In Must We Trust
Sometimes I can’t quite put my finger on it…why my school is such a crappy place to work. But most of the time it’s easy.
Here is a relatively subtle example from just today.
Every Monday morning we get the [Your School Name Here] Bulletin in our boxes and in email. It’s very small. One sheet of paper printed on front and back in black and white. I’m looking at it right now. Most of it is probably white space. Then there is a three-inch header, a couple of pictures, a couple of calendar sidebars, an inspirational quote-in-a-box, and a list of short directives and admonitions. In other words, they’s not many words.
So I’m reading this little rag in my room and I suddenly start to get agitated. And I don’t know why. I think about it and come back at lunch. I do a ‘text analysis’. Then I figure it out.
In this very, very short little sad-sack of text, the word “must” appears 8 times; ‘need to’ and ‘mandatory’ also make appearances. Here are my favorite phrases from this week’s installment:
“All classes must have…”
“…students must reflect on their progress on the standardized tests…”
“They will need questions or prompts in order to do so.”
“We must analyze the data…”
“…students must learn how to use textbooks as a learning tool.”
“…students must receive feedback on their homework.”
“The new objectives calendars, which were due on January 7, must include [state standardized test]-targeted objective…”
“Daily homework must also be aligned to these standards.”
“Remember, that by the second semester, [sic] all of us must be using [the district online gradebook].”
“It is mandatory to attend one of these meetings.”
“You will need to bring the homework assigned at the Faculty Meeting.” (Caps are original. Really? What Is The Matter With You?)
WELCOME BACK, MOTHER FUCKERS!!!
Hope you had a good weekend because you just reentered the Valley of Shut-Yer-Mouth-and-Do-What-I-Say.
Here’s a couple of other quick things from today:
1) I attended one of the “mandatory” training meetings today. It started at 3:30 so I got there at 3:30, like a dummy. By the time this thing started it was 3:53. They couldn’t log everybody into the system. There were 30 or more people. That’s 11.5 man-hours totally wasted. I was sitting next to somebody who has also worked outside of a school. We were both shaking our heads. “Can you imaging if people were billing these hours?” Unbelievable. Teachers: Your time means nothing to anybody but you. So you have to protect it.
2) As we are being trained on this new online gradebook it becomes clear that the administration of our school has tweaked a number of things just for us. (This is the school, not the district. The admin of our school has a particularly ripe and intoxicating control fetish.) The most insulting is this: Except for final exams, midterms and projects; all individual homework assignments, tests, quizzes, and classwork will be counted the same. That means that if I want to give 5 points for an exit slip and 40 points for a unit test, I will not be able to do so. Everything will be registered as a percentage and then divided by the number of items.
Just one more way to take discretion and judgment away from teachers. Cheers. I’m feeling more like a professional all the time.
P.S. – Don’t forget, we could be Facebook friends…I won’t hassle you.