Okay, I had to take Halloween weened off to digest everything. (Plus, a pumpkin’s worth of candy. And my daughter thought I was making her look all cutesy for her sake. HA! It was a ruse to dupe my unsuspecting neighbors out of their chocolate! Worked like a charm, too.)
Anyway, so what have I learned?
Well, we gotta lotta pink elephants.
Pink Elephant #1: When an admin makes the master schedule it seems they pretty much go along with the following playbook. They…
- Identify the best teachers and cherry pick the classroom placement of these folks.
- Identify the Lemons and try to put them in a location where they’ll cause the least amount of damage. (OWCH!)
- Slot in all the other teachers primarily basing this placement on what that person taught the prior year.
- Fill in all additional holes. (This is where the newbies come in… new hires usually get the “leftover classes” in case anyone is wondering why the first year teachers often get 4 different preps at 3 different grade levels with kids who often are the most academically and behaviorally challenged.)
I think point number 2 about how admins often identify the Lemons and then try to put them in a location where they’ll cause the least amount of damage (to test scores, that is — it’s not even kids they fret so much about… it’s their own butts!) is the most damning of all the “placement of teacher” practices. And it’s why teacher tenure is under such fire. The Lemons are being protected in ways that seem unnatural and all the solid educators I know wish the Lemons would move on more than even the regular public does — cause these Lemons are tarnishing all of us and doing crazy damage to our kids.
However, the way the newbies get tossed into their assignments also is cause for alarm. Like an alarm that should have been pulled 25 years ago because it seems like this practice began long before I was at the front of my own classroom. But I still see it going on around the country all the time.
Too bad the teacher education programs can’t stand up for their own students more, huh? Or the veteran teachers who know what awaits these newbies? Or the admins who make these schedules in the first place? Or the districts that do the hiring? Of the folks at the State Dept of Ed. Look, we are all complicit when lambs are tossed into the lion’s den for am I not my teacher’s keeper?
Not in most American public schools, you’re not… or so it seems.
Like I said earlier… OWCH!