According to our computer tech who has been crunching the numbers, we are 1/10th of a child off in one category from making safe harbor in NCLB. That’s stupid. Most at-risk schools that I know are struggling to make near impossible gains to satisfy NCLB requirements for improvement. Each year that you don’t make it in our state you progressively fall under more and more state control. That’s the theory anyway. One form of state involvement has been to hire consultants from out of district to come in, shadow the principal and make “suggestions”. Suggestions my foot! What principal in their right mind would ignore such a “suggestion” under the circumstances? I guess if you were independently wealthy and didn’t give a crap…… At my other school, the “consultant” (a retired administrator) was flown in once a month from another state, stayed a week, visiting one school a day. Paid some where in the range of $1000.00-2000.00 per school. Retired, and making that much a year, pretty good. Near as I can figure, (we aren’t privy to everything that goes on) we have two of these mentor types currently. One of them “suggested” that each grade level have a bulletin board in the halls that they post writing on, rotating between classes each week. While looking at the first grade board the other day, she told the principal that the displayed work wasn’t “quality” work, and only “quality” work should be displayed. There was some phonetic spelling on some of the papers. See, the thing is, she doesn’t know the kids, the specific kids she was singling out had made HUGE progress, and it was fantastic work for them.
We have to turn in writing samples weekly from all the kids. Principal told one of the other kindergarten teachers that, “Well, at least they are trying…….” I looked at the work, for kindergarten it was fantastic. The teacher doesn’t want to make a big deal about spelling right now because if she does they will quit trying to sound the words out. It was a HUGE effort to get them to take those risks, ding them on spelling and they will shut down. Guaranteed.
So, let’s take a look at this week. I’ve radically changed my literacy centers. The kids are still getting used to the idea that they are supposed to read during this time. Before it was all worksheets. About 1/3 of my class read well enough to read Accelerated Reader books and take quizzes. The rest read other books, write the title and some words from each book they read, and they rotate through Ticket to Read on the computers. I have NEVER in all my years teaching kindergarten had this many readers reading this well. I’m so proud of my class this year. I gave a unit math test this week, a unit literacy test this week and then Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were set aside for District math and literacy assessments that are given every three months. Oh, and we are also doing mClass Math and Dibels assessments. Anyway, all that to say that Thursday afternoon, after lunch they were tested out. And pretty out of control. But I understood that, they had been working really hard. But at the moment things were about as chaotic in my room as they had ever been, there were kids everywhere. We were winding down to do math, but the transition was pretty bad. In walks the Principal, the State mandated “mentor” and the AP, each with their clipboard in hand.
Yeah, it wasn’t pretty at all. What do you do? You can’t just act quickly and suddenly change directions, that is SO phony. So we muddled through. 20 minutes later I got an email from the principal indicating that she wants to “meet” with me on my prep time early next week (she was off campus today or it probably would have been today). I figure by Tuesday there might be enough distance that it won’t be too bad. One can hope……
Given all the testing, which was clearly blocked out on my plans, I’m not too worried. The “mentor” is the loose part of the equation. If I have to, I’ll stop the meeting and call in Union representation.