Yesterday in “My Planning Time Was Wasted by Having to Attend a PLC Meeting”, the kindergarten team was told that we needed to increase the rigor of our teaching by incorporating a daily word problem into our daily morning exercises. WHAT????? We were told to do this to help them learn to problem solve. So maybe there is a teacher on our team that would accept this subtle indoctrination into the “The Wrong Way to Teach Problem Solving To Kindergarten Children” club, but I am not seeking membership into a brotherhood/ sisterhood of misguided academic practices. Oh, I must add the we are teaching them to problem solve one problem each week in preparation for a district assessment. Problem solving is not taught by teaching children how to solve a SPECIFIC problem, but by giving them the strategies and concepts needed to address problems in ALL DOMAINS. Not just math. So yesterday was a day like every other, our team was reminded to make the work harder to teach students how to problem solve via critical thinking skills that aren’t taught because we are teaching skills and not concepts.
Of course, I clearly communicated that fact at the end of the meeting, to which I received the this is what we are paid to do speech, to which I responded, something to the effect of it is still wrong.
I have about 70 more days of these warped ideas in education. When my kinder students complain that they want to go home because they don’t want to do work today, I am finding it harder and harder not to say, me either. Me either.
I teach ESL Kindergarten in a Title 1 school. In 180 days, the district in which I work believes that 80% of my students should read at an end of first grade level. Yes, you read that right. Someone in a central office actually believes that it is wise and appropriate to expect one teacher in a classroom filled with children who live below the poverty level to ensure that the majority of their students can and SHOULD read at an arbitrary level by a specific date.
As I type this, I think of the majority of classmates my 13 year old son has had over the years. The majority were upper middle class, their parents were highly educated, the families had access to resources, they attended a school with ratios between 7:1 and 10:1, and many of the boys did not begin Kindergarten until the year they turned six. Not the year they turned five. The expectations were developmentally appropriate, and the curricula focused on the mastery of concepts that a student could apply across the curriculum instead of mastering specific sills. The children were taught to problem solve, not solve or answer specific questions. The parents had/ have the ability to pay tutors when they can't or choose not to want to help. So in case I have not done a good job of connecting the dots, children with limited resources are expected to do more with less, while others have appropriate supports to guide them through developmentally appropriate expectations.
Well anyway, about two months ago I submitted the documents above for approval and copy. Yes, someone has to approve our copies. We are also limited to 1 set of copies per day with the exception of printing sets of books. Isn't that ridiculous? My request was denied because the papers were considered busy work. Okay, so look at the papers again. Look at them closely and consider the expectations and the skills required for my class to read.
Eighty percent of my class should read at an end of first grade level by the end of kindergarten.
The worksheets above are a Phonics activity designed to reinforce the lessons taught in the classroom. It is practice and review that supports the development of the skills required for successful reading in addition to fine motor development. Something else my children lack.
The copies were denied. Instead I was told to laminate one copy and use it for work in a work station. Oh yes, that's right. You want me to give my children an activity to complete in a work station while I am working with another child, and don't forget the children aren't supposed to ask me for help while I am working with my small groups. Also, who is helping/ monitoring the students to ensure that the work is done correctly. Oh yes, that's right. I am also supposed to get up and walk around to ensure that the work is correct, while working with my small group. What about evidence to support learning. Well apparently I should use the laminated sheets in my small group. Yes, sure okay. Did I also mention that it took over 30 days to have one poster laminated, and that if I need something laminated immediately I have to use my personal laminating machine and my own laminating pouches? So now I need to submit work over a month in advance to have it for my class. Yes, um, that is not going to happen.
Well anyway, yesterday at a PLC meeting (a giant time suck that results in the assignment of yet another mundane task that I KNOW the technology exists to complete instead of requiring me to hand enter data from an electronic file) I and the other teachers in my group were given a class set of worksheets by the reading specialist to support phonics instruction.
Of course I did not allow the opportunity to pass without sharing the fact that I submitted a similar activity months ago that was denied for copying. So this tells me two things:
1: Someone in an office is clueless teaching five year old children
2: Teachers are not credited with the common sense to know HOW to choose materials that support instruction.
Last night I called a grandparent after her grandchild missed three days of school. I should have called after the 2nd day, but I forgot. I was informed that the child won't return because she is returning to her mother. Grandmom is coming to pick up her granddaughter's belongings, so I decided to make her a shirt. I did not have any T-shirts in the girl's size so I made a blanket instead.
I am sure that some with feminist inclinations will ask why I told a girl that she is beautiful instead of smart, and why I used pink bows. Being smart is wonderful, but in a world where black girls don;t always receive the message that they are beautiful, I wanted to tell her myself. This blanket won't silence the background, but hopefully it serves as a reminder that her short kinky hair, and her brown skin are worthy.
As for pink. Black dolls are rarely dressed in pink. They are attired in purple or some other non pink color. Pink is reserved for white dolls as if to say that only white girls are feminine. So I made the bows pink. This child is beautiful, and she is a girl worthy of wearing pink.
From August until November, a five year old female student spent the majority of the school day sitting on the rug or at her table destroying her shoes and hair bows. Everyday. Not one or two days a week, but everyday. Piece by piece, this child would tear embellishments and rubber from her shoes while chewing on her shoelaces. Another teacher told me that she was low performing and misbehaved. When this student tired of destroying her shoes she would then turn to unraveling her hair bows, before taking her hair out of the well gelled ponytails placed by her grandmother. Every morning this child returned with a brand new hair bow and new inexpensive boots or maybe another pair of modest name brand shoes. Even inexpensive boots cost money to be replaced. Every day she arrived clean, so cleaned she shined, but by 10 AM she look disheveled and unkempt. I could not help but to wonder about her home life and why this child destroyed her clothing everyday. Oh, I forgot to mention that she would chew holes in her shirt. I just knew that something was wrong. Well something was wrong.
Because I lack the desire to play the role of dictator to a room full of 5 year old children, and because I had quite a few behavior problems, and because I refuse to use negative reinforcement for classroom management, my class was reduced to only my ESL students, with the understanding that all new students would be placed in my class. I was left with nine students. During that first two weeks, four new students arrived and they settled into newly established routines of my classroom. During this time, the female student blossomed. One day I realized that her hair was intact, and her bow and shoes whole. She begin to show interest in her work. I had time to teach her what she did not know, and realized that this student who was in a PK classroom the prior year with 34 students was not low. Last year she spent the entire year destroying bows, clothing and hair. She soon became a student who consistently made good choices or was easy to redirect. (those who know me know that I abhor the idea of redirection, because it does nothing more than delay addressing the real issue).
After the holiday, 5 new students were placed in my class, raising my roster to 18. In two short weeks she has begun to chew her shoelaces, and fail to follow classroom procedures. One morning I arrived late due to appointments and her hair bow was partially unraveled. As I write this I hold back tears of emotion and frustration because I HATE TEACHING. I hate that my day is so full of useless activities that I can't focus on what really matters. I almost laughed out loud the other day when someone said children learn social skills in pk/k. No, they are told to walk a line, but their hands behind their back and to be quiet and to wait until they are told to speak. They are called babies in a mocking way by their teachers, those who are supposedly good teachers that I have been told to observe. Good teachers are not necessarily good people. I don't want to learn anything about education from anyone who believes that shaming is the way to "command" respect and to gain compliance. I REALLY HATE MY JOB.
This is a child that is just two years older than my youngest son. I would not allow him to endure what I am required to implement, and I just want to quit. I want to walk away from it all and say fuck it, but there is another 5 year old girl who cries when she thinks that I am not coming to work. But then again I am doing a disservice to them, because somewhere in a 1st grade classroom a teacher will expect my low income, ESL students to arrive reading at an end of first grade level and my children most likely won't have that level of skill because pushing them beyond a certain point is another kind of disservice.
I love it when I attend awesome professional development sessions that present research based practices that enhance student learning.
I hate it when I realize that what I am learning goes against what I am required to implement.
Hey little kindergarten boy, I see you looking at me when you walk in the hall. I see that smile spread across your face, and the glow in your eyes as we approach and I know that you want to say hello.
DON'T DO IT!
DO NOT SAY HELLO TO ME!!
I guess that you did not receive my telepathic message because you dared to say hello, and I wrongly returned your greeting, and now your teacher is giving you the stink eye. Why did you speak to me? Why can't you control your joy? Why must you be so happy and polite.
I feel her eyeballs piercing your soul. You spoke You spoke little kindergarten boy.
Maybe next time I should look the other way.
It is hard to take seriously an educational system that requires teachers to pit children against one another with the use of a visual behavior management system.
Instead of teaching children to learn to control their behavior, we tell them that Suzy is good because she has 15 stars. Maybe you too can one day be like Suzy.
I am going to hell, for my participation in the equivalent of a kiddie cage match.
I am on my way to becoming “distinguished educator.
Class Dojo ✔️
A prize for the child with the most points ✔️
Patience for the tears of the children who are “bad” and don’t win. ✔️
Let the games begin ;(
Adults are considered rude if they don’t speak, but children are taught to walk a straight line with a bubble in their mouth, their hands behind their backs, and reminded to be quiet in passing.
I felt the need to share my feelings about teaching with you good people because it is easier than taking off a day and going to a therapist.
I hate teaching.
If someone said that they were placing their newborn baby in a program that would teach them how to sit up, and walk, it is most likely that the person to whom they are speaking would question the logic and patiently explain that sitting up requires the development of many skills that the newborn acquires day by day over the first four to seven months of life. From the first wobbly head lift off the mother's chest, to rolling over, sitting up is a detailed process which is best not to rush or intervene during the period of normal development.
The same applies to walking, talking, and all the other milestones associated with the first two years of life. Impatient new parents are reminded that children develop at their own pace and that they will one day sit up, roll over, talk, walk, etc.
However, when it comes to education, the development of the child is not taken into account. Somewhere in a dusty or not so dusty office, someone is making decisions that are based on neither science or rooted in common sense and marketing them to educators and parents as a cure all for the deficits in the American education system, and time after time their methods and curricula are "sold" then pandered off on another generation of children who with each passing year perform worse than the year before.
I really hate teaching.
I was told that children learn to read by reading. That if you place a book in front of a child they will learn to read. Of all the things I have been told, that by far is the most ridiculous.
A few weeks ago, at a PD for our writing curriculum educators, I was told, along with a roomful of others, to grade artwork (writing) based on our ability to recognize common features or the use of standard colors. For example, did the child color the elephant gray or pink. Is the ability to view the world through a singular lens the standard by which we judge children?
Last week I gave the smartest child in my class a grade of "N", technically he should have received a "U", but we aren't giving grades below an "N" during the first nine weeks because the children are still "learning", because he only recognizes the upper case and lower case X. He is five. FIVE. 5. FIVE years old. I gave a five-year-old who can describe to me how to make letters, an N. He does not "Need Improvement", he just needs to learn, and to be honest why does he need to learn now.
He has an emotional intelligence and maturity that makes me want to sit down with him over a cup of coffee, or milk, and ponder what makes the sky blue, or why does play dough smell salty. When I am not forcing this wiggly, energetic, child, who someone would probably want to dose with methylphenidate, to do some academic foolishness, he can sit for extended periods of time drawing, or playing with manipulatives in a way which they are not intended, building things that might inspire a career in architecture or engineering, but instead I have return to my reality. I ring a stupid bell and ask my children to come to the carpet so that I can teach children who can't speak a grammatically correct sentence how to write a book. Faulkner, Morrison, and Dickens wouldn't hardly approve.
I truly hate teaching.
Nothing is worse than having twenty children tell you that they want to play, or go back to daycare, and all that you can do is tell them to take out their social studies books, WHY DO KINDERGARTEN CHILDREN HAVE HARDBACK SOCIAL STUDIES BOOKS. What genius orders a book for a group of children who learn by doing, that they can’t write in. WHO DOES THIS?? Why do they even need social studies books, or science books. THEY CAN’T READ!!!!
How many picture books or storybooks could be purchased for the price of one textbook?
Instead of teaching through play, I spend my day forcing round, square, and other shaped pegs into mismatched holes, and walk away feeling even angrier and more defeated than then day before.
I think that this is day 35/180, and I truly have no idea as to how I will make it until May. I see myself as no greater than a criminal, because I am helping to rob children of something they will never regain. Their childhood.