Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Why I won't sit down and speak with Oklahoma State Superintendent Barresi

The campaign for re-election has begun and our state superintendent is visiting our school on Thursday. She's meeting with my team for 45 minutes, but I won't be there. I will be on my way to the Oklahoma Fall Art Institute with no regrets. 

When I found out that my team would meet with her, I thought I'd go ahead and delay my trip by a few hours and see if she could explain a few things to us regarding the pathetic accountability methods she had instituted. I felt she had some explaining to do and I might as well be there. 

Of course, my colleagues and I have been discussing and wondering what to ask her. We're told the questions would basically be screened and she doesn't have to answer what she chooses not to address. Hmmm....

Today I decided it wasn't worth my time. Today I was reminded that we might just be a campaign prop... "See how much Janet Barresi cares about the teachers." Today I thought about how much she loves vouchers, charter schools, and testing, testing, testing. Nope, not worth my time. 

Friday, October 18, 2013


I've thought a lot about whether blogging was something I really wanted to continue doing. I have decided it's important. As a teacher, I need to connect and hopefully inspire.

I was inspired today by Jason Stephenson. His blog, Room 149, is definitely worth a visit. I love it when I find teachers who are right where I am in classroom management and teaching style. They always show me ways to teach better, manage better, and understand these incredible creatures known as 8th graders.

This year, so far, has been crammed with growth and change. I feel like I am teaching at a new school. We have two new new administrators and a slew of new teachers. The new principals are open and honest, they challenge us and are 100% committed to our kids and positive change at our schools. The new teachers are fresh and incredibly motivated to learn and grow.

I am mentoring two teachers this year; one a first year and the other a student. It's humbling and awe inspiring to watch them blossom and inspire these kids. I am reminded each and every day how difficult this job is as I watch them navigate the complexities of a teaching career. They are both head-shakingly amazing.

This is the cover I remember.
We are finishing up "The Outsiders" in room C-3 and the students absolutely adore the novel. Who doesn't? I must have read that book 20 to 30 times during my teen years. 

I hadn't picked it up since high school and the first sentence, "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkenss of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul
Newman and a ride home." drew me back into a world I had loved and lived a long time ago. 

So, I've missed you. What have you been up to lately?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

April is the Cruelest Month

Tomorrow is the first day of April. In T. S. Eliot's poem, The Wasteland, he declares "April is the cruelest month". In public education, no month is a wasteland, except for April. 

In April, dynamic instruction grinds to halt and workbooks are hauled out that teach to the tests. Libraries close their doors to administer tests. Academically challenged students, who were fully included into regular classrooms, are removed to be tested. A pall lingers in the hallways, resignation settles over the classrooms, and we are fully immersed in "State Testing" mode.

My students really get it. They see the futility. The strugglers know the test pigeon-holes them. The average and above average students know they are simply losing time, wasting minutes and hours reviewing and waiting...