HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Economy & Education » Education (Group) » Confessions of a ‘Bad’ Te...

Sun Mar 4, 2012, 01:56 PM

Confessions of a ‘Bad’ Teacher

I AM a special education teacher. My students have learning disabilities ranging from autism and attention-deficit disorder to cerebral palsy and emotional disturbances. I love these kids, but they can be a handful. Almost without exception, they struggle on standardized tests, frustrate their teachers and find it hard to connect with their peers. What’s more, these are high school students, so their disabilities are compounded by raging hormones and social pressure.

As you might imagine, my job can be extremely difficult. Beyond the challenges posed by my students, budget cuts and changes to special-education policy have increased my workload drastically even over just the past 18 months. While my class sizes have grown, support staff members have been laid off. Students with increasingly severe disabilities are being pushed into more mainstream classrooms like mine, where they receive less individual attention and struggle to adapt to a curriculum driven by state-designed high-stakes tests.

On top of all that, I’m a bad teacher. That’s not my opinion; it’s how I’m labeled by the city’s Education Department. Last June, my principal at the time rated my teaching “unsatisfactory,” checking off a few boxes on an evaluation sheet that placed my career in limbo. That same year, my school received an “A” rating. I was a bad teacher at a good school. It was pretty humiliating.

Like most teachers, I’m good some days, bad others. The same goes for my students. Last May, my assistant principal at the time observed me teaching in our school’s “self-contained” classroom. A self-contained room is a separate classroom for students with extremely severe learning disabilities. In that room, I taught a writing class for students ages 14 to 17, whose reading levels ranged from third through seventh grades.

more . . . http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/04/opinion/sunday/confessions-of-a-bad-teacher.html?_r=1&ref=global&pagewanted=all

13 replies, 3630 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply Confessions of a ‘Bad’ Teacher (Original post)
proud2BlibKansan Mar 2012 OP
longship Mar 2012 #1
Yooperman Mar 2012 #2
Smarmie Doofus Mar 2012 #5
Hissyspit Mar 2012 #7
proud2BlibKansan Mar 2012 #9
Smarmie Doofus Mar 2012 #10
Post removed Mar 2012 #3
seattleblah Mar 2012 #4
Starry Messenger Mar 2012 #6
1monster Mar 2012 #8
Smarmie Doofus Mar 2012 #11
JDPriestly Mar 2012 #12
Smarmie Doofus Mar 2012 #13

Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Sun Mar 4, 2012, 02:27 PM

1. I retired for the same reasons

NCLB has been a tragedy for the teaching profession. It literally does nothing to increase excellence in teaching, preferring to cast any and all blame on fine teachers who because of NCLB are forced to teach to cookie-cutter standards, the situation in the state, district, school, or classroom be damned.

Mark my words, we will eventually regret that it was ever put into effect, if that time has not already come. Indeed, there are many in the profession who think that that time has long past.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Sun Mar 4, 2012, 02:31 PM

2. Great Article...

Many of the things he mentions my wife can confirm. She has taught under poor administrators who have evaluated her teaching even though they have NEVER taught in front of students themselves. Giving her ludicrous ideas they expect her to conform too.

Any teacher will attest to the fact that what you learn about teaching from a book is a lot different than the actual task.

YM

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Yooperman (Reply #2)

Sun Mar 4, 2012, 04:28 PM

5. Weird how no one even *mentions* the quality of administrators.

 

Despite the fact that THEY, and not WE, control what does and does NOT go on in the classroom.


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Smarmie Doofus (Reply #5)

Sun Mar 4, 2012, 06:04 PM

7. Ssh, you're messing with the 'Blame The Workers' meme.

It's always the workers fault, don't you know? /sarcasm

The massive hypocrisy is amazing, isn't it?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Smarmie Doofus (Reply #5)

Sun Mar 4, 2012, 07:13 PM

9. I've read every single education bill filed in my state this session

Most include at least a phrase about 'teacher accountability'. NOT A ONE says anything about administrators or principals being held accountable. Not a one.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #9)

Sun Mar 4, 2012, 07:43 PM

10. In NYC, they've been gradually bought off.

 

I mean that quite literally. For instance, the city/state lowered our TDA rate... which always was identical to the principals union to 7% return . But they got to keep their 8.25.


They've been bought off in a hundred other different ways too. They come and go as they please. We, OTOH, punch a clock.


Treating them like a semi-privileged class seems to work. Someone's got to do the nuts-and-bolts work of breaking the teachers' union, and if not the building admins.... who?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)


Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Sun Mar 4, 2012, 03:38 PM

4. I will never forgive Ted Kennedy for NCLB

 

I remember screaming at my TV "it's a trap!" when seeing him on CNN pushing for support of the bill he coauthored. How could someone so experienced in politics be so naive? proud2BlibKansan, don't just blame Bush for the current anti-teacher laws.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Sun Mar 4, 2012, 05:55 PM

6. This article is spectacular.

"In my three years with the city schools, I’ve seen a teacher with 10 years of experience become convinced, after just a few observations, that he was a terrible teacher. A few months later, he quit teaching altogether. I collaborated with another teacher who sought psychiatric care for insomnia after a particularly intense round of observations. I myself transferred to a new school after being rated “unsatisfactory.”

Behind all of this is the reality that teachers care a great deal about our work. At the school where I work today, my “bad” teaching has mostly been very successful. Even so, I leave work most days replaying lessons in my mind, wishing I’d done something differently. This isn’t because my lessons are bad, but because I want to get better at my job.

In fact, I don’t just want to get better; like most teachers I know, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I have to be. Dozens and dozens of teenagers scrutinize my language, clothing and posture all day long, all week long. If I’m off my game, the students tell me. They comment on my taste in neckties, my facial hair, the quality of my lessons. All of us teachers are evaluated all day long, already. It’s one of the most exhausting aspects of our job.

Teaching was a high-pressure job long before No Child Left Behind and the current debates about teacher evaluation. These debates seem to rest on the assumption that, left to our own devices, we teachers would be happy to coast through the school year, let our skills atrophy and collect our pensions."

These are the things that a person who has no classroom experience cannot gauge. The constant need to be 'on' all the time, refining lessons so they bring more out of students, dealing with bored and cranky young people who sometimes are not in the mood to learn. A test, a few days observation--how can this bring a fair picture of the teacher?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Sun Mar 4, 2012, 07:11 PM

8. I just saw this elsewhere and was going to post it if it wasn't already.

On the top of the page.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to 1monster (Reply #8)

Sun Mar 4, 2012, 07:48 PM

11. I posted it this morning in GD.

 

http://www.democraticunderground.com/1002381589


And sent a link to Will Johnson ( author) at gothamschools.org.

Looks like he made quite an impression..... judging from the reaction at gotham.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Mon Mar 5, 2012, 04:31 AM

12. Excellent article.

My best teachers, the ones I still think about today, exposed me to new and exciting ideas. They created classroom environments that welcomed discussion and intellectual risk-taking. Sometimes, these teachers’ lessons didn’t sink in until years after I’d left their classrooms. I’m thinking about Ms. Leonard, the English teacher who repeatedly instructed me to “write what you know,” a lesson I’ve only recently begun to understand. She wasn’t just teaching me about writing, by the way, but about being attentive to the details of my daily existence.

It wasn’t Ms. Leonard’s fault that 15-year-old me couldn’t process this lesson completely. She was planting seeds that wouldn’t bear fruit in the short term. That’s an important part of what we teachers do, and it’s the sort of thing that doesn’t show up on high-stakes tests.

How, then, should we measure students and teachers? In ninth grade, my students learn about the scientific method. They learn that in order to collect good data, scientists control for specific variables and test their impact on otherwise identical environments. If you give some students green fields, glossy textbooks and lots of attention, you can’t measure them against another group of students who lack all of these things. It’s bad science.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/04/opinion/sunday/confessions-of-a-bad-teacher.html?_r=2&ref=global&pagewanted=all

I have to say that the trend to characterize a hard-working employee as below par is everywhere -- in all employment situations in my experience.

There is a strategy used by employers that encourages supervisors to include some derogatory comments in job reviews -- so that the employer can avoid claims of breach of contract or discrimination if sued by an employee who is arbitrarily fired.

We need to limit an employer's ability to fire a competent, hard-working employee. It would bring a lot of stability to our economy if employees could count on fairness in their workplaces.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to JDPriestly (Reply #12)

Mon Mar 5, 2012, 06:48 AM

13. +1. In the "old days" ( i.e. 1980's) we'd get glowing letters of commendation at the end .....

 

... of every school year. The letters usually specified some way that you as a teacher contributed to the success of the school that year.
Now they don't do this. ( Unless you write a grant that nets the school a whole truckload of cash or something).

I'm sure at some point admins were told to stop writing the letters because they'd be hard to explain in court or at dismissal hearings.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread