A Phillie Teacher

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

How’s That Script Working Out?

Posted by aphillieteacher on January 17, 2011

About a month ago I posted my angry response to the district’s command: “Do not teach literature or critical thinking or anything to do with gaining knowledge or learning about the world. Certainly don’t let them discover the wonder and beauty of American writing.” Instead they mandate that every week

1. the kids read a non-fiction text selected by the district
2. write a 5 paragraph response to a canned prompt
3. track their scored “progress” on a district-made table

what our highly-paid experts in the district office forgot was allowing time to conference with our students and give them personal feedback.

What the kids get is a 14 point rubric sheet with four items checked off. I try to add comments or circle particular items that need attention but honestly, our kids zoom to their score and look at little else.

Result: they’re not making any progress. Week after week they enter nearly the same scores as the previous week, all because I never get the chance to say “Here’s what’s going wrong with your (topic sentences) (transitions) (conclusions)” And with 90 something of these to grade every week, I’m tired.

End Result: everyone is frustrated – me, helplessly watching my kids make the same errors every week, the kids because they don’t see any results and they’re damn tired of this nonsense and finally the District because there wasn’t any change in scores.

Obviously this will somehow be my fault.

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4 Responses to “How’s That Script Working Out?”

  1. ricochet said

    That’s where I see us headed with math. Instead of being able to ensure (I love that word lately) that the students understand the math, we have to march in lockstep to some touchy feely way of teaching that the students do not understand.

    And, when they do poorly on standardized tests, it would be because I did not teach it.

    Ho figure.

    So, how do YOU feel about the teaching?

  2. I don’t call it teaching. What I do is closer to “facilitating.” I make sure that the copies are made, that the students understand the prompt and stay on task.

    I give them hints and ideas, encourage them to finish. But that isn’t teaching.

  3. Jen said

    It’s some weird, fun house mirror version of teaching and learning. Minus the teaching and the learning.

    And when they get the same scores on the tests, you’re right, it will be the teacher’s faults, of course. Next year they’ll have you start the non-teaching even earlier in the year. Clearly you just didn’t do enough of it.

  4. And when they get the same scores on the tests, you’re right, it will be the teacher’s faults,

    This is why we’re being so meticulous in following every letter of the directives. If this brilliant concept fails, we can point to our spread sheets about completed essays, scores given, file folders, rubrics . . the whole forest of wasted paper. We’ll point to all that and say “We did exactly what you told us. Now please explain why the kids failed, using YOUR idea.”

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