I’m looking for a little help with this. Maybe some of you can be of assistance.
I’m a teacher. My job is to take my vast array of knowledge and help impart it onto my students. But, it’s not good practice to stand in front of a classroom and lecture. (And most of the time I agree with this) In order to help students develop skills, they must be actively engaged in their learning – doing something. Right. Ok. I’m down with that.
So in my English 9 class, that’s what I’ve been trying to do….practice the Writing Process by actually using the process to write. Sounds great, huh? They do the writing, they get feedback on the writing, they revise the writing. They get more feedback. They take what they’ve learned and do it again and again until they’re akin to Shakespeare or King or at least Danielle Steele. And, I’m a rockstar.
But – here’s my conundrum – what happens when the students don’t DO. They don’t write the draft. Or, they start it (three or four sentences worth) and instead of finishing it for homework, the paper serves as the napkin for the greasy poptart that gets left in the bottom of the locker. What am I supposed to do with that, people? How can I help them improve their writing if they don’t write?
And I know I’m not the only one. My BFF Jeanday is teaching AP English where the students have to read. How can she help them improve their reading comprehension and analysis skills if they aren’t reading?
And yet, our omniscient government has decided that, ultimately, if my students don’t show improvement in their writing from August to May then the logical conclusion is that I’m a sucky teacher. Sure. That makes sense.
This is such a logically sound concept that the state (and maybe the Nation – I’m not sure because instead of keeping up on the news I’m hounding freshmen about turning in their homework) is going to make us teachers link ourselves specifically to students to determine our level of effectiveness. Ooh. I’m all-a-twitter. I can’t wait for that.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a prediction. The students at private schools will score better. Their teachers will be labeled Accomplished and Effective because of the students’ scores. What the general populous doesn’t realized, however, is that private schools have the luxury of only educating the students they want to educate. You cause problems? Go to public school. You don’t excel? Go to public school. You don’t care about your education? Go to public school….where the scores are lower because the teachers are crappy. And then we will draw the conclusion that public schools in America are ineffective.
Yeah, there’s no secondary agenda going on there. Not at all. It’s not like the proponents of education-for-profit are trying to undermine public schools in this country. Not at all.
As a serf in the machine of public education who actually cares about doing something significant, maintaining a shred of integrity and striving for excellence, how do I deal with the clustermuck that the legislators have created for me?
I’m hoping you can take the time to think about it and give me a good answer. For now, I’ve got a freshman to badger about turning in an essay.