Monday, September 26, 2011

Sorry, NYC Ed, I Am One Of Those


I'm one of those teachers that make NYC Educator unhappy because I tell my students to consider any career but one in education.  Don't get me wrong, I chose the path that was right for me but that was a lifetime ago when teachers were allowed to teach.  I taught all levels of math, from remedial arithmetic through calculus.  I taught gifted students and students with IQ's below 50.  I taught them skills they needed for life and I helped them learn to think  I taught them to believe in themselves and I taught them there was nothing wrong with failing, as long as they gave it their best.  I taught them not to give up, but, after failing, to take the course again.  I didn't have to teach algebra to students who had no desire or ability to go to college.

Teaching in the 21at century has nothing in common with the teaching I did in the dark ages.  We hand the kids a calculator and throw arithmetic to the wind.  The kids come to college and cannot manipulate simple fractions or signed numbers, skills they need to  move on.  They can't solve a word problem.  They can't do any more than memorize and regurgitate.  The beauty of mathematics is lost as they struggle to perform operations they should have mastered in elementary or junior high school.  And, this emphasis on passing everyone has taught the kids how easy it is to pass without doing any work.  A boy told me he passed math in high school because his teacher added trivia questions to every exam.  They are used to test corrections and credit recovery and everything else that will give a credit for the least amount of work possible. It's not only math teachers who have problems either.  A guy told me recently his law school students couldn't write a decent paper.

I loved teaching.  I loved making my subject come alive and watching the faces of students as they learned math was something they could succeed in.  Teaching is no longer like this.  In addition, there is the constant threat of U ratings and ATR status.  There is the constant complaint of how teachers are responsible for all the ills of education.  There is constant stress from students, parents, administrators, media and politicians.  I loved teaching but if I had to start over again today, I would choose a different career.  I'm happy my children are not teachers. 

5 comments:

bookworm said...

I have already told my ten year old that if she chooses to be a teacher, she is on her own. We will not pay for it or subsidize it.

It's too late for me, but I can save my kids.

High Arka said...

This one understands NYCEd's point, but you have the right of it as far you go, and perhaps generally, too. Being fair to your students means being honest with them about the options (or lack of options!) available, and as long as you have free speech, keep telling them the truth.

Hopefully, they'll all grow up remembering what you said, but how you simultaneously were wonderful to them, and be immune to Bill Gates' heirs. Maybe it'll have the effect of encouraging them through challenge, and they'll hit the profession ready to do something positive for it, rather than be a typical TFA.

They might yet be part of a society that manages to toss out the current (and possibly perpetual) breed of politicians and do better. Keep up teh honesty!

Schoolgal said...

An excellent post!! The job has changed and it was one of the reasons I retired the minute I could rather than work another year under the higher salary.

Today my friend told me that the staff has had many meetings about the new evaluation rubrics (1-4 ratings). She was told she would have to undergo 8 observations as well as some other nonsense like being published if you want a 4.
(Does blogging count??)

Then she told me the union said these evals are illegal because they are not contractual. The thing is, how much of this will the union agree to. If you teach at a "restart school", the evals make it impossible to reach a 4 status. For instance, if one child "seems" to not be paying attention, the teacher automatically gets a 2 rating. And btw, the union did agree to using these rubrics at the restart schools.

So I totally agree with you. To recommend this job is telling someone they won't have a future when they reach a certain age. They can become an ATR, or worse, be fired under some new evaluation law that has little to do with the actual job of reaching our students. They will be subjected to ridicule, have very little support, and be told to shut up and follow the rules or else. And, they will be lucky if they get a pension.

btw, the teacher at my school that became an ATR this year is totally miserable. The principal took away her reading position (in a school that desperately needs one) to save on her budget.

Anonymous said...

I love teaching but in the last 10 days, I had to
a) teach in a 1 room school house with only 2 adults on site and receive no break- which means I worked for 7 hours. (this is UPK and it is mandated that there must be 2 adults at all times- Thank you DOE for excessing this pre-k class out of their public school).
b) have changed routines every day because a NEW PROBLEM came about
c) had to CHANGE LOCATION 3 times because the 1 room school house was shut down by the Dept of Health due to hazardous construction on site.
d) teach in a public school cafeteria for 2 days- completely educationally unsound
e) change location for a THIRD TIME- which is only temporary until the permanent site is FINALLY COMPLETE with construction (not until November)
f) was told to report to the director's office for a meeting last Thursday- where he claimed that the 'parents were not happy in how I made the environment safe' and gave me 5 days to model lessons after the educational director or else I will be dismissed.

As a result of all of the BS that arose, (and thanks to a little help from my blogger friends), I wrote a resignation letter that was the beginning of a paper trail of all of the inappropriate concerns that went on for the last 10 days. I did resign but I (the teacher) began a paper trail against these idiots to support myself and the children who were NOT TAKEN CARE OF IN THIS SITUATION.

***and the best part about this is that I have TONS OF SUPPORT FROM THE PARENTS! They said that they understood,agree and left tons of messages at the director's office.***

A lesson to be learned here- I am 1 teacher who will NOT BE MESSED WITH..especially when 'wrongs need to be righted'.

Advocate Tracie said...

"Wrongs will be righted, if we are united, let us seize the day!Friends of the friendless seize the day. Raise up the torch and light the way. Proud and defiant, we'll slay the giant. Let us seize the day!"

* I hope one day, it will be like this again. I know this week I certainly 'raised the torch' myself to not delay'.

***From Newsies - about union workers in 1899 fighting Pulitizer and Hearst***