Why a blog?
October 12, 2011, 11:02 pm
Filed under: What do you think?

I don’t know about you, but my neck is sore.  Rubbernecking in what appears to be the freeway pileup of  articles about how teachers really need to get their act together requires that I take a heavy dose of ibuprofen on a nightly basis.  My  regular world as an experienced educator feels, rather suddenly, like falling through Alice’s rabbit hole.   When I read the news, strange beings are staring back at me and upside-down teacups are floating all over the place.  I am not really sure who if I understand who is on my side anymore.

As I try to stay “current” by cruising the internet for all the information I will ever need, I feel like I have choked on one of those birds with the giant red puffing throats who strut their stuff only after they are in mine.  The “news” is now the Niagara Falls of unrestrained commentary rather than the Walter Cronkite report of facts I grew up watching.  I am trying very hard to “form” an “informed” opinion.  I am still deciding how to take action without offending the conservative friends in my life.  Can I do this and still retain some kindFrigatebird of backbone or at least an exoskeleton?  Am I alone?

I needed a change.  I was about to pave the road to “old disgruntled staff- meeting attendee”.  I was becoming that teacher I made fun of my second year in this profession.  I now understand EXACTLY how they felt.  Let’s face it – how many of us spend hours inventing the supercalifragilisticespialidocious lesson plan to find out that after you teach it (with all of its bells and whistles) the kids look like they crawled out of the sensory deprivation tank in the 1980 movie Altered States?

Hmmm… surely this drivel could make a critic question whether I should be a teacher at all?  But here I am.  Just like you, I crawl out of bed in the dark to get clean and enter the world of “teen”.  You know it’s fun.  Who wouldn’t want an inside track on the latest lingo, relentless but fresh sarcastic humor, and the giddiness and angst of the typical 16-year-old?  I even know what “ballin” means (it’s not as bad as it sounds). I laugh a lot most days and appreciate their kind hearts, even if they don’t put them on their sleeves all the time.

I got lucky.  With a deluge of profiteers inventing jargon for administrators to tar and feather me  (in addition to making bank while selling books about their magic acronym and pandering to equally profitable but cheaply made standardized tests), I blindly stumbled upon actual valuable information.  Whoa!  AND actual PEOPLE who seemed to know what they were talking about and could help me!

I am once again excited about what I do and confident that what I am doing is right, or at least on the right track.  And it’s not what I did last year… or the previous 17.  (And I swear I have not regressed to my college lifestyle where this could be a massive hallucination.)  So why a blog?  It’s my only outlet besides my household backboard called my husband, poor guy.

At my school I now sometimes feel like a misfit in a foreign land where I learned a new language that no one speaks.   I left but never really left… all of my colleagues are still safely walled off right next to me in cinderblock and epoxy.  But in my eyes they are “back there” where I was.  And the scary thing, I think the critics are right.  Education is a mess.  But scarier… their smoke and mirror “solutions” are toxic waste.   How can I help my colleagues, my friends escape?  How can I do it without freaking them right out?


6 Comments so far
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Welcome to the Blogosphere. Wow! Modeling workshop, twitter and now a blog! Seems like you are breaking out of that shell quickly. Keep up the reflections you are not alone! It is a tough conversation to have with teachers who aren’t ready. It’s sort of like we have taken the blue bill and we now know about the matrix. You can’t go back to where you were, but unless you are ready to see the problems you won’t. Tough position we teachers are in right now.

Comment by Bryan Battaglia

I totally understand. Teach by example to your colleagues. That is what I am trying to do.

Comment by pam

These comments are appreciated more than you know… or maybe you do. 🙂

Comment by ofot

I totally understand where coming from – I accidentally fell into into the standards based grading rabbit hole last Saturday and have sipped the kool aid! I am trying to figure it where to go from here. I teach intensive reading to 10th, 11th & 12th graders, so any help on how to implement sbg in a reading class and / or in general a remedial class would be appreciated.

Comment by Theresa Rogers

LOL – oh I know, so drinking it myself and trying it out bits and pieces in class. The interactions with kids are so much better. I started with Think Thank Thunk Cornally is very funny and although a physics/math teacher I think you can get a lot from him philosophically. He has links to other SBG blogs. I also try to follow as many SBG’ers on Twitter as they are often posting great links. Finding a good language arts person to model would be the ticket. But also be aware there is no one way to do it. I started by taking a 4 question quiz and putting each question in the grade book individually and allowed kids to take re-assessments. It is key for the quiz to test a skill, not rote memorization and have the content of each retake be slightly different; The great part is kids chase the skill not just the points. I plan to keep trying to put more links on the blog, so check back – I’ll keep my eyes peeled for LA stuff.

Comment by ofot

As an update – I have made a huge shift in my classroom and have implemented many parts of standards based grading in my intensive reading class. I have shared the “kool aid” with my department and they are on board for ditching the 50+ benchmarks and focusing on the 13 that are tested on the high stakes test. I have since narrowed the focus down to 4. And today my principal asked me to present these ideas to the English and Social Studies Departments next week. Yikes!!!
Thanks for the info – Theresa

Comment by Theresa Rogers

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