Elementary school reading teachers feel set up to fail, not optimistic about future.

It started at the beginning of the year when curriculums in
reading classes with little notice were shifted down a grade. What kids would have
learned in third they were now going to now learn in second, in first,
second and so on. The district claimed it would bring more rigor. People doing
the actual teaching pointed out, harder and developmentally inappropriate does
no equal rigor.
Furthermore the curriculums given to the teachers could be
charitably described as jumbled messes. There were links to different articles
over different grades to be carried out at different times. There didn’t seem
to be a lot of rhyme or reason but what was consistent was teachers were often
required to make copies.  The state of
copying in the district could be an entirely different post but let’s just
suffice to say this was problematic for a whole host of reasons.
A lot of veteran teachers with years of experience knowing
what does and doesn’t work were able to game the system so to speak and instead
of following the poorly thought out mandates gave their students the instruction
that they needed to the best of their ability. Newer teachers or teachers being micromanaged at the transformative
schools however weren’t so lucky.
The district also promised additional training, help and
resources but none of the teachers I have spoken to said any ever came and now the district has decided to scrap what they have going on now to go
completely on-line next year. Maybe that will be better because it’s hard to imagine things being worse.
I spoke with somebody close to the situation and the
district contends that it is teachers who came to them pushing for the change
and that it will save a lot of money though the teachers I have spoken to have
their doubts.
I haven’t heard of anyone
being in a focus group. And I don’t know a single Primary teacher that was
happy with the curriculum this year. They are saying it is a savings over a two
year period? A textbook adoption is 5-6 years. So no savings if you think about
the amount of copies and materials printed over 5-6 years versus purchasing
textbooks once. Also, the district doesn’t make the copies for us. They send
links. We print out copies on our own and then sometimes put in for copies at
the school. BUT…we buy our own ink for the printers because the district does
not provide it. Also, they aren’t fixing or replacing printers that die out. We
are told to share, and that eventually they want to go to a centralized printer
in the main offices.

Young children K-2 still
need to have books in their hands that are written in their level. We can’t do
everything on a projector screen or on copy paper. Some of the links/resources
they send are long with no pictures. K and 1 are learning how to read. They
need larger print and pictures to provide support. We don’t need lessons
written by former teachers who are now district level coaches, who have no
researched based curriculum writing experience!! The textbook writers are
specialists and professors who know how to help students learn to read!! The
online reading and materials may be good for intermediate grades, middle, and
high school. Primary students need researched based materials and lesson that
build on one another. They can’t tell me that Scott Foresman, HM, or Harcourt
don’t have common core aligned lessons that build in skills.” 

I guess the bottom line is, if the district and the people
doing the actual teaching are not on the same page then we can’t be successful. Though the real problem might be that the district doesn’t seem very interested in getting on the same page.

6 Replies to “Elementary school reading teachers feel set up to fail, not optimistic about future.”

  1. Also you can add that he is only giving the cost of copies. They are still purchasing various books, which aren't in that total. Novel studies, etc for 3-5. Also some other books for K-2 supposedly. But no textbooks that progressively increase in difficulty as students learn to read.
    Also a district friend told me there is a textbook series that meets Common Core, but the district said it is too expensive and didn't want to purchase.

  2. Teachers I know at all levels, elementary, middle and high feel that teachers and students are being set up to fail. It sounds paranoid but its like Vitti is trying to starve and destroy public education. Could be because thats one way to promote charter ed.

  3. We were absolutely set up to fail. We were not given the materials to do our jobs. The curriculum guides were a joke. They were scattered, haphazard, and a "hot mess" to put it lightly. The novels were not selected based on their literary value. They were selected based on their price.
    I have wondered if we are slowly being torn apart on purpose. You have to wonder about that considering the decisions being made…..

  4. Well, we only have class sets anyway. Try teaching 1984 with only class sets. You'll never finish. Most older classics though are cheap. God forbid we get those.

  5. 1984 was a beast to finish. I had a class set and the kids skipped class half the time, without any consequence of course, which made "finishing" it impossible.

  6. And when the Times Union asks dcps if there is a textbook shortage, they deny it and say of course not, because they are defining enough textbooks as having a class set. Reading a novel like 1984 requires every student have his or her own book. A class set is not sufficient, and then we look like the idiots because we either can't finish or are quickly bringing it to an end to say we did. Typical dcps policies.

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