Thursday, February 12, 2009

The problem of grade level team meetings.

When I taught in MS202 in Ozone Park, I taught in isolation. When I had a “difficult class” I hid it from my colleagues. I wasn’t about to admit I was having trouble. I never asked for help, and I never shared anything that was happening in my class with anyone other than the students in front of me. I was a good teacher at least I thought.

I mocked teachers who spoke about school on their lunch break. I felt that administration was the enemy. Basically I closed my door, did what I thought was right, then went home.

I was never asked by colleagues or administration about why students were successful in one class and not another. What did I care if Johnny couldn’t read that was the English teacher’s job? What did I care if Debra had artistic talents beyond her peers? Wasn’t that the Art teacher’s job? And Math….lol I thought it was a waste of time.

I worried only about my class, I was only concerned with my teaching history. Not my students. I was worried about my “teaching”. After all, it was the only thing I could control.

Then I came to QHST. I really had to start thinking about much more. I was asked to participate in CFGs. I was nervous of being exposed as a fraud. That peers were just going to laugh at me. What the hell do I know? What the hell do they know? Why would they care about what happens in my history class? I was standing in front of math teachers, a music teacher and veteran English teacher explaining how I teach. I immediately thought this was crazy, against my union contract, and not what I went to school for. The uncomfortable feeling prompted my to call a teacher from my previous school and explain, “ugh…the meeting I had today was a waste of time.” (That was easier than sharing how uncomfortable I was)

Now we have these “Grade Level Team Meetings.” I am put on the spot, asked to talk about students (something I cannot control) share successes, and failures. I’m no longer teaching in isolation. I know who the artists are in my class, I know who is better at math, and who loves to write or read. It is too much. Too much to think about. I’m held way too accountable by my peers. Where’s my union, this job is too tough!

I want to go back to the isolation, to worrying only about history not the lives of students. I’m not paid enough to really deal with weekly parent calls, electronic grade books, holistic differentiated instruction, and educational philosophy.

Leave that to the professionals, I’m a teacher.

(wait a minute did I just type that?)


Anonymous said...

Of course this post is in response to the idea that grade level team meetings have no value.
Are your implying that teachers at "QHST" take issue with doing away with GLT meetings because they do not want to be responsible for "weekly parent calls, electronic grade books, holistic differentiated instruction, and educational philosophy."
That might be somewhat unfair. Perhaps we need to listen to what our colleagues who are professionals just like we are have to say before passing judgement and implying their reasons for wanting to do away with GLT meetings as our professional assignment.

W Brown said...

I'm just trying to start a conversation. It's real hard for me to listen at our union meetings.
I'm in no way passing judgement.

I'm trying to create a forum for disscussion.

Anonymous said...

What were the reasons for wanting to do away with GLT meetings? I forgot.


Anonymous said...

When I worked as a financial planner at American Express I was responsible for the financial security and assets of the clients who trusted me with their life savings. Do you know how the company held me accountable for millions of dollars of investments?

Every Wednesday morning I have to get up in front of all the other planners in the office (about 15) and review a client file. I had to give a history of the client, discuss their goals, the strategies I was using to help them reach those goals. Then I had to sit quietly on the side while my peers looked for flaws in my plan and gave constructive feedback.

I met with my peers EVERYDAY for an hour to discuss all sorts of important issues about clients, market trends, investment strategies, etc etc etc.

If American Express found that a high level of professional collaboration was important for handling people's money, imagine what those people might think about how the people taking care of their kids should act?

Keep 3 hours of SLC's. All the cool people are doing it!


Anonymous said...

Trying to start a conversation that would be beneficial to us all may not best be accomplished when using sarcasm and implying unprofessional behavior by colleagues. In fact the conversation will probably never take place.

Anonymous said...

I think you need to look inward. If you really just want to make fun of people, you're okay. But if you want to start a conversation, then opening up with "Why don't you care about kids?" is unlikely to get the job done. And, whether through criticism or sarcasm (as here) you seem to open posts that way.

I noticed this fall a post in which you were content to criticize those who disagreed with you, but never looked for compromise: Helping Students.... If you searched for middle ground, or better, and accommodation that met the needs of all parties, you might that you could get there.

It's much harder to work towards agreement than to lob shots. Is it worth it? In my school, and I don't blog about it, we do it all the time. Not everyone is delighted with the outcome of each discussion, but everyone stays on board.

Can you put in the effort? Is your anti-union animus too great? (and where does that come from, by the way? Even the not-so-union-friendly people in my school are not scornful and insulting)

I guess the question is how committed you are to making your school work, and work better.


Anonymous said...

GLT meeting can be quite exhausting when you are not doing them correctly.....correctly meaning that they become a bitch session where no action takes place. Also, lets face it, some parents (usually the parents of our more challenging students) do not like GLT meetings becuase they give their son/daughter a bad name and other teachers jump on the band wagon towards the "negativity" of their child!

In my opinion, GLT team meetings have lost their integrity due to the fact that our facilitators do not get paid to do their job, making agenda's putting in extra time to make sure ideas get done etc. I know, I know someone will say that these are the jobs of the grade level team however, experience has shown that we need a facilitator and they should be compnsated like they did two years ago.

If we keep GLT meetings let's do it right!