Thursday, November 13, 2008

Helping Students or Hurting the Profession?

This is an ugly side of teaching. Especially when being asked to differentiate instruction and target the needs of students. When or how do we find the time to help the group we targeted?

In haste I opened a classroom up on the 5th floor during my lunch break. There, selected students, were afforded the opportunity to receive extra help. Lunch has evolved into something where upperclass students aid freshmen with math and writing.

Today I realized this does not solve the problem. Sure it is a "band-aide" for those few students. But the system of over burdened teachers does not shift or change. Ironically I became a cog in a system of educational neglect. School budgets do not have to allocate funds for teachers to help students one-on-one, because teachers are doing it for free. Why buy a cow when they are getting the milk for free?

Students who need more time, more one-on-one time to understand a concept, need the opportunity.

My haste apparently caused undo stress for my fellow UFT colleagues. I hope they understand this was never a goal of mine. Rather working toward fixing the problem I facilitated a broken system.


  1. Tell students the lunch time has been discontinued and sit in on the professional conversations in the faculty room?

  2. Continue to be of assistance to the peer mentors during lunch and ignore the discontent of my colleagues?

I'm genuinely distraught over this issue. I don't want to de-value the teaching profession. I also want to help the students I am currently charged with. I never thought these two would be at odds.

I welcome any opinions or suggestions.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Hitting "The Wall" Early and Hard

Hello, QHSTers:

As always, my sincerest thanks for the chance to post to this forum. Your insight is always enlightening.

It's three years that our "brand-new" school has been in existence. We're still trying to find our way, and I guess we will be for a while. But, for the last three years, I've noticed that around this time, I have hit the proverbial "wall" of exhaustion.

I feel very overwhelmed. It just seems as if there is so much to do, and no time to do it. From creating portfolios, to the "assessment for learning," periodic assessment, gathering data, planning, grading, etc., there seems to be no time to get anything accomplished, and it's very frustrating.

In a small school, I guess it's to be expected that you'll do a lot, but how do you handle it all? How do you do what's being asked of you, and still maintain your sanity, and some sense of "life" outside of school?

Whatever insight you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Perhaps one element of training should be "how to handle the pressure of working in a small school."

Friday, November 07, 2008


Today during our grade level team meeting a discussion over a disruptive class of students and their behavioral problems prompted the teachers to look more closely at seating arraignments int he classroom. The question which is something our school is looking more closely at now is how does the seating arraignment in a heterogeneously mixed group of students look in a general education class? Are top level students dispersed throughout the class or are they grouped together to offer them more stimulating content depth? Are lower performing students encouraged to sit with students of similar skill level for teachers to have better targeted access to them?

This is a real dilemma of differentiation in a mixed ability classroom.

My question is this, are we providing enough ongoing assessment in the classroom to clearly articulate to our students that they are moving on a continuum of learning? Today they are here with this group working on this skill tomorrow they maybe moved. Or are we as educators from a traditional upbringing content with the validity of summative formal assessments that tracking students for semesters is more effective. Are the labels of High performer and low performer stagnate throughout the year? Does transitioning from ability group to ability group in a heterogeneous classroom help students and teachers see progress as ongoing? Does homogeneous grouping allow teachers to give targeted instruction easier?