Thursday, February 16, 2012

Three Sided Story

Mr. AP always went on and on about Ms. JKIP and how wonderful her statistics were.  Ten years after her retirement, he is still praising her up the kazoo.  But, as we all know, there are three sides to every story, the one he tells, the one I will tell and the one in the middle, which I will also try to tell.

Mr. AP's side:  Ms. JKIP was G-d's gift to the teaching profession.  Her statistics were always tops.  No one did better than her when it came to getting kids to pass the regents.  Because of this, she always got the best classes to teach.

My take:  When programs were distributed, a howl sounded throughout the building expressing the agony of the students who found her name on their program card.  A huge line of these students formed outside the guidance office as counselors were bombarded with requests for program changes.  Their phones rang off the hook too, as parent after parent called, requesting program changes.  Only the strong managed to survive Ms. JKIP.  Her screaming, even over the slightest deviation in homework, brought many to tears.  A man who had Ms. JKIP in the '70's still shutters at the sound of her name and remembers vividly the hoops his parents jumped through to get him out of her class when he saw her name on his schedule for a second year.  Ms. JKIP also managed to have students who were failing or even slightly disruptive removed from her classes.  Since these kids ended up elsewhere, it is a no brainer to understand why her stats were always the best.  (Other teachers, just as good or even better, picked up these kids and got many to pass.)  While Ms. JKIP did succeed with many, you have to wonder about the kids she lost along the ways, the ones that could not take her czarist style.  I often think my own daughter would not have pursued a career in math if she had a teacher like this.  Her love of mathematics would have been crushed early on.  Ms. JKIP was late at least three days a week to her period one class, but that was okay as she was the teacher.  But, if a student walked in late, all hell broke loose. 

The Third Side:  Ms. JKIP was an excellent teacher.  She spent hours preparing lessons and agonized over every question she put on her exams to make sure they tested exactly what was taught.  She knew how to explain topics and to get across her points.  She ruled her classes with an iron hand and had absolutely no discipline problems.  From a technical point of view, she was a master teacher.

Ms. JKIP had her good side as well as her bad.  Did her good compensate for her bad?  Are the comparisons fair?  Would the kids who passed with her have passed with other teachers as well?  If all teachers were like Ms. JKIP, what would happen to those who just can't follow the rules to the letter?

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