Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Beating my head against a wall

Some days I truly wonder why I bother. After a series of increasingly depressing staff meetings today about budget problems, district mandates to teach to new tests rather than to return our focus to actual literature, "new" initiatives that were tried years ago and were retired due to complete and utter failure, and other equally upsetting topics; I left school feeling completely and utterly helpless to do anything that might actually make a difference in my students' lives.

At least part of the problem is, as I posted the other day, the fact that NCLB has made testing vitally important to the survival of every public school. Thus, our administrators are justifiably desperate for ways to improve performance, even at the cost of actual education. A bigger part, at least from today's perspective, is that instead of trying just one or two new initiatives every few years to see if they make a difference, we're thrown half a dozen every year and told to make them all succeed, even when some work at cross purposes. It's like the district throws handfuls of pedagogical spaghetti at our little wall in the hope that some strands will stick even if most of them fall to the floor. The problem with that analogy, though, is that when real spaghetti goes "splat" it doesn't carry with it the future of hundreds of children whose educational needs are going unmet.

As a teacher, my hands are mostly tied. I can speak my mind to my administrative team during staff meetings, I can even go to school board sessions and let them know what I think, but the ultimate decision makers don't have to listen to a word I say. They don't have to try to juggle all the balls we're supposed to manage each and every day. They don't have to explain to students and parents why they're having to learn yet another formula for writing essays rather than reading a novel or engaging in some creative writing challenges. Moreover, they don't have to try to look a kid squarely in the eye and try to come up with an explanation that makes any kind of sense for all the BS hoops she has to jump through in order to get a diploma. It's infuriating and disheartening, and it makes me wonder how I'm going to keep doing this job (this job that I love 95% of the time) in the long run if things continue like this.

1 comment:

Natalie said...

That is so depressing. :(