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[teacherartexchange] The Start of Another School Year


From: Richard Gross (ralight_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Aug 23 2008 - 09:27:47 PDT

The Start of Another School Year

This last week school started for us. We had 2 days of “staff development”, then on Monday we have a teacher workday (get your classroom together), and then Tuesday will be our first day with students.

After the first 2 days, it doesn’t seem like we’re getting the new school year off to a good start. The first day started off with a district meeting about classroom management with the focus on how to get students to be quiet in class. I felt I was back in Ed. 101. The second day ended with an afternoon presentation by the ADL (Anti Deformation League), we had a racial incident at our school last year, in a very hot library without AC or proper ventilation. In between the first morning and last after noon presentation, we were peppered with all sorts of bureaucratic policy instructional lectures and one “break the ice” group exercise.

At this point I should give a little background about myself. This is the 6th year I will be teaching at this school. I am mid-50’s and have gone thru a mid life career change. I teach the subject I got my original degree in and worked in that field for 25 years. When I started taking classes for my MA in Ed. I had to write a paper about what kind of teacher I wanted to be. I wrote a one liner. The kind of teacher I wanted to be was like Sidney Poitier in “To Sir With Love”. I now understand the cliché “be careful of what you wish for”.

I walked away from the experience feeling down and depressed.

And I figured out why….

In the first two days of the school year when teachers and administrators came together (some for the first time) we told about classroom management, bureaucratic policy and procedure and how to recognize and deal with racial issues. That’s basically it!

Where was the motivation talk by our Principal and the uplifting spirit building for the coming year? Why wasn’t any of the good positive accomplishments mentioned or the sincere offer of help and support by administration and district offered? Why weren’t these 2 first days of staff development designed to make us, as teachers feel good about what we do and ourselves?

Please don’t think of me as a negative nay sayer. I’m really not. Looking around at the end of the 2 day session and listening to bits of conversations here and there I was clearly not alone in this point of view. In this day and age I’m glad I have a job that I’m vested in and teaching the subject I know and love. I can’t wait to see my students in class again. Now if only we can do something about the school and district administration!

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