly wagging his tail, and the PE teacher was nearly crying. She apologized to my dad. They started talking and he revealed that my brother was in one of her classes; she was mysteriously friendly for him for the rest of his time with her.

The puppy eventually became a fantastic gun dog. He did calm down a bit when he got older, but even when he was ten years old and started getting grey, people would still ask if he was a puppy — “He’s so energetic!” He died of renal failure last year. We decided not to get another dog since none of us can imagine that any other could live up to him.

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Those Who Can Do, Those Who Can’t Teach, And Then There Are Substitutes…

, , , , | Learning | June 4, 2020

To get an electrical engineering degree at my university, all students were required to take an upper-level course on electromagnetism prior to branching off to their sub-specialty concentrations. The course in question was taken after all the “weed out” courses, so it was expected that everyone taking the course was in it for the long haul and would pass the course even if they didn’t do overly well in it.  

Two days before classes were to begin, we were informed that the well-respected professor scheduled to teach our section was unavailable, and the class would be covered by a substitute they sourced for the semester.

Things did not get off to a good start. For the first few weeks, she had a very difficult time teaching the material, often making obvious mistakes in class both with the material and with simple arithmetic. We tried to give her a chance, hoping that it was just nerves in her first big solo teaching gig, but then came the first big exam.  

The class as a whole bombed the exam with the average score around 40%. There was no curve applied, so pretty much everyone was failing. A few people went and complained to the Dean at that point, but nothing was done. Not until we actually got our exam papers back, that is.

The next class, several students publicly asked her to explain how the answer to a specific problem was achieved because none of us had gotten it right and we had mostly all gotten the same wrong answer. Her response?

“I don’t know, that’s just what it says on the answer key.”

She hadn’t even written her own exam and didn’t understand the exam she was giving us. 

That’s when the rest of us marched into the Dean’s office and demanded that something be done. I don’t know what the outcome of the high-level discussions were, but I do know the following: 1) the scores on the first exam were normalized on a curve so that most people passed, 2) the following exams were much easier, and 3) her name never appeared on the teaching roster in following semesters the entire time I was at the school.

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