Problems: Specialized programs, admin, etc.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Caesar753, May 6, 2013.

  1. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I teach an uncommon foreign language. My program is limited in size because I'm the only one who teaches it. There are only so many seats available, and that will never change.

    I have pretty high continuation numbers, i.e., students keeping up with the language and moving to the next level. The problem is that my initial, lowest-level course enrollment numbers are low. This is because the students who sign up for the lowest-level foreign language classes are incoming freshmen--currently enrolled 8th graders at different schools. I don't ever have a chance to go "sell" my program to them, and most of them have never even heard of my subject. Most of them end up signing up for one of the other, much more common foreign languages because those are familiar to them whereas mine is not.

    In the past, the counselors have randomly selected a few students who enrolled in the other foreign languages and just put them in my class instead. This has happened because 1) my numbers were too low and 2) the other languages' numbers were too high and the kids would end up moved to other electives anyway. This hasn't really been a problem because usually I've been able to get students to fall in love with the subject and continue with it. They just needed a chance to figure out what it was first. :lol:

    The problem this year is that we have a new admin that seems hesitant about changing the students' registrations. I'm not sure why, because they will have to move those students anyway because there aren't enough seats in the other foreign language classes. To make matters worse, admin has discovered that I'm licensed to teach another specialized elective. They want to give me those classes--ALL of those classes--to help alleviate a scheduling problem that impacts an entire grade level. While I understand their predicament, I do NOT want to teach that elective. I want to teach the subject I have been teaching, the subject I'm good at teaching. Had I known that admin would be considering moving me into a completely different department, I would have looked at the transfer vacancy list much more closely this year....

    I have always been someone who is willing to do what is asked of me and who doesn't complain (at school). I think it has finally come around to bite me, because now I think that they're going to just use me for whatever they want without regard for my opinions. I am very frustrated, almost sick over the matter. Aside from the fact that I just don't want to teach this subject, I also know that if I do it will mean the end of my foreign language program. The program will be destroyed without current students--if there are no level 1s this year, there will be no level 2s next year....I have worked so hard to build that program, which is strong even though it may be small. I could just cry.

    I don't know if I'm looking for advice, commiseration, or a wake-up call.
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    :hugs:, Caesar.
     
  4. Cicero

    Cicero Companion

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    Oh no! Why do bad things always happen to such a good language. A teacher I know started basically running PR for her program to lure in rising freshmen. She had students go to her feeder middle schools to meet students and meet with groups to inform them about the subject, and also had her club set up on any visitation days for MS students. This really helped enrollment.

    For now I hope is that your admin sees the error of his ways. :(
     
  5. Math

    Math Cohort

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    Aww... Caesar. :hugs: I don't understand why the administration has to bother with what has worked already for so long. However, you know some people consider doing some crazy things. Some administrators need to think about their career before they stepped into that role.
     
  6. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Is it too late, Caesar, to set up a middle school visit? Or have they already chosen their electives? That way, you could take a group of your kiddos to help you "sell" your program!

    Either way--hugs! I can tell you're passionate about your subject area! :hugs:
     
  7. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    My school is hiring a latin teacher, and our enrollment numbers are UP, UP, UP!
     
  8. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I'm upset for you at just the thought. Have you talked to admin about your honest feelings?
     
  9. Math

    Math Cohort

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    Move to New Jersey Caesar! :) Become a New Jerseyian. :lol:
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    They have already registered. Besides that, it's just not done for teachers to go to middle schools and promote programs. School counselors and a team of student ambassadors go to the middle schools to talk to rising freshmen about what high school is about. If I could do it, I would, but I can't.
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    New Jersey has always been a HUGE state for my subject. There are about 12 states where I know I could get a job if I moved. The problem is that my hoosband is on the job hunt right now, so I'm limited to wherever he lands a job. His field is also highly specialized, so his job search could take years. I'm so hoping that it doesn't, because I don't want to deal with all this baloney at my current job....
     
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I have not yet, but I plan to. I am off tomorrow, so it'll have to wait until Wednesday at the earliest. In the meantime, I'm going to just be sick about this whole thing. :(

    I really don't know what my admin is going to tell me. They are obviously perfectly within their rights to assign me to whatever classes they want, as long as those classes match my license. I would hope, however, that they would value my opinions and preferences. My fear is that they will not, because I'm not one of the "chosen few" and they might view me and my program as expendable.
     
  13. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Caesar, I know of at least one expert in language and test taking who is firmly of the opinion that even one year of Latin contributes enormously to better reading and writing. Students who are redirected to your classes are almost certainly being done a favor, whether they realize it or not.
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    You don't have to convince me of that.... :)

    I just wish that there were a clearer connection between my students' work in my class and their proficiency test scores. It seems like only the English and Math teachers get the credit for good scores, even though I know that I've played a significant role. This is why I will likely never support evaluations or teacher salaries based on test scores.

    ETA: Do you have a link to any research that supports this? Maybe I can use it to convince my admin to make a better decision.
     
  15. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I wasn't trying to convince YOU, dear... but if you need a quote for your admin, PM me.

    Anecdotes, I've got. Many years ago I missed exactly one vocabulary question on the PSAT/NMSQT, and to this day I can tell you exactly what the word was because it was the only one I didn't know: it was Greek, not Latin, for the roots and affixes I'd learned in a year-plus of Latin meant that I knew cold or at worst could eliminate stupid alternatives for every other word that showed up on the test.

    Language-other-than-English (LOTE) teachers deserve a huge share of the credit for students' good test scores, because it's in the LOTE classroom that most of us finally really make sense of grammar.

    Let me do a little rummaging online...
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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  17. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Thanks!
     
  18. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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  19. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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  20. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I am so sorry to hear that this is happening to you.

    I know from reading your posts that you are a good communicator and if anyone can get through to admin, it would be you. Somehow they have to see your passion and see that you are right on this one.

    Good luck to you.
     
  21. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Spend your day tomorrow building your arguments.

    Do you have any colleagues who teach English or Math that would be willing to share info with admins about how your courses help with their test scores?
     
  22. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I plan to. I'm already gathering research. I'm trying to analyze the data on my own students but I don't have access to all the data I need because I'm "just" an electives teacher. Frustrating.

    I really don't feel like any English or Math teacher should have to talk about how my class helps test scores. My word should be just as valid as theirs. Furthermore, I'm sure they're all too happy to take the credit for my students' high test scores....
     
  23. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Most estimates of the amount of Latinate vocabulary in English peg the range at 50% (for educated but not particularly erudite vocabulary) to 90% (for highly technical topics). Even the lower figure means that Latin is a huge help in kicking open the terminological door. Couple this with the oft-related observation (for which I regret that I can't come up with a source) that truly acquiring a given word generally requires about ten exposures: if one already knows one or more of the morphemes in the word, clearly one has in some fashion already been exposed to at least part of it. The words bellicose, belligerent, and antebellum all share the Latin root bellum/-i 'war'. Conversely, I can count on a giggle from my adult students when I explain that the word Senate can loosely be glossed as 'bunch of old farts', since it shares a root with senile.
     
  24. teresaglass

    teresaglass Groupie

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    Maybe Caesar you could convince them they need Latin for science.
     
  25. Cicero

    Cicero Companion

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  26. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Caesar---I'm so sorry for you. This is just silly. Hopefully your administration can see the usefulness of the program and allow you to continue to teach the language to the students.

    I would also mention the fact that many students will not have a language if they need to move these students to a new elective. Isn't it a good idea to try to get the students to take a language freshman year so that they can possibly take 4 years of a language (or even three) before college.
     
  27. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Update:

    Looks like someone talked to me before they were authorized to do so. Evidently the whole "swap foreign language for a different elective" plan was just something that was part of a brainstorming session among the admin as they were putting together next year's master schedule. I spoke with admin this morning and was assured that they will not ("Absolutely not! No way!") pull my foreign language classes and swap them with something else. I am so relieved! Fingers crossed that the plan stays this way until the master schedule is finalized.
     
  28. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Just curious, but what elective is it?
     
  29. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I went to a small rural HS in the south. In college, I realized that Latin would have been a great class to have had in HS. To do it all over again I would have certainly found a way to take it (online even nowdays). I actually learned some taking anatomy and physiology.
     
  30. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Driver Education. Not required for graduation, honors diploma, or college entrance.
     
  31. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Caesar---so glad that it was just a case of someone speaking without all the facts. It was good to know it was a possibility (even if it was remote), but glad that it looks like it won't happen.
     
  32. Cicero

    Cicero Companion

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    Hurray! That's wonderful.
     
  33. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Yeah! Hope the good news holds.
    I took four years of Latin in HS, and it helped so much in college and law school.
     
  34. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Amor Latinae vincit omnes, non est? And now you might want to noodle a bit more seriously about selling the benefits of your program (which are indeed considerable, as Missy notes) to the rising middle-schoolers in town...
     
  35. teresaglass

    teresaglass Groupie

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    I am glad they are continuing your Latin program.
     

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