Saturday, February 7, 2009

I work at one of THOSE schools... officially

I knew that when my school became "Corrective Action," things would change; and change they did. This week, the heavy hand of "THE SYSTEM" came down on my school. It probably doesn't seem like a big deal to outsiders, but to anyone who works in the public schools, you know that the moment administration feels entitled to tell you what to do, when to do it, and how exactly to do it without any input on your part or that of your colleagues, things are not good.

On Friday, we were informed that we had a mandatory staff meeting during our lunch and were instructed to be prompt (I breathed a sigh of relief for having brought my lunch that day). At the meeting, we were literally barked at by the literacy coach and the assistant principal (the new principal was of course not there, which has become typical) about how we have to give out a new reading log to our students starting Monday. They asked for no input whatsoever and didn't even inquire about how we were currently tracking reading, they just said "This is a non-negotiable." When I raised my hand to ask a question like, "Who designed this?," I was ignored. I didn't actually get to ask it.

Okay, you're probably thinking that this is no big deal. So what? It's just a reading log, but I beg to differ. It's not just a reading log, it's the end of a 10 year legacy of intellectualism, research, and inquiry at my school. Our school was one of those schools that got "turned around" in the mid 1990s. Previously a SURR school where teachers actually had TVs in their classrooms and did their nails on their preps, we became a school of integrity and expemplary teaching. We had connections will universities and continue to prepare student teachers from 4 different institutions. There are reasons why teachers (including myself) CHOSE to work at this school. We have study groups for our teachers and have been the foundation for much of the work of the TC Reading and Writing project. Now, since we didn't meet AYP for two years in a row (which I need to note is DIRECTLY related to the fact that they started testing newly arrived children after 10 months in the country instead of the previous 2 years), we have gone down the drain and our new administration has jumped on the NCLB bandwagon of standardization and corporate structures.

Back to the new reading log. It is a non-negotiable, as I previously mentioned and it sucks. It's so stupid that it makes me angry and embarrased to even send it home. My current reading log (which I have used for 4 years and has 3 different versions for use at different times of the year) requires more comprehension and word work than the new one that requires the children to write just the title and level of the book. This will do nothing for the children who can't even read the title. They'll probably spend all their time copying it (we all know how slow K and 1st graders write), and less time reading. Another aspect that bothers me is that it is double-sided and has over 30 rows. Are they kidding? They really think a 6 year-old will take care of a single piece of paper for a month. My current reading log goes home weekly and often comes back in bad condition after just one week. Another laughable part was that the AP and literacy coach (whose own classroom was a DISASTER when she was a teacher) said that they wanted to make sure that kids were reading at least 25 books at each level before moving up. Are you kidding me? They haven't ordered books in so long, I don't think I HAVE 25 at each level. My E/F bin is currently empty because I have so many kids there right now. They should spend more time worrying about how to get good resources and less time thinking about a dumb and poorly thought-out reading log.

It's just so aggravating. I don't want parents to think that I condone this. I think I might write them a letter explaining that the new Reading Log comes from administration because we all know that administration won't take the time to communicate ANYTHING with the parents.