Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Parent teacher activism!

In reflecting on my conversations with parents this past week, I found one particular conference to be so telling of how teachers and parents function within such a dysfunctional system. This conference was for one of my first graders, a child of Mexican immigrant parents and a sibling of a student I had 2 years ago. Both of her parents came to the conference and it was nice to see them again after 2 years. These are the type of parents who chaperone field trips, bring in food for cultural events, and help their children with their homework. Their son did really well in first grade, but their daughter has had a much different experience.

It all started last year when they tried to enroll her in Kindergarten. They were told that they didn't have the proper documentation to enroll the girl and were sent away. The mother returned a couple of hours later with the proper documentation and was turned away again, told that Kindergarten was full (which it actually wasn't). She was told she would have to enroll the girl in another school. The mother pleaded her case, saying that she wanted both children in the same school. Our school secretary laughed and told her to take both children out of the school (This is where I am livid!!!). Thankfully for us, the mother left her son in our program and took her daughter to another neighborhood school where she completed a full year of Kindergarten.

Meanwhile, I had no idea that any of this had happened until the little girl was brought into my classroom a few days after school started. When I saw my previous student's parents picking her up, I assumed she was a cousin, but they said "no," she's Miguel's sister. Just like him, she is like a sponge, absorbing everything that I teach. The only difference is that she came in with a very limited academic foundation from her Kindergarten program at the other school. She has had to have reading intervention just to catch up to where her classmates were in September. She has made great gains, but is still not up to grade level.

It was very hard to explain to her parents that the reason we had to check the "Promotion in doubt" box is because she came ill-prepared from a Kindergarten class they had not wanted her in to begin with. When I asked the parents about her K program, they said that the students were always dancing and that they were unhappy with the academics. They were thrilled when they were able to enroll her at our school for first grade along with her brother who is now in 4th.

Throughout the conference, their third child, another girl, was looking at books in my classroom. I asked them how old she was and they said four years old. I told them, "You can't let the same thing happen to her." I said, "Siblings have to be accepted, it's a rule." (although I'm not sure EXACTLY where it says that, I'm pretty sure it is a rule). She said that she had told that to the school secretary last year and had been turned away rudely. I told her to hold her ground, to REFUSE to leave the office until her child was enrolled this time. I told her to let me know if the same thing happened again and I would do the same. I know if I had been there the first time, this would have never happened. It makes me mad that school employees on power trips can do whatever they want and treat families like crap, and we don't know about it so we can't do anything.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I have to be honest. I love my class this year. My students are great, the class size in manageable, my colleagues are amazing, but I really can't stand my administration. I have gotten to the point where I can't even be in the same room as any of the administrators. I just have no respect for them and that is a bad place to be as a teacher. I'm afraid that if we are in the same room, I won't be able to hold back and I'll call them out on their BS.

I have more experience than them (and this is only my 5th year), more education, and a much better grasp of the curriculum. I really feel that my administration offers me nothing this year and I can see right through them. They are so full of it I can't even bear it and they do NOTHING for our children. My students do not even know who any of them even are. They think the principal is the woman who is actually our AP, but they don't know her name, they just call her, "The principal lady." No administrator has been to my classroom this year. They have NO IDEA what I am doing with my students, but they keep putting more and more demands on us, demands that have nothing to do with a quality of education. They demand things of us that THEY are accountable for, but they don't even understand them themselves.

This is the first year I haven't finished my reading assessments by report card time and it's because of my administration. They keep wasting our preps with stupid PD given to us by our less than reputable colleagues who need to fill THEIR schedules (my problem? NO!!!).

There is so much miscommunication, I feel like I am totally out of compliance when it comes to the curriculum I am using (even though I LOVE what I am teaching and I know what to teach). They ordered a lot of new stuff this year that came slowly and in pieces and without training. It all just seems like a waste of money. I have boxes of workbooks that belong to programs I can't even use. Some of them are not even for my grade level, but I was told to hold them in my room. All this and we don't even have the math books we need. I have had to photocopy Math Steps this year because we don't have enough.

There have been so many instances in which I have tried to help my administration, but it always turns out bad because they don't follow through and I feel totally used and guilty later for having even been a part of something that turned out so wrong.

I guess I am just dreading the faculty conference tomorrow. I just can't stand to look at any of them. My colleagues also kind of make me mad at these things because they act like sheep just going along with things that make no sense or just arguing about stupid points that have nothing to do with the general incompetence of those in charge. They don't question at all. I guess I'll just go to it and keep my mouth shut and try not to make eye contact.