Friday, April 20, 2012

Going Dark

I'm going offline for the night; I'm just ... bleh.


I'm burdened with family issues right now and feeling spread too thin.  It's the end of a long week at school, too.  I've been busy on a project with my kids this week that involved giving every single student individual personal and detailed feedback on EOC practice essays (the current standardized test mandated by the State). Now I'm doing the same thing in grading research papers.  My mind is blown.

We're starting Antigone next week and then Julius Caesar.

And yet my governor thinks I'm not doing enough.  Teacher morale is low, low, low right now in Louisiana.

This op-ed in the New York Times resonated with me:

Better yet, we should abandon altogether the multiple-choice tests, which are in vogue not because they are an effective tool for judging teachers or students but because they are an efficient means of producing data. Instead, we should move toward extensive written exams, in which students could grapple with literary passages and books they have read in class, along with assessments of students’ reports and projects from throughout the year. This kind of system would be less objective and probably more time-consuming for administrators, but it would also free teachers from endless test preparation and let students focus on real learning.

Amen, buddy.

But you see, here in Louisiana we now HAVE to teach the test because 50% of our annual evaluation depends on how these kids do on that test.  And if my evaluation isn't ship-shape then I'm in a whole new world of trouble.

I don't want to get on a Jindal-hates-teachers rant right now, but it's bubbling to the surface.  I'm angry.  See Elliott Stonecipher, until I can get my thoughts to gel on that into some coherent post that won't get me fired:

...what Gov. Jindal’s 23-day public education blitzkrieg has been done to so many, many lives is a wrong thing for which there could never be a right time. 

 Yes, and remember, while this "education blitzkrieg" gets underway, we're also moving to a new, untested curriculum standard.  Madeline Cole had a good op-ed in The Shreveport Times this week:

In addition to unfair evaluation standards, our new curriculum should be taken into consideration. Over the next several years, starting this year with pre-k, Louisiana is moving to the Common Core Curriculum. In non-teacher terms, everything your children will be taught is changing to a much more rigorous program that is meant to prepare children for the real world from the time they enter the classroom. I am excited to see this in place. My problem is this: This new curriculum is new to everyone involved. Children, teachers, administration, test makers, law makers. I think it is very unfair that in the same years we have to learn a new way to teach your children we also are getting heavily evaluated. I think there should be some "get to know the program" time.

Oh I know..."good teachers" don't have anything to worry about.  So say the lawmakers who have never been in a classroom.

See.  I'm in a funk tonight.  I'm going to read my new Rick Bragg book on my Android tablet and listen to the slow, soaking rain that is falling.  Tomorrow, the Defenders of Liberty Air Show at Barksdale.  Sunny skies are predicted.

And hey, if you haven't yet...go on over and chip in a few bucks to Joseph the dog.  That dog is a survivor and I'm really pulling for him.


Jayhawk said...

"Better yet, we should abandon altogether the multiple-choice tests, which are in vogue not because they are an effective tool for judging teachers or students but because they are an efficient means of producing data."

They are certainly not an effective tool for judging students. I used to read the book at the first of the school year, skip and/or sleep through class all year, fully ace every single one of these multiple choice tests, and have nothing but contempt for the teachers who gave them. I knew in advance the few teachers who used "essay questions" on tests, and I had to stay awake in those classes.

I once took a multiple choice test administered by a substitute where I had not been in the class all year and had not read the text book, filling in for and posing as a pal who was out of school that day. I knew pretty much nothing about the subject, but I passed the test.

Donald Douglas said...

Actually, I use multiple choice exams in my classes because I have up to 200 students and there's no way I could grade that many essays by myself. That said, I agree that different testing methods would help, but don't have contempt for me in how I teach. We all face constraints imposed from outside.

And hang in there, Pat!