Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A TU Effort at Transparency

TU regulars may have noticed a slight decrease in our productivity.  We pride ourselves on our ability to churn out quality thought provoking material or more often posts that are slightly below mediocre. But this has been a tough stretch with a noticeable decrease in the volume of posts we are writing.    It is not writers block, it is something else. First off the Hunger Games came out, the premier of Mad Men, there's the whole Supreme Court review of "Obamacare" thing and of course we mustn't forget the NCAA tournament.  In the words of the Bandit(from Smokey and the Bandit) "I can't lie to you Sheriff, you're too good man."  Truth is we are just really busy teaching. 

We're not quite a s popular as these folks, but we do eat.
Sitting around the lunch table as we do, the simple fact is that we are a suspicious bunch.  The modern world of education has conditioned us to the readily understood reality that there is more to most things than meets the eye.  Most “reforms”  have some underlying motivation or are far more complex than they appear on the surface.   The devil is in the details.  What on paper and in public is represented as a great idea is seldom as advertised.  Hard to argue against the intended effects of No Child Left Behind.  Hard that is until you stop and ask a seasoned teacher.  One who is willing to share an honest and open opinion based on years of feet on the ground experience. This often occurs when they are at ease, like during lunch.  Many things in education lack the necessary transparency to avoid missteps and problems.  SOL tests and their development, state and local education budgets, Value added, common core standards, tenure reform,  are among those that could use a little fresh air.  Such is also the case for the basement where we work.    If we are one thing in the basement at lunch I think we could be described as open and honest.  Brutally so.  So today’s post is an effort to shed some light on what happens when we discuss happenings between bites at lunch.

Teacher #1 only eats only "juice"
As background, you must know that whenever teachers hear about new plans or mandates there is an immediate rush to explain things.  As experienced teachers we are now programmed to execute a well-established analysis of the unforeseen consequences for most new ideas. It is hard to explain since we by our very nature are not completely cynical.  Our lunch crew is no different.  Most teachers' work or lunch rooms have negativity in excess.  Not us.  In an effort to offer the outside world transparency here is how it might play out.    For the purposes of illustration I will abridge and refine the dialogue.   This not an effort to avoid transparency,  just protect the innocent…or at least those that eat lunch with us.    It also will help you to follow the sometimes odd and rapidly shifting conversation.

Teacher #1-"Hey you guys read about the vote about such and such?”

Teacher #2 -"Yeah, dude. That’s an effort to improve scores.”

Teacher #3 -“No.  No its not.  It’s cause you are a horrible teacher..”

Teacher #4 -“No it is actually because the politicians have an agenda and this will provide evidence that they are doing something to reduce costs and further weaken the organized teacher .  That legislation stems from

Teacher #1 “So what does this mean locally?”

Teacher #2 “I can tell you what it means to my students.  More testing.”

He's in everything.
Teacher #3 “Michael Ironside”

I mean they look
Teacher #4 “I read this book and the basic premise was that privatization is the natural progression of those seeking to remove inefficiencies caused by overburdening legislation and growing complexity caused by the demands to step away from standardization and uniformity.”

Teacher #1 But aren’t they passing more legislation?”

Teacher #4 “Yes”

Teacher #3 “Nope. It was Michael Dudikoff.  He is skinnier than Ironside”

Teacher #4 “Wasn’t he in…?  Anyway that’s the beauty and idiocy of the situation.  Governments strapped for cash that is needed, but taxpayers are unwilling to pay and are forced to seek alternative and potentially more efficient and flexible methods and approaches as part of global and social change.” 

Teacher #1 “But won’t the end result likely be a reduction in quality caused by a greater demand placed on students and teachers?”

Teacher #4 “Yes”

Teacher #2 “So you are sure about this?”

Teacher #4 “I read this other book and it said …”

Teacher #2 “No, not that, you’re sure it was Michael Dudikoff?”

Teacher #3 “Oh yeah no doubt.  He was in total recall.”

Teacher #1 “Nope it was Ironsides”

Teacher #3 “Yep you’re right”

Teacher #1 “Man, This stuff just makes no sense.  It boils my blood.”

Teacher #3 "Michael Ironsides boils your blood?  Why?  He’s a great actor.”

Teacher #1 “You know what I mean.  It is just demoralizing.”

Teacher #2 “Sure it is.  What are you gonna do quit.”

Teacher #4 “Yeah you should quit.  Seriously, you're are not that good.”

Teacher #3 “Don’t quit.  Just stop coming. That’d be epic.”

Teacher #5 "I made this podium"

(awkward period of silence)

Teacher #2 “I’d like to think someone would notice if I didn’t show up.  Wouldn’t they?”

Teacher #3 “Michael Ironsides would notice.”

Teacher #4 “Point is we just need to try and convey to the public and decision makers that some of the reform ideas we encounter have little to do with us, but greatly affect us.  It makes teachers less able to perform well as educators”

Teacher #1 “I gotta go set up for my discussion seminar next period”

(student delivers a pass)

Teacher #3 “I taught him last year.”

Teacher #2 “Great kid”

Teacher #4 “I have him now and had all four of his siblings”

Teacher #1 “He is smart.  Works hard too.  Makes teaching worthwhile”

Teacher #2 “So you’re not quitting?”
( 27 Minute lunch ends as Teacher #1 exits)

Teacher #3 “I had dibs on his desk chair”

1 comment:

  1. Teacher #6 has the highest Value Added score.