Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Affirmation and Fanning My Little Flame

I went to visitation for a teacher pal's father. This man was a great guy, fought the fought, lived a full life, and produced one of the best teachers I know.  May he rest in peace.

Since my teacher pal is wildly popular, well loved and a lifelong local gal, going to the visitation necessitated I spend time chit chatting and catching up with my colleagues.  How many times was I asked if I was coming back?  How many times did I say I was uncertain?  What a liar!  I know full well I am not going back.

There.  I said it.  I meant it. I mean it still today.

The content of the chit chat and catching up was affirmation I have made the right decision.  It is the same old crap as when I left.
Only worse.

Many of my pals were scheduled to spend two days in an expensive training for PBIS.  Another fad recipe approach to school wide behavior management.  Check it out if you like. It is simply common sense marketed. Expensive in dollars as well as time.

By now you all know I don't cotton to any recipe (even in my kitchen) excepting Social Thinking as that is truly a gifted program for kids on the spectrum when used appropriately.  This resistance to following a recipe may be a real fault at times.  But it serves me well as a teacher.  I take time to know my kids.  I take time to understand their strengths.  I take time to build meaningful relationships with each of them.  I constantly gather thoughts, opinions, information, theories, strategies, tools, methodologies that might help the kids.

EBD kiddos have a multitude of issues.  Learning, behavioral, self-regulatory, emotional, and comorbidity or mental health issues.  They are not comfortable at school.  They are not comfortable at home.  They are not comfortable with peers.  They are not comfortable in their own skin.

My job is to make them comfortable enough to learn.  We all know that the learner is most effective when they are calm, comfortable, feeling safe, are not in states of deprivation, and believe they can learn.  Manipulating them to conform through points and levels does not make them feel safe. 

Learning is risky business.  

So, back to PBIS.  How does that help the kids on the fringe?  It doesn't.  But, that is what my district has decided to do with stimulus money.

So there is one issue.  Another is that they have yet to figure out what to do with my favorite student of all time.  Director tells principal that he is taking the lead on this one.  HUH?  Where has he been all year?

And another issue is that the district has decided to start a ONE YEAR EBD program in one of the elementary schools.  Really?  I suspect they are just trying to find a place to put my favorite student of all time for the one year remaining before middle school.  They don't know what they are calling this program, what its purpose will be and who it will serve.

I could go on and on.  I will spare you.  Bottom line is that we are victims of very poor management.  The mediocre top keeps recruiting and promoting the mediocre underlings to join them downtown.  Mediocrity breeds mediocrity but that mediocrity expects perfection from teachers and students per high stakes testing scores.

Too much wrong, too late in the game, too many kids being left behind.  Public schools aren't any longer what they were intended to be.  I, for one, am not going to let them go down without a huge fight.  We can do this, people  We can make public schools what they should be.  We can. 

We have to.

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Although I am dangerously opinionated, I am a flexible thinker and welcome your thoughts.