Drowning?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by pamms, Nov 15, 2005.

  1. pamms

    pamms Comrade

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    Nov 15, 2005

    First I want to say that I apologize for the fact that I tend to only visit this board when I am looking for help or when i am getting frustrated and feel the need to 'talk' to some other teachers. Sooo, here I am...I just want to know if it is just me, just my grade group, my school, my county or my state..
    Do you ever feel like you are just drowning in this job? Our state, Florida, talks so much about how badly they need teachers, yet they seem to be doing everything they can to drive us away. It is hard to actually tell how much is state, county or school related, but it does tend to trickle down. Today, I was bopping along, enjoying my teaching day, and then..the teaching part of the day ends...and meetings, read emails, look at the ever growing stack of 'to do' papers and papers and more papers (AIPS, IEPS, parents waiting for conferences, Dibels (more testing), sent to training, learned about more required training for a computer program we won't even be able to use because we don't actually have the equipment in our room, etc, etc...) and I feel just overwhelmed with it all. I know I am not completely alone...my co-workers feel the same...but I still can't help but feel like I am somehow just not cutting it. The paperwork and non-teaching parts of the job have become a fulltime job in their own right! I got online to look for a specific worksheet and happened upon several websites where people have put together these elaborate and creative plans. When do they have time to do this???? Yes, I could be working on something right now, but then..I DO have a right to have some evening time and weekend time that isn't dedicated to school, right? It just so often feels like we (teachers) are drowning and then the 'powers that be' keep tossing us bricks.
    Is it just me?
     
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  3. Rosieo

    Rosieo Enthusiast

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    Nov 15, 2005

    Do not worry you are not alone. Sometimes I wish I could just close my door and teach and forget about all of the other political stuff that goes on with teaching. If I could just teach and not worry about paperwork, testing, conferences, parents, principals, email, and meetings I would love my job so much more.
     
  4. teacherlissa

    teacherlissa Comrade

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    Nov 17, 2005

    What teaching? You actually get to teach? We have the exact same problem here in Kentucky. So now you might throw in the federal government level. It is a rough, rough job. I just wish the people at the top would step into my shoes for one week. Just one week to see my life and how much I HAVE to devote to my teaching.
     
  5. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Nov 17, 2005

    I have really felt like that this year. I have changed grades and instead of having the summer to get ready for the new grade I spent it writing unit tests and curriculum for the old grade. Now I feel like I'm trying to swim upstream. I'm hoping for some time next week to maybe catch up and feel a little more steady on my feet.
     
  6. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Nov 17, 2005

    Let me assure you gals that this is not unusual for many people in many professions these days. I hear it from people all of the time...if they could just do their "job" and be left alone. It's not just teachers...it's the time we live in.
     
  7. Ali

    Ali Companion

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    Nov 18, 2005

    I completely understand and agree with you . This year, I have vowed not to take work home, that time is for my family. Instead, I go to school 1 1/2 hours early to get my work done. It started out great but now I feel I am falling terribly behind. I can't keep up with the checking and the paperwork and the meetings... It is so hard!
     
  8. mbboss

    mbboss Rookie

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    Nov 18, 2005

    I too am falling desperately behind. I come almost two hours before school starts and stay two hours after and I still can't get it all done. I also work at a charter school where there is even more stuff to do, especially when your principal has been gone on medical leave for the last month and doesn't know if/when she's comming back. I'm looking forward to the thanksgiving break to recoop and relax and try to catch up on stuff a little. Just do what you can and that's all you can do. Good luck.
     
  9. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Nov 18, 2005

    Okay, guys, if you can give up the 'big bucks' and cross over to private school, you will be able to teach with none of the nonsense!! I used to wonder if the lower pay was really worth the tradeoff, but now I know it is.
     
  10. Teacher-AK

    Teacher-AK Rookie

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    Nov 18, 2005

    I feel like there is just as much "nonsense" at private schools. I used to teach at a large private school that had a principal that made decisions without any faculty input. For example, we would spend hours trying to create good classes (mix of students) for the next year and by fall they were completely different and no regard for any of our comments about certain kids were taken into consideration. I am now at a much smaller school, however, I am teaching 3 grades in one classroom, have a principal who has never been a principal before, have to rely on parents for many classroom items, and don't have as many resources as I need. It's a catch 22 wherever you are.
     
  11. 1stferg

    1stferg Comrade

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    Nov 18, 2005

    I really agree with this, Grammy. My husband works for the local power company. He has what is called forced over-time. He has been working seven ten hour shifts every week since the beginning of October. It is a scheduled outage at his plant. They schedule these outages three to four times a year, and they usually last two months each time. The only choice he has is if he doesn't want to work the over time then he is free to leave and find a job somewhere else!

    He does get paid for this over time. That is the problem with teaching. I put in as much over time as he does but I don't get paid anything extra for it. That is because I have a salary and he has an hourly wage. His bosses that are on salary have to do all the over time work too but they don't get paid anything extra either. He has been offered the oportunity to interview for a bosses job but he always turns it down. He's not doing all that extra work and be stuck with just a salary. Makes me think maybe we should be paid on an hourly wage. Even if we took a cut in pay we would make more money in the long run with all the over time.

    But then I am not really into it for the money. Most of what I make I pour right back into the classroom.
     
  12. pamms

    pamms Comrade

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    Nov 19, 2005

    Yeah but...

    Ours is wooooorse (whining voice) ;-)
    I do try to tell myself that it's not just us teachers, but somehow that doesn't make it easier.
    I do know that others work many hours, but ...they either tend to be compensated for it (ex: my sister is in sales...works tons, but makes soooooo much money!) or they are at least 'getting ahead' by putting in the extra effort. There is no 'getting ahead' in teaching (career wise).
    In addition to the hours I feel I have to put in though, it is the stress of always feeling like I am not doing enough for the kids (or my own kid at home) or that someone, somewhere down the line is going to find something I forgot to do and sue me, etc. Our school, and most around here, are huge. Our elementary school has 1100 students. The office staff is small and not able to truly support the teachers.
    We are called professionals, but when I think of other professionals, I don't imagine most of them being their own secretaries, setting up their own appointments, handling their own paperwork, etc. I think it is sad what is happening to teaching. Most people I know are either looking into other job opportunities or just trying to make it to retirement.
    Rare is the teacher who can excel at the office management part of the job AND at being a teacher. Unfortunately, the office management area seems to be more and more important, I hate to think of office managers as being the ones that are left teaching our kids. I want teachers teaching.

    Pam
     
  13. mommaruthie

    mommaruthie Aficionado

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    Nov 21, 2005

    Florida teachers are being rewarded for 'school grade' improvements. OR are being disciplined for FCAT scores NOT increasing. I am teaching towards the state standards, which in essence is teaching towards the test. I LIKE the idea that teachers are being held accountable for what they teach. I think it keeps teachers focused on what is considered essential for their grade level. I want to get my students scores up, I want to receive recognition for staying attentive to the sunshine state standards but WHO is going to give me the recognition for my efforts? I spend three hours a day grading papers AFTER school as there is NO duty free lunch, or grading/planning period at my school. I must instruct the special areas and yet I adore where I am at. I love what I do WHEN I GET TO TEACH. The passion, the interest, the enthusiasm is there. If there is a child who will not pass the FCAT, it IS NOT a fair indicator of what I have or have NOT taught! Yet I am held accountable!

    Hang in there. I know there is an accountability even in private schools.
     
  14. 5thgraderocks

    5thgraderocks Companion

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    Nov 23, 2005

    :( Accountability (as well as merit pay) are really scary alternatives. I work 24/7 and each year I know the kids show growth. Merit pay would probably raise my salary BUT ... who will want to teach the EBD students, the kids from lower income areas of a district, kids whose parents aren't there to support our efforts, etc? We need to be careful what we wish for!! I have off tomorrow (Thanksgiving) and Friday. There are advantages to the long hours!
     
  15. pamms

    pamms Comrade

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    Dec 11, 2005

    accountability


    Right. I don't mind being held accountable for the things I can control, but there are SO many variables in schools and in kids and families! It just seems like more and more is being dumped in the lap of the teacher (in the form of paperwork and in the name of accountablity). Forms are filled out stating that a child (MANY of them) have special needs in some area...but...oh, by the way...our school doesn't offer any of those special services, but you better be sure YOU have them for each kid in YOUR classroom. It's getting close to a time when all the kids will have their own AIP, or IEP, etc. I am at an "A" school, with affluent, involved parents (a blessing and a curse) but about 1/3 of my homeroom kids are 'special needs' in some way. Guess who will be at fault if I don't do something listed on one of those forms? I have been trying to get one student's IEP changed for a couple months now because it doesn't address his real academic needs. It is a big puzzle as to WHO I am supposed to talk to (keep getting shuffled and put off..."we'll look at it and get back to you", the ESE person is only there a couple mornings a week (Ok..I'll just take the morning off to come talk to her???)...sigh anyway....Give me the tools and support I need and then I can be held accountable.
    Pam
     
  16. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Dec 11, 2005

    I have a problem with merit pay. I have no control over what kids come into my room each year. My principal makes up the classes. He knows I won't complain and that I do well with the "different" kids. I always have the lowest achieiving class. Do they grow while I have them? Sometimes. Sometimes it's all I can do to keep them levelled out. Another teacher I teach with is the "star" teacher. She gets all the teacher kids and all the requests. (We are ability grouped for the classes we swap for, out of 20 in the first (highest) group, 14 of them are hers.) I don't mind getting the different kids. I really do seem to be able to control them much better than the other two. But, don't hold my class up to theirs and then pay them more because their kids do "better". I consider it a success if a week goes by without R or C going to the office, not just based on do they make passing grades.
     
  17. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Dec 11, 2005

    I almost forgot, when merit pay arrives, you can bet you will have some teachers cutting corners to make sure their class does better. I worked with 2 teachers last year who made sure their classes passed the end of the year test (which is what they are talking about basing our merit pay on) with flying colors. Strangely enough, these kids that blew the door off the test can't do anything in 5th grade. How did they pass? The teachers were willing to bend the rules, smudge the truth, or basically cheat. I'm not. Ok, I'm off my soapbox for the moment!
     
  18. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Ok, so I'm not ready to step off yet. It just makes me angry to even think about education reaching this point. It would be the equivalent of saying, the kids that score an A on a test get extra recess, prizes, etc and that those that score anything less get nothing. We would NEVER do that. Why would we be willing to do that to teachers? Assess me, make me accountable. Come in and watch what I do. I have no problem with that. Make sure that I continue to educate myself through classes and professional development. But don't say that because my class didn't score as high as another I'm not doing my job. There's just no way at all that is fair.
    Ok, I think I'm through now!:rolleyes:
     
  19. luvmykids

    luvmykids Companion

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    Dec 11, 2005

    You are so not alone!! All year I have felt like I was drowning in a big third grade mess. This is my first year in my own room so I have really had to prove myself to my parents and our new principal. Not to mention the new evaluation system we have in place. I have had to create a new portfolio that will be evaluated at the end of the year as my formal evaluation. So I have had to figure third grade out, worry about test scores on top of the normal day to day stresses and put this portfolio thing together to prove that I am doing my job. When I think about it I feel like I need anti anxiety meds.
     
  20. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Dec 13, 2005

    This insane amount of paperwork and workshops
    and meetings will only stop when good teachers and
    the rest finally stand up and say "Hey you idiots, it may look
    all nice and pretty from your big white buildings in Tallahassee
    but in the real world its just more BS paper to push". Let us
    teach. Tell us what you want them to learn (we've got a pretty
    good idea) and assess it with a common sense test. I've taught
    in Fla schools for 26 years (mostly PE) and watch all the great teachers get more and more frustrated with all the extra nonsense
    demanded of them. Its bad enough that the starting pay and salary scales say "we dont think you are very important". Teachers need to start talking and writing letters to govt. officials and expose all
    this stupidity and time taken away from the real reason for teachers.
    To teach and help kids learn, grow and succeed. Paper pushing is
    insane.
     
  21. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Dec 13, 2005

    Where in FL are you?
     
  22. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Dec 15, 2005

    I work in North Fla. Bradford County.
    Hey, my little Title One school jumps through
    all the hoops and crosses all the Ts and Dots the i(s).
    We have been an A school 3 years in a row and also
    made AYP.
    But its still laregly and dog and pony show taking
    away from the important curriculum.
     
  23. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    North Florida still hasn't been ruined like South Florda has. How many kids in your school? I teach in a private with just 84 kids, K-8th. Now that is small. We don't have to worry about our school being graded, thank goodness.
     
  24. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Starting this year I do PE for two schools in this county.
    I did PE at one of them for 21 years and now I split it.
    One school has about 110 kids and the other has about 180.
    Great size to really get to know the kids. I am teaching lots
    of children whose parents I taught.
     
  25. cingy

    cingy Rookie

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    Dec 16, 2005

    I agree that there needs to be accountability and I feel lucky that in Vermont our testing has not taken on the high stakes feeling that other states are...yet. The job is exhausting and exhilerating. Each day at luch I take a walk with a colleague (which is essential for me to reinvigorate for the afternoon) and we discuss the crap with which we are each contending. By the end of the walk, we both still say that we love the job, warts and all. I am also blessed with an administrator who is not overly obsessed with the testing and is a good listener. When I am feeling stressed, we talk about it then she says, "Suck it up. Teaching is a hard job." and she is right but I still love it.

    Karen
     
  26. pamms

    pamms Comrade

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    Hmmm, I'm not sure what you mean by 'ruined'. I teach in north Fl. (actually I once taught in Bradford County). I'm in Clay County. We have approx 1100 kids in our elementary school. pretty typical for our county now. I've said it feels like a kid factory. The kids and their scores are our product/commodity We might as well stamp the kids FCAT scores on their foreheads as they walk down the hall...ya know 'quality control'. ;-)
     
  27. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Dec 17, 2005

    Awwww.....my fantasy is now ruined.
     
  28. munchkin

    munchkin Cohort

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    Dec 19, 2005

    Okay ChristyF, you've just got to read a "letter" from inspiringteachers.com... their inspiration section. It was posted, sometime early spring. It talks about a dentist having to go through a review based on the satisfaction/results of his patients dental health and compared to other dentist in the area. He protested that his "clients" aren't from as affluent of an area as some, and therefore not as "educated " in dental health.... anyway it was hilarious. If I can I will find it and put it in the general education section.... Yeah, this accountability sucks, especially when it is implemented by people who have no clue as to what a classroom teacher does daily now a days.... not that they weren't ever teachers, but do they have current experiences in a classroom???? I think not.:cool:
     
  29. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Wasn't that posted on here around that time? I loved it. I'll try and search here for it.
     
  30. readingisgood

    readingisgood Rookie

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    Dec 19, 2005

    Just to play Devil's Advocate: aren't most merit-pay systems based on gains and not raw scores?

    In other words, if you work in an affluent school which scores in the 90th percentile in a district, and I work at a community school which scores in the 50th percentile in the same district, noone is going to reasonably say that you should get paid more based on your class's scores this year versus my class's scores this year. That's clearly unfair. But to look at disaggregated data over a period of time, and to see that data show that students in your class tend to improve their scores by 10 points over the course of a year in your class while mine improve by just 3 points over the year with me...doesn't that reflect directly on your teaching style? And won't the knowledge that good teaching resulting in a relative rise in scores can earn me more pay incite me to get cracking?

    I work in an urban school district, and I can tell you that many teachers in the low-income community schools here are just sliding along. There's no incentive to try and overcome the odds against them, so they don't bother trying. But if their pay were tied to the amount of progress they can inspire in their students -- not a raw test score, mind you, but an amount of progress-- it's an interesting idea.
     
  31. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Is this it??

    "Did you hear about the new state program to measure effectiveness of dentists with their young patients?" I said. "No," he said. He didn't seem too thrilled. "How will they do that?" "It's quite simple," I said. "They will just count the number of cavities each patient has at age 10, 14, and 18 and average that to determine a dentist's rating. Dentists will be rated as excellent, good, average, below average, and unsatisfactory. That way parents will know which are the best dentists. The plan will also encourage the less effective dentists to get better," I ! ; said. "Poor dentists who don't improve could lose their licenses to practice."

    "That's terrible," he said. "What? That's not a good attitude," I
    said. "Don't you think we should try to improve children's dental health in this state?" "Sure I do," he said, "but that's not a fair way to determine who is practicing good dentistry." "Why not?", I said. "It makes perfect sense to me." "Well, it's so obvious," he said. "Don't you see that dentists don't all work with the same clientele, and that much depends on things we can't control? For example, I work in a rural area with a high percentage of
    patients from deprived homes, while some of my colleagues work in upper middle-class neighborhoods. Many of the parents I work with don't bring their children to see me until there is some kind of problem, and I don't get to do much preventive work. Also, more educated parents who understand the relationship between sugar and decay. To top it all off, so many of my clients have well water which is untreated and has no fluoride in it. Do you have any idea how much difference early use of fluoride can make?" "It sounds like you're making excuses," I said. "I can't believe that you, my dentist, would be so defensive. After all, you do a great job, and you needn't fear a little accountability."
    "I am not being defensive!" he said. "My best patients are as
    good as anyone's, my work is as good as anyone's, but my average cavity count is going to be higher than a lot of other dentists because I chose to work where I am needed most."

    "Don't get touchy," I said. "Touchy?" he said. His face had turned red, and from the way he was clenching and unclenching his jaws, I was afraid he was going to damage his teeth. "Try furious! In a system like this, I will end up being rated average, below average, or worse. The few educated patients I have who see these ratings may believe this so-called rating is an actual measure of my ability
    and proficiency as a dentist. They may leave me, and I'll be left
    with only the most needy patients. And my cavity average score will get even worse. On top of that, how will I attract good dental hygienists and other excellent dentists to my practice if it is labeled below average?"
    "I think you are overreacting," I said. "'Complaining, excuse-making and stonewalling won't improve dental health'...I am quoting from a
    leading member of the DOC," I noted. "What's the DOC?" he asked. "It's the Dental Oversight Committee," I said, "a group made up of mostly lay persons to make sure dentistry in this state gets improved. "Spare me," he said, "I can't believe this. Reasonable people won't buy it," he said hopefully.
    The program sounded reasonable to me, so I asked, "How else would
    you measure good dentistry?" "Come watch me work," he. "Observe my processes." "That's too complicated, expensive and time-consuming," I said. "Cavities re the bottom line, and you can't argue with the bottom line. It's an absolute measure." "That's what I'm afraid my parents and prospective patients will think. This can't be happening," he said despairingly. "Now, now," I said, "don't despair. The state will help you some." "How?" he asked. "If you receive a poor rating, they'll send a dentist who is rated excellent to help straighten you out," I said brightly. "You mean," he said, "they'll send a dentist with a wealthy clientele to show me how to work on severe juvenile dental problems with which I have probably had
    much more experience? BIG HELP!"
    "There you go again," I said. "You aren't acting professionally
    at all." "You don't get it," he said. "Doing this would be like grading schools and teachers on an average score made on a test of children's progress with no regard to influences outside the school, the home, the community served and stuff like that. Why would they do something so unfair to dentists? No one would ever think of doing that to schools."
    I just shook my head sadly, but he had brightened. "I'm going to
    write my representatives and senators," he said. "I'll use the school
    analogy. Surely they will see the point." He walked off with that look of hope mixed with fear and suppressed anger that I, a teacher, see in the mirror so often lately.
    If you don't understand why educators resent the recent federal
    NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT, this may help. If you do understand, you'll enjoy this analogy, which was forwarded by John S. Taylor, Superintendent of Schools for the Lancaster County, PA, School District.
     
  32. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    readingisgood - but isn't that the crux of the problem? How to measure progress? The difficulty is that most sane teachers know that progress can't be measured en masse.
     
  33. readingisgood

    readingisgood Rookie

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    Dec 19, 2005

    Yes, absolutely, and good point. And the regular problems with widely-applied testing are exacerbated by cultural and economic factors that weigh certain tests in favor of certain populations.

    Still, it's an interesting concept for encouraging poor teachers to get better, good teachers to become great, and great teachers to stay that way. I know many fabulous teachers who are on a slow slide toward marginalism because there's little encouragement from within the system to keep up their breakneck work. Yes, helping our students ought to be enough reward, but we are human and it's hard to keep plugging away year after year for the same pay as people who barely skate by.

    I wonder how successful a merit-based bonus system would be in public school systems?
     
  34. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Motivating teachers isn't really a different problem than one that occurs perennially in big businesses. Linking that with student achievement as measured by standardized tests, though, is where it breaks down. We don't live in a world that can take the time to individualize assessment of progress, at least in large institutions.
     
  35. TeacherC

    TeacherC Connoisseur

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    Reading this I am wondering...how are your being assessed? This year, our district is pushing "data driven collection"...which means we have to keep track of every score with pre-tests and post-tests and samples and so on and so on. As a LTS, I am doing it all, much to the delight of the principal (and dismay of my husband who barely ever sees me without the computer or a stack of papers). So last week, when we had a "meeting" with the principal, I heard the other grade level teachers talking about how they were making up all their data the day before thier meetings, and basically picking numbers off the top of their heads just to look good in the meeting. I know that this "data" stuff may not be the best thing to help the students, but it makes me so mad that some teachers don't even put the effort into it.
     
  36. munchkin

    munchkin Cohort

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    Dec 20, 2005

    Yea-.uuusss! That's it!:D Now if we could just paste it on every rabid superintendent's , education board member's and state legislator's head with their occupation inserted as needed....:cool:
    Liked that one alot. Had seen it posted in several teacher workrooms in the schools where I work as a sub...;)
    Try going on the www.inspiringteachers.com for other inspiration/comedy for a good laugh, its well worth the 15-30 minutes of therapy.
    Munchkin
     

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