This school year has been especially challenging. Education is definitely changing as the government gets involved more and more. It is sad really. I feel like the nine months I spend with the kids is no longer memorable for them. We are just jamming things down their throat, assessing more than teaching, and pulling them in so many separate directions.
What happened to themes, units, and integrating. I no longer create. Instead, I am basically handed a script that i must follow. I have to teach things in a specific order with a specific time frame and use common activities and common assessments.
By Friday of this week, I just felt so squashed, my enthusiasm gone. The focus along the way has been taken from the students. Now it is all about collecting data, assessing constantly, paper trails, and covering everything quickly instead of covering a few things well. Don't misunderstand me- collecting data and assessing are essential to be an effective teacher. I get that, but when it gets in the way of actually teaching and creating lessons, it is a problem.
I know cutting with scissors, developing imaginations, and learning to play appropriately cannot and will never be tested on some high stakes test, but that is important stuff. I have never seen a group of third graders who cut worse than the ones I have now. And although that may not seem like a big deal, it is. That shows me that we no longer have time to create art, to have fun.
I have been teaching for a little less than 10 years, and I am shocked at how much has changed since then. No Child Left Behind has not helped. Some kids just aren't going to be at grade level reading and that is okay! They may be really good at other things. What is wrong with that? Now we are being audited by the state, and we are required to write the common core standard next to each of our lessons in our plan book. How is that helping me be a better teacher? How is that doing any good for the students. Do you know how long it took me to do that? I had to look them all up and my lessons hit multiple strands. Instead, I could have been giving effective, timely feedback on my students' writing.
Just let me do my job! Let me teach my students! Let them have a memorable year where they created something cool, learned a ton, and had fun.
I am not sure why people go into teaching these days. It has changed so much. What other job do you make less than when you started. What other job do yo earn a master's degree by taking classes that you have to pay for and then hardly make any money. I didn't go into teaching for the money. I went into it because I love kids. I love creating things and organizing things. I love getting kids excited about reading and learning new things. I love making them laugh and showing them that it is okay to make mistakes. I love helping them discover their strengths and their weaknesses. I love my job- teaching kids. . . I just hate all the other crap that comes with it- the crap that doesn't help me be a better teacher or help the kids learn better. The crap that is coming from the state.
Saturday, December 01, 2012
Saturday, November 24, 2012
When I recall my past Thanksgivings, I realize just how much time has passed by the people who are no longer present around the table or who are new additions. . . some new traditions and old ones missed.
My mom loved Thanksgiving. She loved having all of her kids gathered together. I remember coming home from college and being so excited. As TJ came into the picture, he too had a place in our traditions. One distinct one I remember is he and my mom making apple pies in the kitchen. My mom wearing her blue robe, laughing and TJ obediently following her orders. Jered would help a ton on the actual Thanksgiving Day (which, at my mom's was always the Friday after). He made the best mashed potatoes (now my husband makes the best mashed potatoes). We always had broccoli and cheese (later this turned into Diana's garlic steamed broccoli), sauteed mushrooms, mashed potatoes, Turkey, stuffing, labored over gravy, and some other stuff. It was all made in my harvest gold and avocado green kitchen on appliances of the same colors. The pies would sit in the white china cabinets, the table cloth would be on the table with the napkins in their rolls. My mom was real excited when she purchased a thermal gravy boat.
Then, as TJ and I began dating and then marriage, we increased the number of places we had to be. We needed to go to my aunt's to them and my dad, then to TJ's house (where he eventually took over cooking much of the meal), and then to my mom's on Black Friday. Instead of shopping, I was helping my mom with the preparations. After my mom passed, we did Thanksgiving at TJ's parents and then went to my aunt's for desert.
Then Camryn was born. That set up some new traditions. We didn't want to travel across the state with a three week old baby, so my side of our family said they would be more than happy to come to us and to bring much of the food. My brother, Jered, helped TJ a ton that year. Jason made homemade giant pretzels and we have tried deep-fried turky, grilled turkey and, of course, oven turkey. The grilled one wins hands down every year. Aunt Carol and Uncle Mike always bring delicious bread and sea foam salad. Now that Camryn is older, my family still prefers to travel to here. Jason and Whitney have made it an annual thing to fly in at Thanksgiving. Aunt Carol and Uncle Mike drive across the state. Dad drives south. Now that Jered has a girl friend, we are seeing less of him, which is understandable. It is difficult to juggle family visits. With this new tradition, we greatly miss the Ellis side of our family. I often wish we all lived closer to one another. It would allow us to cram more visits with different people in.
The night before Thanksgiving, Jaely and Camryn get a bath and get to use their bath crayons. Jaely wrote Mama, Papa, and Camryn on the tub.
Grandpa was the first to arrive. It was perfect timing. The girls were getting antsy and we had some stuff to get done that is easier to get done when the girls have some new entertainment.
The next day, Jaely immediately began asking when people were coming over. We tried to keep them entertained. I think the 50th time she asked me, I handed her my phone and told her to call uncle jason! Until their arrival, we built lots of things with blocks.
Some thoughts and memories make me sad and kind of melancholy. There are people I miss greatly because they are either gone or eating somewhere else, but it is cool to see how families change and new traditions are started. Jaely knows Thanksgiving as the holiday when family comes over, especially her Uncle Jason and Aunt Whitney. Who knows, maybe there will be another addition to our family next year.