How much freedom do you have?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by terptoteacher, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    How much freedom do you have in your day? Are you bound by pacing guides and lock step teaching? ( must teach the same lesson as all the other teachers in your grade level) what are your opinions on this?
     
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  3. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    I teach HS History in a school where no one else teaches the same thing as me at the same time/during the same semester. Thus, I pretty much have unlimited freedom and no one is too worried about me following the pacing guide. Although, while I have textbooks, there is no curriculum for me to use so I am on my own in regards to making up activities/handouts/worksheets everyday.

    I like not having to co-plan with others or follow a pacing guide, but sometimes I wish I taught English or Math because they have explicit curriculums given to them where the daily activities, handouts, worksheets and tests have already have been created for them to use. For me, finding and creating daily activities/homework assignments/worksheets takes a lot of time and is a major headache.

    Our English teachers use a curriculum called SpringBoard and they are very closely monitored in regards to pacing, following the curriculum and using the activities in the workbook to the T. Same thing with our Algebra and Geometry teachers who use a specific curriculum that the school bought for our math teachers.
     
  4. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I am thankful for the freedom I have to use my professional judgement and discretion in my planning and teaching.

    We must create and submit timetables and year plans, but are not bound by these. I am free to teach whatever outcomes from the curriculum when I choose and how I choose, as long as I cover them. I definitely collaborate with my grade level team, but we are all very different. My students set the pace in my room - I can only go as fast as they can handle, so we work together.

    I think pacing guides and lock step teaching take away from the creativity we possess to meet out students' needs. Classes are not 'one size fits all' and there were plenty of things I did not attempt last year because my students couldn't handle it. Academically I had way more challenges last year than I do this year. Teaching isn't as simple as following a guide - we need to monitor students' understanding and engagement constantly and try to meet their needs, which means we need to be able to go 'off script'.
     
  5. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    My schedule as far as which grade levels I work with at which time was created for me. One thing that I liked about that was that teachers can't whine to me about their sped time, because I didn't create it. On the other hand, in the past I have ability grouped students rather than grouping them by grade levels, and I wish I could still do that even if it makes the schedule a lot more challenging. I only get 45 minutes per day with each grade level and I have to teach reading, writing, and math to most students. It adds another layer of difficulty to try to differentiate within the same group of kids for vastly different ability levels.

    As far as what I teach, I create the IEP goals so I have a lot of freedom there. My district has provided me with several different intervention programs. Their philosophy is that they provide us with the resources to teach and we can do what we want with those resources. I am using some programs fully, using parts of other programs, and not using some programs at all. I love my district's policy on this. The programs have good resources so it's nice to have them, but I don't think it's right for kids when people are so stuck on following the program with "fidelity" that they just read the script regardless of data/academic feedback/different student needs.

    Last year I taught 3rd grade and at first I enjoyed having a math and reading curriculum because all of the resources were laid out. We weren't required to follow it with absolute "fidelity" and we could go at a pace that we wanted. However, after a few weeks of school my P decided it didn't align with common core and we got "in trouble" if we were following the pacing guide exactly or only using the curriculum. I found that to be very frustrating because expectations were very vague- they told us we weren't allowed to use the programs but they wouldn't tell us what we were actually allowed to use. It was extremely frustrating!
     
  6. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    Oct 5, 2013

    We have district provided curriculums that aren't completely aligned with the common core however we've been "asked" to teach to them with fidelity.
     
  7. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Until a few years ago, we had a pacing guide, "instructional minutes" that dictated the exact times each activity was to start and end, and a mandate to adhere to "curriculum fidelity.

    We had to turn in lesson plans that matched all of the above, and there were "reading coaches" who would come in your room at any time with your teacher guide and a copy of your lesson plans and sit and follow the script. The superintendent of curriculum and instruction hired the reading coaches. The principals were all then ordered to tell their teachers they had to do whatever the reading coaches said to do.

    Our principal actually told a parent in a meeting (I was in the room) that she liked to walk by two rooms and hear one teacher begin a sentence and hear the teacher in the next room finish the same sentence. A week previously, she had denied saying that.

    The problem was that a good teacher couldn't even do all of this if they tried. The Open Court lessons we used were never the same length from day to day. If you maintained "curriculum fidelity" and taught the whole program, you would either have to throw out the instructional minutes or the pacing guide. You might be able to follow the instructional minutes and the pacing guide if you cut out (or on some days supplemented) the Open Court curriculum.

    When I addressed this problem to the admins at our school, I was told I just needed to teach faster.

    Much of this changed with the departure of three district level administrators. We still have a pacing guide, but we can modify the curriculum as much as we like in order to meet the needs of our students. We also have a lot more freedom to set up our day in ways that make sense, like having direct instruction in reading and math in the mornings and guided and independent practice in the afternoons\

    Unfortunately, the school I was at until last year never got that memo. So now I'm at a different site, and much happier.
     
  8. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    We just have a curriculum map we use to follow but can modify if we feel necessary. There are 6 teachers in my grade level, while we follow the same curriculum map you will only find two people teaching the same lesson (me and my partner who plan lessons together). On the other hand, the structure of our lessons must be the same across disciplines
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Each year we tweak our syllabus to allign with the coming school year. (Our trimesters go September to Christmas, Christmas to Easter, and Easter to June. As Easter moves around, it effects things.)

    That's about as limited as we get. I need to cover the material within that trimester, at whatever pace I choose.

    That said, we're constantly checking in with each other, and are seldom more than a few pages apart. We share worksheets.

    I checked in with the other Honors teacher the other day, and we were on the same topic. It's kind of rare that we're that much in synch, but it does happen.
     
  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I could have written exactly the same words.
     
  11. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Because my school (Not district, just my particular high school) believes in CFAs for everything, I don't write my own unit tests. All teachers of the same subject take the same test on the same day and no one but the team leader who writes it sees it until the first day its given to students. Therefore, we have to stay on pace with the rest of the team.

    So, we have to teach X, Y and Z by certain date, but how we teach it, in what order, etc is up to us. The unit calendar is made up over the summer, but we get to create it as a team, so we still have a lot of freedom in how long we need to teach each unit, etc.

    So, day-to-day a lot of freedom, but strict adherence to unit plans.
     
  12. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    I honestly am frustrated by the lack of guidance. Our curriculum map doesn't actually have a curriculum on it - just an explanation of what standards need to be covered. So yes, we are free to choose what we want to teach... until our lesson plans are reviewed (new thing this year) and people get comments asking why something is being taught or that something is not high-level enough or too much time was spent on something (not me, but a lot of other people).

    So at this point, I'd really rather that someone told me exactly what they want taught and how they want it done, rather than playing a guessing game.
     
  13. 1cubsfan

    1cubsfan Companion

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    Oct 5, 2013

    At the school I worked at, we had to give the same unit tests, unit projects, and essays. There were also suggested quizzes, worksheets, and lesson plans. I'm a big fan of quizzes, so I often gave more quizzes than the other teachers, which was fine. We had dates set for each unit, but it wasn't a big deal if some classes were a few days behind.
     
  14. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I teach a class of gifted third graders in a school where the "base school" would qualify for Title I services if not for the gifted center. Officially, I have to be completely lock-step with our pacing guides, but ultimately, nobody really cares that much what I do as long as my kids all pass the tests and most of them pass advance.
     
  15. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Freedom in teaching means a lot to me. I have never used pacing guides or lock step teaching. I want to make learning interesting and relevant to the students. I avoid schools that don't respect teachers and believe in the nonsense of pacing guides like the plague.

    I have a lot of freedom in how I teach. I am held accountable to teaching the standards for the CCS, state standards, and my private school "district" standards. How I do that is up to me. I can use the books as much or as little as possible. This freedom with accountability has been a good match for me. I also believe it is the best way for teaching in general.
     
  16. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Oct 5, 2013

    My grade level created a pacing guide together, so we are on the same math lesson and ELA lesson every day. Our curriculum lends itself to that. We use Saxon for math, which has a series of numbered lessons, so it makes sense that we are on Lesson 22 one day and 23 the next. We use Treasures for ELA, and Treasures is actually organized by "unit 1, week 1...unit 1, week 2" etc. We all follow the same schedule of ELA in the morning and math/sci/ss in the afternoon, but that's because of when our recess/lunch/specials are. Also, I strongly believe ELA should be first thing in first grade.

    Within that framework, we have freedom. For example, each week of Treasures covers different skills. Last week, we covered complete sentences, plural nouns, words with short a, and our story structure using two different stories. The days and ways we teach those things are up to us, as long as we are covering the skills addressed that week.

    As a second year teacher, this way of teaching doesn't bother me at all. It's comforting to have enough structure set up that I don't feel lost, but enough freedom that I feel I can make decisions about how to instruct my particular class.

    My school HIGHLY respects its teachers, more than most I have worked in. I take offense to those who say having pacing guides demonstrates a lack of respect for teachers. California seems to be on a different wavelength than much of the country, at least in the low income/high ELL areas I have always worked in.
     
  17. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I'm the only one who teaches my classes (English 10, English 12, AP English). I have complete freedom as long as I'm meeting the standards. I love it! I can't imagine teaching anywhere else.
     
  18. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I have a lot of freedom, and I love it. I could do well with a very strict curriculum, pacing guide, etc, but in the past 2 years everything has been up to me, as long as it was based on standards.
    Alternative ed. provides a lot of freedom and wiggle room.
    I'm the only English teacher at my school, I teach grades 9-10 and 11-12 in the same classroom (2 each). So as long as I follow the standards, I'm ok. I can use the textbooks, whichever one (currently I've been using the English 2 textbook for all classes, but I change the objectives and activities) or not use any at all.
    We'll be doing some novels next quarter, but they won't be the typical high school novels, because the kids probably couldn't handle it. I'm not talking down about them, they're smart kids, but they can be overwhelmed and intimidated by big stuff. So I chose a novel that is actually very small and short and is relevant to them. It's about their population, ethnic background, even geographic location. It will probably take 2, 3 weeks max.

    I really like it this way, because I learned that with this popuation we have to be very flexible, and at times I might just have to take a complete turn in direction to keep things up, and if I was forced to follow a specific course, it would make it very hard on all of us.
     
  19. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Yeah, I think that's way too vague a statement. Obviously those people don't know how pacing guides work in ALL places-just in the places with which they have experience.

    We use a pacing guide, but we as a team develop it. I love knowing that my team is in the same area of history at the same time because we can share ideas, assignments, etc. We all have very different methods of teaching, but great to know that in an emergency, someone can help me out with something relevant.
     
  20. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Exactly. I think maybe that's the difference. My team developed our pacing guide as well. Maybe if it's handed down as a mandate from admin or the district it would feel different and less respectful of teachers. Our admin says we must have one, but we make it ourselves, as a team.
     
  21. mcqxu

    mcqxu Comrade

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    Oct 5, 2013

    I have unlimited freedom in my curriculum as the only PreK-5 foreign language teacher in a private school, but the parent/admin expectations are still very high as student progress throughout the year goes - I get to choose how to implement that and there is very little questioning behind my teaching material and technique. This can be good and bad, I think, I sometimes feel like I hold myself to a MUCH higher standard, go to unnecessary weekend trainings, etc. (which my school definitely supports) trying to find out everything that is going on in the foreign language ed field but I really have no one to answer to or consult with curriculum-wise most of the time. No one has observed me formally in at least a year.
     
  22. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    This is the one good (and bad) thing about teaching self-contained special ed in my school. On the one hand, I designed the curriculum pretty much myself using school resources and many of my own. No one really tells me how or what to teach as long as I am following the standards.

    The bad thing is that no one really tells me how or what to teach as long as I am following the standards. ;) No one else in my school does exactly the same thing that I do so I have no team. I have to do everything myself including planning and finding resources.

    Depending on how you look at it, it's either a good thing or a bad thing.
     
  23. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    I'm not a gen ed classroom teacher. I have more freedom. I created my schedule how I want & the environment is very laid back. In fact, no other job of mine will be this laid back & casual.
     
  24. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I have pretty much total freedom as to pacing, style, resources, lesson plan....as long as I'm teaching the required content and managing my students.
     
  25. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I agree that having pacing guides does not show a disrespect to teachers. I think forcing teachers to use pacing guides is less respectful to teachers than letting them choose times where it might be best to deviate from the pacing guides.
     
  26. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    In both public and private schools where I have taught, teachers receive an estimated amount of minutes to teach each subject/week. This has been very helpful to me. Example: 250 minutes/week for math. Do you get this as well?
     
  27. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    In music I can do pretty much whatever I want. I follow state standards and benchmarks, but admin wouldn't even know if I wasn't doing that. I have to plan all of the curriculum entirely on my own and no one checks up on me.
     
  28. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    We have an expected amount of minutes for reading, math, writing...those guidelines were established by teachers.
     

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