A Phillie Teacher

I was a starry-eyed teacher from New Jersey. Now I work for Philadelphia Public Schools.

Can we talk? No, we can’t.

Posted by aphillieteacher on December 31, 2010

The average teacher at New High School teaches 1 or at most two different preps a week. Few of them are new teachers so chances are these are not new classes for them.

In my case my entire Sunday afternoon is spent planning lessons, making flipcharts and graphic organizers for all my classes because I have 3 separate classes to prepare for. I am a new teacher, so all these classes are new to me as well.

One of  them is the keystone of any urban school: the Juniors! PSSA success is a must. The second essential group is the seniors: everyone must graduate! Must! (apparently sophomores are not a concern to anyone yet but I teach them too)

With all these important groups to teach, you might think the principal wants me to focus on doing well with one group or the other and getting everyone safely to June.

Apparently not.

During the week I teach one class then frantically move on to the next one. No time for reflection or refining concepts. Hell no! Another level of 33 inner city kids is sitting in front of me.

On top of that, every week there are new mandates from the superintendent’s office (desperation measures, usually) Spreadsheets on the juniors, literacy mandates . . I wake up at night wondering how I’m going to do it all.

It isn’t unusual at our school for roster changes to occur at any time during the year. Two of my colleagues (heads of department) saw what was going on and went to the principal on my behalf  to see if my roster could shift so that I didn’t have so many *different* classes – and she shot them down. Apparently she didn’t see the big deal in giving an English teacher a heavy load.

They urged me to talk to her myself.

So yesterday during winter break, I did. “I have trouble sleeping,” I told her. “I can’t teach well this way. I don’t know if I can get everything done.”  I spoke on a professional level, with professional emphasis on quality of teaching and learning.

“I’ll think about it,” she said dismissively.

I know damn well that in the 4 seconds it took her to say that, she was finished thinking about it. The answer was “NO”

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2 Responses to “Can we talk? No, we can’t.”

  1. JJ said

    Trying to support and grow new teachers seems to be a thing of the past. Then again, so does valuing experienced teachers. Not a good combination.

  2. What you’re telling me is that nobody is valued as a teacher? Depressing but seemingly true! Can’t wait to get out of this business.

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