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.