This is from a teacher at a high performing school that has a great track record on the state tests. They point out that the district is making their lives miserable too.
The English dept at my school is extremely successful, high functioning, and full of intelligent, savvy, and fantastic teachers. And we have had control over what happens in our classrooms because our principal treats us a professionals who know what we are doing. This year, though, the district has dictated that we, specifically the 9/10 grade teachers, must follow the gradual release model every single day, despite the fact that gradual release was meant to be applied to several class meeting. Because we are a good dept, we were already employing this strategy because we have had success with it. But we were told in no uncertain terms by our APC and reading coach, under the instruction of district leaders, that gradual release must be followed daily without exception. When we pointed out that this model would ill-serve our students, we were told point blank that “this is what the district wants.”
Then on our planning day, the 9/10 ELA teachers were told that we have to take 30 minutes from our classes once a week and have our students use Achieve. No exceptions. In a nutshell, my problem with Achieve is that the county says it is to have students learn close reading skills, something I already do on a daily basis. When I bring this point up, I am told that Achieve also models FSA…so essentially, we have to teach to the test. I could go on in excruciating detail about my problems with Achieve, if you wish…but for now, I will stop here.
The other problem with the Achieve scenario is that it is not being applied evenly and fairly. Some schools are allowed to have students complete their assignments at home, whereas for our school, anything a student does after 3p will not be counted.
Either way, I choose to tune out all these dictates, and continue with what I know will make my students academically successful.
Speaking for myself, I and my vast teaching experience are being ignored. I would go so far as to say my experience is being purposefully pushed aside for the benefit of producing data. To speculate as to why would be conspiratorial, but I have theories, as I am sure you do too.
I do not have a problem with district initiatives and do not automatically see them as interference. If something is good for the classroom, I have no problem with it. But to dictate to teachers what they should be doing in their rooms, after we have established classroom routines that work for our students, completely disregards our professionalism and shows a complete lack of understanding of just what it means to be a teacher.
Unbelievable right? We are setting ourselves up for failure.