The Problem With Teaching Today: Told Through Two Anecdotes

The following stories are

non-fictional and depict

actual persons and events.

I was observing a teacher’s classroom; she had been having problems with a student who was a behavior challenge. The student was being disruptive and unruly, not at all ready to learn. I walked over to him, and I calmly asked him, “What do you need?” He yelled at me, “I need my crackers!” I turned to the teacher and asked her why she wouldn’t let him have his crackers. She replied, “because it isn’t snack time.” Can you imagine? Here is a student telling you he’s hungry, and you won’t give him what he needs because it isn’t snack time? I asked the teacher, “Which would you rather have, an unruly student who is being disruptive, or a student who is ready to learn? Let him have his crackers.”

As told by a behavioral specialist

I was talking to my colleague, who happened to help me develop our curriculum, and her kids happen to go to your school, and she was telling me that her children hate your class. They were talking about it over dinner one night, and she said they told her that they hate your class because it’s boring and they never do anything fun. This concerns me. You should be making it fun for the students, you should be doing projects with your students. This is unacceptable. What are you going to do to change this?

An overheard conversation between a supervisor and a foreign language teacher

The first story was presented during a professional development session. Based on the faces of the other teachers at my table, they were all thinking the same thing I was. Here is a student who has just been handed control of this poor teacher’s classroom. If a behavioral “specialist” is telling us that we need to give students everything they “need,” whenever they demand it, then we are all screwed.

The second conversation I was privy to because I share a classroom with the foreign language teacher. Here was a teacher who was being reprimanded, scolded, by a supervisor for something that wasn’t even true, based on one conversation that occurred at the dinner table. Because one family of students reported that a class was boring and not fun, two teachers were subjected to the criticism of their supervisor. Like the foreign language teacher remarked, they were assumed guilty and must now prove their innocence. Going forward, they must provide their supervisor with photographic and video proof that they are following the curriculum and engaging students through projects. Things they were already doing, but now they have to prove it because of the remarks of a couple of students at the dinner table.

During our PD session, after hearing the cracker story, another colleague remarked, “We’re no longer teachers. The students have all the power.”

In the Art Room

10 Reasons Why Your Student Didn’t Bring Home Artwork Today

Dear Parents,

How are you? Did you enjoy summer vacation? I did. I especially enjoyed sleeping in until 7:00am. Are you excited for the new school year? Great! But, um, can we have a word first?

I’d like to address a question I know at least two or three of you will make a point of contacting me about this year, “Why isn’t my son/daughter bringing home more artwork?”

Great question! For your convenience, I have outlined below the top 10 reasons why your son/daughter isn’t bringing home any artwork.

Continue reading

A Day In the Life

“One extra degree makes all the difference.”

Here I was, sitting in a staff meeting, being told by the administration that I can achieve more if I’m willing to give just a little bit more of myself, and all I can think is, “I’ve got nothing left to give.” You’ve taken one of my days. You’ve taken my classroom.  You’ve taken my instructional time. I have given everything, and yet I haven’t received more of anything in return. Except maybe students. I have more students in each class, but I can’t see that as a good thing.

Let me back it up. The idea is, if you push yourself just one degree more, you can go from hot to boiling, and boiling produces steam, and steam powers locomotives, and that’s an awesome thing. Or something like that. Honestly, you lost me at boiling. Yes, if I’m pushed just one degree more, I will be boiling, because I’ve been pushed pretty far this year already, and I’m none to happy about it.

First, they cut one of my days because “our numbers are down.” Then, they took my classroom because “our numbers are up.” And then, they cut my class time by ten minutes, gave me more students per class, and put me in a room with two other teachers. Two full time teachers, mind you. And now I’m being told to give more. Just a little bit more will make all the difference. Success is right around the corner.

Another favorite talking point was eliminating wasted time, “where can you cut back on wasted time?” (Well, for starters, I could not be in this meeting. There’s an hour and a half of wasted time I’ll never get back). Believe it or not, if you cut out 30 minutes of screen time every day, and put that time towards something more productive, like work, that equals 7,568 hours, which equals 4 1/2 solid weeks of time you could be using for work.* Think about that. Just thirty minutes a day. Because we all have that kind of time to spare, right?

I know this is supposed to be motivational. I get it, and maybe I could see the bigger picture here if it didn’t feel like I was being sh*t on, excuse my French. What I’m seeing though, the story I’m telling myself, is that I’m unnecessary, my class is wasted time**, and cuts must be made for the greater good in order to achieve success. Maybe I do see the big picture after all.

What kind of motivational nonsense have you had to sit through?

You better believe I was experiencing the 5 Stages of Staff Meeting Grief

*My numbers are suspect. I wasn’t really paying attention.

**Kid you not, this is basically what I was told when I questioned why art classes were being reduced by ten minutes.

A Day In the Life

The 5 Stages of Staff Meeting Grief

Staff meetings. So much fun. So productive. So relevant. So not true.

Back to school time is upon us. The emails are already blowing up my inbox. I’m heading into a week of meetings, professional development and various training sessions. Maybe, like me, you approach these days with refreshed optimism. Oh, how quickly it fades.The 5 Stages of Staff Meeting Grief www.athglitter.comBe strong, friends. Soon enough the students will be coming through those doors and all that training information, all those “important” handouts, will be forgotten in the bottom of our teacher bags, buried under SMARTR goals, assessments and learning objectives.

A Personal Note: It appears I am “back”. Time will tell if it sticks. These past two years (and of course, by “years,” I’m speaking in terms of school years) have really put me through the ringer, to say the least. If art teachers really do have expiration dates, I may be nearing mine soon, but until then, I’m still here. I’m back, and it’s good to see you again, friends.

I’ll be returning to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest soon, so don’t forget to follow me.

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A Day In the Life

How To Survive Back-to-School Professional Development

NOTE: This post was supposed to be published a couple of weeks ago, but evidently I forgot to schedule it, so it’s been sitting around, waiting for it’s moment to shine. I know it’s a little outdated, and probably irrelevant now, but let’s give it its moment, ‘kay?

It’s that time of year again. Back to school! Time to sit through hours of meetings and professional development while reminiscing about the good ole days when you used to sit by the pool, or go camping, or take a trip to the post office at 10:00 AM, on a Tuesday. Ah, those were the days. And to think, it was just a couple of weeks ago. *Sigh*

Fear not! I present to you, my tried and true tips for surviving back-to-school professional development.

Surviving back-to-school professional development

If you follow these 10 tried and true tips, I guarantee, you will survive those long, boring, tedious hours of professional development.

Have a great school year! I’m sure everything will go smoothly, and no one will throw you any unexpected bumps on your road to a productive school year.

What kind of painful PD did you have to endure this year?

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