Feel like I'm letting my kids down

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by TXforever, Sep 5, 2015.

  1. TXforever

    TXforever Companion

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    We're told to not teach anything we're not tested on. We're not tested on anything other than reading and math. I try to slide in science and social studies when I can, but I'm kind of afraid of being caught teaching it because my admin is so freaked out about scores. My poor kids. I feel like I'm failing them. :(:(
     
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  3. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    First of all, if you are in a public school, you should be teaching social studies and science. I'm not sure how Texas's tests are (I'm assuming you are in Texas), but in Michigan, the 5th grade science test and 6th grade social studies tests are cumulative. They could test anything from 2nd grade and beyond. (I also taught in North Carolina and they did not have social studies tests and the science test was for 5th grade material only.)

    If they continue to put that pressure on you, integrate them. When I taught 2nd grade I had a literacy block and a math block. My literacy block was focused on the science and social studies content. For example, weather was a big component of the curriculum. I used texts like Thundercake and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs along with dozens of non-fiction weather books. We created our own weather instruments and everything. (Reading directions is still literacy!) In social studies, we had an economic unit. I read aloud Lemonade War and they read various non-fiction books. We did a big project where they created their own product to sell. They had a budget for supplies. They shot a commercial to advertise their product (writing component- they had to write scripts) and they were able to shop in the other classrooms. All in my literacy block.

    When I taught 5th grade, I was departmentalized and only taught science and social studies. The reading/ELA teacher actually used the social studies book as a reading textbook. I did more hands-on, project-based activities with current events thrown in. I had never used the social studies book before anyway (because I prefer the hands-on) and she needed more non-fiction to use. It worked perfectly.
     
  4. TXforever

    TXforever Companion

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    I'm thinking about just going rogue and doing it on th DL. I'm not a parent yet, but I really want my child to have a well rounded education experience. I'm not giving my kids that. If I get in trouble for teaching something other than math and ELA, so be it. I'll just have to figure out a way so that it's not blatantly obvious, lol.
     
  5. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Integrate as much as possible like Giraffe suggested. It's harder to make sure you have all the TEKS taken care of, but finding ways to connect them to your math and ELAR lessons is not that difficult when you look at your year and where natural connections will fall.
     
  6. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Some of the older professional journals and texts in "literature based" education would have lists of appropriate books for integrating math, science, and social studies. Also, booklists at the library are sometimes categorized. (I've often Googled such lists, too).

    My current thinking, as helpful as standardized tests are for teachers, I often wonder what's more important. Are we losing our mission, to educate and facilitate the growth of students and replacing our mission with political agendas?
     
  7. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    There are more and more schools doing exactly this. It's a result of the testing fetish that has been put into place. I'd be careful trying to sneak it in. That's a good way of getting on your administrator's bad side, which as a first year teacher would put you on the fast track to nonrenewalville.
     
  8. Ms_C

    Ms_C Comrade

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    As a fellow Texas teacher this makes me angry that your admin would put you in that situation. Last year I taught 5th grade science and was evident that 4th grade didn't teach half of what they were supposed to teach. Readworks.org has a lot of great reading passages that are leveled and you can choose per subject.

    Since you are only tested for math and reading, I'm guessing you teach 3rd? If so please make time for writing!!! 4th graders are so unprepared for writing. Next years teachers will thank you. In my district our third grade teachers were actually told that you must teach writing because kids need two years of solid teaching in something to be successful in it.
     
  9. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I am big on thematic units. I have taught that way for years (20 plus). When Common Core came down the pipe our principal decided everyone would do 90 minute reading block and 60 minute math blocks. She had rules about what happened in that solid 90 minutes. I teach 6 year olds...they can't do anything for 90 minutes...you might as well say 90 years. I tried it her way for two weeks and ended up in her office in tears. She calmly shut the door and said "That is what you need to do. Shut the door and do your thing! I wasn't talking to you." I wanted to scream, but I am a rule follower and I was doing what she said to do. I say do thematic units!
     
  10. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Look up your state ed code. It probably says in there someplace that you need to teach all subjects, not just reading and math.

    If your admin is telling you that you can only teach reading and math, they are probably violating the ed code. Moreover, I think that there are some ethical issues as well.

    Now, you might be able to argue that science, social studies, art, and music can be integrated into the reading and math. But that depends on the curriculum that you have to work with.

    Also, look at what they are tested in later grades. If they are tested in science and social studies at any point in school, then they need a foundation in those subjects.

    And finally, if you look at recent trends and research in education, we should be getting away from this whole "reading and math all the the time" mindset.

    Your admins may very well be on the wrong side of history.
     
  11. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/ED/htm/ED.28.htm

    Sec. 28.002. REQUIRED CURRICULUM. (a) Each school district that offers kindergarten through grade 12 shall offer, as a required curriculum:
    (1) a foundation curriculum that includes:
    (A) English language arts;
    (B) mathematics;
    (C) science; and
    (D) social studies, consisting of Texas, United States, and world history, government, economics, with emphasis on the free enterprise system and its benefits, and geography; and
    (2) an enrichment curriculum that includes:
    (A) to the extent possible, languages other than English;
    (B) health, with emphasis on the importance of proper nutrition and exercise;
    (C) physical education;
    (D) fine arts;
    (E) career and technology education;
    (F) technology applications;
    (G) religious literature, including the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and New Testament, and its impact on history and literature; and
     
  12. TXforever

    TXforever Companion

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    Totally agree 100% with everyone has said. I'm not in TX any longer. I'll just have to figure out how to make it work. We have to build our own curriculum, and I'm tired. Looks like lots of Googling and TPT time this long weekend. I'm really torn, though. I just don't want the powers that be think I'm not doing what they told me to do. :unsure:
     
  13. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    I honestly think that you have a professional obligation to call them out on the ethics of what they are doing. Forcing you to only teach what is on a state mandated test is very self serving on the part of the administration. They are essentially denying students a significant part of their education in order to bolster the test scores needed for them to look good to their superiors.

    That is probably not legal and definitely not ethical.

    If you don't feel comfortable bringing attention to this matter on your own, then start looking for a ally who can go to bat on your students behalf.
     
  14. TXforever

    TXforever Companion

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    I agree with everything you said. I'm not tenured, and TBH I'm afraid of p!$$ing admin off by rocking the boat. All they care about are test scores. I'm not a teacher to them. I'm a person who better produce results. Everyone is a percentage of passing number. The dynamics of my school are odd.
     
  15. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Make sure each lesson has something to do with reading and math. A science experiment can have lots of math data in it and lots of measurement. Also it can have vocabulary. Social Studies can have lots of vocabulary terms and use of math in timelines and graphs. I would teach the items you should such as Social Studies and Science, but make sure you put in writing on your whiteboard, SMARTBOARD, or elsewhere, how the lesson is linked to reading and math.
     
  16. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    In theory, I agree with you. In reality, I think the OP will accomplish a whole lot more by "flying under the radar" and not showing his/her hand. I have known for years that if I let admin. know how I really felt about tests and not teaching to them, I would get away with far less than I have these past several years. If a P knows you are against them, even when you are right, it will not go well for you and they will be much more likely to try to catch you going against policy.
     
  17. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I truly feel the need to add an administrator's point of view:

    As far as test scores are concerned, I sometimes feel as though I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    Twice each year, my principal and I have to present (to the Board) on the goals of the school and whether or not we've met each particular goal/standard/objective. Many of the objectives have to do with test scores. If we have not met a particular goal, we have to have an action plan in place. It is very disheartening and quite frustrating--especially since many of the targets are unattainable (considering our population).

    Although I'm big on integrating STEAM into the curriculum, I'm constantly worried about the kids' test scores.

    How our kids' perform on tests is included in our yearly evals. Additionally, we are reminded several times each year that we're at-will employees (so they can dismiss us at any time for any reason).
     
  18. TXforever

    TXforever Companion

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    What is your advice for me? :help:
     
  19. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Are you tenured?
     
  20. TXforever

    TXforever Companion

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    No, this is my second year at this district. One more year and I will be.
     
  21. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    My advice is to grin and bear it until you're tenured.
     
  22. TXforever

    TXforever Companion

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    I think you're right. :(
     
  23. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    I would agree with above posters, too, that you need to be cautious about your position. Your concern demonstrates that you are an excellent teacher, and to lose your ability for rehire would keep students from benefitting from your expertise.
     
  24. TXforever

    TXforever Companion

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    You have no idea how much I needed to hear those kind words. No. Idea. Thank you. :)
     
  25. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I always integrate my science and social studies outcomes into our ELA block. There just isn't enough time in the day to get to all the outcomes. Math and science go hand in hand and a good theme was always needed in my ELA time or I felt like we were flitting between skills without any connection. I'd encourage you do to what Giraffe suggested and use your science units as themes for your ELA and math. I get that you don't want to rock the boat, and at the end of the day, your admin calls the shots. But you clearly see the need for science and SS and I would encourage you to find ways to include it in your ELA and math instruction if possible.
     
  26. Bibliophile

    Bibliophile Companion

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    If your state is using common core there is a great emphasis on nonfiction books that you need to be reading to meet a ton of standards that will be addressed with smarter balanced testing, I would do as giraffe said and use nonfiction texts in my ELA block that connect with you science and social studies. Some standards require reading multiple accounts of the same event and comparing and contrasting them. This screams history unit on an event or time period where you can read multiple sources about it and write an opinion piece with textual evidence that would show reading comprehension and it would show their understanding of the time period.

    Teachers pay teacher has mini units that can help you do this.
     
  27. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Yes, in your situation integrating is the way to go. That's actually what common core is shooting for and in the long run it will help your students when it comes to applying what they learn.

    I wonder if your school board, district leadership, and the community are aware of what the administrators are telling the teachers to do. To actually say "don't teach anything that's not on the test" qualifies as educational malpractice in my opinion and actually ranks up there with the Atlanta educators who falsified test scores.

    I'm not saying you need to become a rabble rouser as an untenured teacher. But somebody at your school needs to call them out on this.
     
  28. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    It makes me sick that this is STILL happening. When I student taught in 2010, I taught at a school that did the same thing because they had just entered program improvement. The district bigwigs came traipsing through everyone's classrooms once in awhile to make sure everyone was lockstep with their demands.

    I agree - integrate! If you are building your own curriculum (my school is the same way), you actually have a huge advantage because you can integrate to your heart's content. That's where I would start. Find some historical fiction for literature standards. Use nonfiction based in your science and social studies content for the informational standards. Absolutely NOTHING your admin could find wrong with that, since you are still teaching the ELA standards.
     
  29. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    OMG. Program Improvement (or PI as we so lovingly referred to it) was the bane of my existence. They (the district) expected each grade-level team to be on the same page in the TE at the same time. I still shudder when I think about it. :dizzy:
     
  30. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    While I don't disagree with the suggestions to integrate, it's still sad that it is the best option. It's hard to imagine many better ways of ensuring a child grows up hating science and social studies than by teaching it solely through Language Arts methods and integration.
     
  31. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Alright. This is hard to say because I LOVE history and social sciences.

    However, we are under SO much pressure to have kids improving in reading and math that I, myself, have wondered why I'm teaching social studies. We're required to, so I have the opposite problem. No one really checks up on our social studies, though, and a lot of teachers skip it.

    I'd like to get rid of all testing because I hate that it makes certain subjects way more important than others, when kids have all kinds of strengths. I want to do art and social studies and plays and all of the things that used to make school fun. I hope we get back to that.
     
  32. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I agree with the above posters to integrate as much as possible. I'm not longer in the classroom, but in my position, testing is huge so I understand the emphasis on it. I don't agree with that emphasis but it is what it is.
     

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