When do I get to teach?

I sometimes wonder how our children learn in school, especially in the upper elementary grades. I'd love some of these politicians who keep cutting our school budget, lay more requirements on us as teacher, and then scream and holler how we as teachers are not doing enough (you know the type), to come spend a day by themselves in a kindergarten classroom at the first of the year. If teaching is SO easy and ANYBODY can do it, why don't they? I personally applaud kindergarten and first grade teachers. I couldn't do it. But I digress so see my note below.


In grades four through six it seems that I am constantly testing my students. They haven't had a chance to learn anything and boom, we need to test them to see where they are. It doesn't matter that administration calls it assessment, it is still a test. I don't think parents are aware of how many times we give our students these tests to make sure "they are going to perform on the XXXXXX test (insert your state's high stakes test name, in Arizona it is AIMS - the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards). In my school district we give the AIMS and then three (3) additional AIMS "pretests" during the year. Each time it pretty much kills the week. If the students are ESL, then add a couple of more tests to see how English proficient they are.


If I'm not testing them, then we have fund raising assemblies to go to (because the aforementioned idiot, I mean politician, hasn't given us enough money to get replacement books) or some other special. Saying this, please bear in mind that the kids need these specials (P.E. and music for instance). Not only does it give the kids a break from their teacher, but it allows me to go potty. There are a few specials where not all the kids leave the class and those kids have to be taught something. We are being told children are not allowed to just read (a library book).


Focus on the 3Rs, Reading, wRiting, and 'Rithmetic. This makes for a boring day, both for the students and the teacher. I have people in an administrative role try to tell me that doing social studies is not reading or that recording observations in science is not writing. Last time I checked, Social Studies books have to be read and recording observations requires the use of a pencil/pen and paper.


This is not just another duel edged sword. Technology costs money, but to get it and then maintain it and people don't seem to want to pay for it at all. Students need to know how to do more than move a mouse around and click on things. Usually those things are games. Many schools are using games to promote student engagement so they learn; however, this reinforces the notion that computers are fancy and expensive gaming systems. What is even worse is that many of the newer teachers have no idea how to promote the use of technology by their students. Instead of a poster for that science or social studies project, why not a presentation? Of course for for every one to view the presentation a projector is required and the best solution is projector and a SmartBoard. I can go on here, but you should be getting the idea.

NOTE: While I was in the Marine Corps, I was taught the difference between a fairy tale and a sea story (a fairy tale starts out "Once upon a time…" whereas a sea story starts out "This ain't no sh**…."). Well….this ain't no lie. I did a long term substitute assignment for a guy who's wife had a stroke in front of her class. As she was going through her physical therapy so she could come back to teaching the doctor told her to take it easy and work back into teaching. He wanted her to start out in kindergarten, then move to first grade and continue working her way back to where she could "get back" to teaching her sixth graders. She had the presence of mind not to let him know he was nuts. She just smiled sweetly and said "Thank you Doctor, what ever you say."

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