In the midst of trying to perform in a musical (Oklahoma! at the Lake Worth Playhouse) I have been embroiled (great word) in utter chaos and stupidity at school.
This year, oru new $180,000 / year plus Chief Academic Officer, who himself only taught four years in a classroom, decided that he would create a new curriculum system, a new testing system, teams to visit schools to monitor teacher efforts -- all in a matter of 2 weeks time....and implement EVERY new initiative at once. Sounds Great! What?
Teachers are to follow a pacing chart that is more akin to riding a bicycle with no seat through a burning forest with a blind psychotic clown......no sense! I literally have had to teach lessons that used to take a week or so in a matter of minutes. We are totally talking breadth of teaching NOT depth of teaching. During that same period, I have seen students (including the special education students I am in charge of) completely shut down. Not surprisingly, I have seen teachers do the same. I have actually witnessed a few cry at school -- which does not surprise me, because I have as well. With a "Capacity Team" that loves to visit your classroom and observe what you are doing -- they love it most when they can come the last 10 minutes of a school day on a Friday to see if you are still teaching -- and who are intersted more in telling you what you are not doing rather than how you could make things better....my school has become a pressure cooker.
I won't even discussed the mandatory tests every couple of weeks that have been paired with a need to have "data chats" with students, keep a student portfolio, create a word wall, put up lesson information in a "black board configuration" so students know where to find the same info in every class...and know it to the depth and extent that we have to have statements on our boards...."I will"...."We will"....and "You Will".
This year alone..in just over 10 weeks of school, I have taken 5 sick days -- which is uNHEARD OF!
SO...I DID SOMETHING!
The FaceBook Group, Testing is not Teaching has done a great job at organizing parents...AND...educators around the absurdity of the changes. This group is a prime example of HOW Facebook and Microblogging have revolutionized grass roots movements! When our Superintendant woudl announce a press conference on the matter, they would post info on the page....shortly thereafter...the press conference was cancelled. They were able to get over 1200 parents and teachers to do what we have been trying to do for years -- stand up for a common cause! We stood out in front of the school board offices ... waved our signs....and made some noise. The COOLEST part was when the firetruck and firemen went by and honked their horns and waved at us...the know a few things about standing up for your rights. The theme was "Scarey Pumpkin"....the group sends students, parents, and teachers into schools each Friday wearing Orange shirts as a sign of solidarity. People carved pumpkins with sad faces on them and left them at the School Board entrance...I wore my Orange proudly the next day!
We got media coverage...and there was even a hellicopter covering the event! IN the end..more than 100 people spoke at the school board meeting that night -- it lasted from 6pm until after midnight. The next day, the Superintendant called the principals in for an "emergency meeting". He announced he would give them control of their schools.....UNFORTUNATELY, my Principal is chosing to make NO changes. She has made it very clear that our input is not necessary...nor is it wanted.