Monday, May 30, 2011

So long, May

I'm not sad to see the end of May, a month of testing and scoring. I gave my students the best literary gift I could offer, given the circumstances - BOOK CLUB.

This weekend we were host family to two wonderful Chinese graduate students (from Penn State) here to attend an international students conference. The conference organized a visit to Niagara Falls for the students on Saturday, we took our two students to the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens on Sunday, and good weather fortune prevailed!

Hosting international students was a terrific experience, but I'd be lying if I didn't say the BEST thing that happened to me was going to the NKOTBSB concert in Buffalo on Saturday night!!! I wasn't even a fan of EITHER band until... Saturday!!! Now I can't stop singing... ALL YOU PEOPLE, CAN'T YOU SEE, CAN'T YOU SEE... My friend and colleague H scored free tickets, and we plan to wear our souvenir t-shirts to school tomorrow... I'LL BE LOVING YOU FOREVERRRRRR... (the following is NOT my video since we were sitting wayyyy up high, but you get the idea...) I DON'T CARE WHO YOU ARE, WHERE YOU'RE FROM, WHAT YOU DID, AS LONG AS YOU LOVE ME...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

defy gravity

On the same day that I took my 10 year old girl to see "Wicked" the musical, I read about our state's draft regulations for teacher and principal evaluation that involves a "value-added" formula and a recent NY Times article about a "value-added model" used in New York City.

On our drive to the theatre that evening, "Uprising" by Muse pounded these words pounded over and over in my head - "they will stop degrading us... rise up and take the power back".

How? I wonder. How will they stop degrading our teaching profession, and how will we rise up and take the power back so that students can learn?

During the musical, Elphaba spoke aloud my thoughts in "Defying Gravity" - "something has changed within me, something is not the same". I really had believed for years that teaching alone was worth my time and energy, whether it was English language arts instruction or character education in general. But now, I really don't think I can ignore what's WRONG, just plain WRONG - spending gobs of money for "experts" to tell me how and what to teach, then cutting arts and music education, blaming teachers for standardized test scores and threatening jobs, ignoring poverty, ignoring student learning needs at home and in the schools, ... the list goes on. This NPR story "Rage Simmering Among American Teachers" and interview with Diane Ravitch expresses a lot about how I feel.

My daughter has said since she was about 3 years old that she wants to be a teacher. (Her grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins - teachers.) Sitting next to her at the musical, I wondered how I could show her to defy gravity.