Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Glad to be where I am

This morning we were assigned a professional article focusing on "Why Don't More History Teachers Engage Students in Interpretation?"

It sparked a good bit of debate. The authors have some excellent ideas about getting students to understand genuine historical interpretation rather than just lecturing and giving notes and studying dates.

I don't think there is a teacher here at the MNHS class that wants to do the latter. They would all love to do the former. However, there are far too many constraints on most of the teachers: overloads, discipline problems, limited technology access, cramped classes, seven different preps, coaching . . . oh yeah, and having a life.

Initially, I have to admit it, I thought "Oh, get over it" when most teachers here began complaining.

But then I listened to their workloads. I was amazed. Some are their entire departments! Some teach seven different preps a day! Some teach history, government, and math! Yes, math!

I couldn't help but count my blessings for being at good old LHS.

I have it so nice. I teach what amounts to two - yes TWO - preps a day. One lit and language 11 and College comp.

After visiting with more teachers at lunch, I just couldn't believe the pressures and unrealistic expectations their districts put on them.

I spoke about how utterly stupid I believe it is for our profession to take our best new teachers and just bury them under heaps of the worst classes.

One teacher here chimed in how one of his school's best young math teacher is stuck teaching remedial math while a teacher who has taught 38 years has market cornered on all of the higher math classes cornered. How fair is that? (and don't get me going on this seniority crap or that if you've taught long enough you should be able to enjoy some of the 'best' classes).

Another from the same school talked about how a first year teacher in his field is swamped under six preps (one of which is an absolute terror - so much so that the teacher I was talking to asked the principal if he could take the class to try and help out the new teacher) as well as an overload (now what kind of administration would dump an overload on a rookie teacher?) and helping coach two sports!

Talk about a recipe for disaster.

And this goes on in small schools all over our area.

Now that doesn't mean we don't have lazy or poor teachers.

But from the people I've met here, I am amazed that these teachers are able to do so well with the pitiful resources they are given and the less than envious educational situations they are put in daily.

That little discussion has given me much greater confidence in my fellow teachers and in the people sitting in this class.

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