Thursday, May 24, 2007

Why Do I teach?

I aks myself that question and the answer is getting worse and worse. I do not think I want to teach anymore. I am so frustrated and burnt by the system. Is it worth it anymore.

Friday, April 27, 2007

let's freak out about everything

i remember when i used to write poetry. i am not great, good, or even ok. i am a hack. but it was a form that i could express myself. i used to share it with people. then people said my poems were sexist and not inclusive. i was talking about myself, why would it not be talking about a male?!@ it was not meant to be universal it was about me: my life, my troubles, love, etc! so i wrote genderless poetry that said nothing. i stopped writing poetry. plus my muse broke my heart and after the initial poems in red there was nothing more to say.

now, i am reading about people getting upset and even arrested for writing violent literature. i understand there was a very sad and upsetting series of events at Viginia Tech. There is a lot of sadness stemming from that event. but we are the knee jerk society. let us freak out about everything.

violent writing is bad
playing violent video games is bad
watching violent movies is bad
listening to violent music is bad
shooting and owning guns is bad
being alive is bad

am i desensitized?

i do all of the above. i felt a sadness. i have committed no murders. no felonies. i a pretty normal person. i love, i feel compassion. i do not freak out about everything.

i have lived in the bad neighborhoods. i had to move once the owner of the house was killed. i never told my mom where i lived because she would have been upset and given me money to live elsewhere. it was not bad and i had no problems there. i was nice and the people i lived with were fun too.

i think we are sensitive in another way. we have become the tooth that has enjoyed too many sweets and now cannot stand drinking anything too hot or too cold or too acidic. all we can drink is room temperature water. we are not desensitized. we care too damn much about nothing. there are no degrees it is all on or all off. let us fire our Imus's because he is white and male not because he actually did something wrong. hell plenty of people have said similar things and are still popular: al sharpton, ann coulter, rush limbaugh, me?

if someone says something to be there is usually a rebuke and i move on. if there is a pattern then their is a significant retribution. only when it becomes abuse do i seek something more. one incident is not the end of the world. but let us burn them anyway.

keep writing the mindless violence. i will watch it. i need to turn off my mind to the real crap out there because that affects me. not the mindless violence or rants that seem to be all that are cared about. what is the real problem? find that and fix it.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


As with most things in life it is all about connections. Evidently, I do not have good ones. I am a little Pollyanna in thinking that people should recognize talent. Well, I do.

I am not cut out to be a Varsity head coach. I am fine as a FS coach. I can do well there. The expectations are low and I can usually outcoach the other guy if it comes down to it. Talent is usually what gets in the way.

But, this is not my rant. My rant is about jerk coaches who fill that ranks. Many of these people were solid basketball players in their day. I was never a good player. I am still not a good player. I do know the game. Maybe that helps put my ego in perspective because when I look at my players, I know they are all better players than I.

The coaching field is filled with this guys and they are real jerks. They think of themselves a God's gift to coaching. They berate players and often teach people how to cheat. I am all for technique and love of the game. I do not mean to be holier than thou. I too have my demons. I had several blow ups during the season including one really bad one. I had to do damage control and a self assessment. I was wrong. I belittle my team and berated them. I did some dumb coaching things that night. A player and a parent called me on it and I had to admit I was wrong. I even sent a note to all the parents and apologized. I had a team meeting and did the same thing. I think that incident went a long way towards the success we had for the rest of the season. We were 2-2 in league at that point. We ended up 8-4. Thus we went 6-2 down the stretch and we had six of those games sans our best player who was pulled up to Varsity. Thus I am not a saint either.

But I do not run up scores. I do not leave my starter in the whole game if we are running over a team. I do not press all game. I take the dogs off. It annoys me when coaches say that they are not going to stop coaching when they are up by a lot as their justification for what they are doing. I am still coaching too; I am just doing it with my lesser players. I try to use it as teaching time. I try to not be too critical of them as well. I should know they are my lesser players. I am not the best. I did have a playing crisis and I did point out how my lesser players got crushed when I put them on the court. It ended the crisis but it was pretty damn mean. It was just reality but it is hard when you slap it with them instead of letting them come to their own conclusions.

Well we came in second place in league. I was pretty happy. But, the post season league meeting was not fun. We did not get the respect we deserved as the second place team. The 4th place team was more honored than we were. No one understood why I was upset. They we all for themselves and kept using the same arguments and kept belittling my team. If they were that much better then they should have swept us or figured out how to beat the teams we swept and they did not. No on figured out how to beat the league champion. I was still angry and upset and thinking about it three days later.

I am pretty sure that I am not going to coach at my current school again this year. I was definite a month ago. Then I started talking to people and they caused me to waver. I think I am getting over it. I just cannot stand the head coach. He is still living in high school and how great he was. Ok, maybe part of that is jealousy because I had no high school career. But, he graduated 35 years ago. Maybe he should get over it. He has so much knowledge in his head. I am in awe of it. But, I have seen him coach for a year and he cannot translate it to the kids. He loses his audience and hence his team does not get better. I am not a great coach. I will never be a great coach. I will not be a good varsity coach. I am just going to be a decent FS coach. I am just not going to do it for a while.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

NCLB Again

I am all for teacher accountability. But measuring how well a teacher does by looking at one test a year is not the way to do it. There are many problems with this system.

1. The bad day problem: Most of us watch sports. There are days when you just excel and then they are days when you can do nothing. We never know what day we are going to get even if we do the right things like eating a good breakfast and getting enough sleep. The test is really just a snapshot of a day. We have all taken bad and good pictures. Sometimes it is the person behind the camera, sometimes it is the person in front of the camera.

2. The incentive problem: There is no incentive for the student to do well or even try on the test. There are no repercussions for them if they do not do well. Most students have pride and want to do well on it. Many students in my population do not like the test. They tests make them feel "stupid." (Believe me I have heard this refrain many times. They have stopped trying to take the test. Some speed through it as fast as they can. Some make patterns. Some just randomize answers. Some try for a while til they get frustrated. Some try the entire time. I have tried food bribes and other incentives for them to try the entire exam. Sometimes it is successful; most times it is not. In the big picture, i do not think this is a major of serious problem but in my population I think it is.

3. Required Test: The students are not required to take the test. Parent have the option of having their kids not take the test. This could lead to all sort of problems should the test me the marker of teacher performance.

4. Teaching to the Test: There are definitely strategies to taking a multiple choice test. I loved math tests. I really enjoyed the fact that most problems did not require me to actually complete the problem. I could find the answer based on those given by doing a little work. I also know what type of answers they would provide. They always give an answers that will fit the common mistake such as a negative answer when the answer should be positive. Eliminate those and your chances go from 20% to at least 25%. Find another simple thing to eliminate before you do any work and your odds keep getting better. Where was the academic value in what that I just gave you?

5. One Size Fits All test: Sure they are standardized. But it just means it fits most. So you can get most people in it but there will be many that it does not fit well. There is a reason why we have so many choices in our life because we all like and are comfortable with different things. My one size fits all beanie is a little short and does not cover my ears all the way. Options on testing is the way to go. Mastery of knowledge can be expressed in many ways. To force us to use only one is not the way to go.

I am tired of this rant but I am sure I could find more problems with this method of measuring teacher progress. How about the student who does not like the teacher and intentionally tanks to get back at the teacher. Hmm, I like that one. I wonder if I can use it for ill actions.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

rants part one

i wonder what i can say. i usually do not say much. ok not much on my other blog. i figure this blog can be my rant blog.

NCLB. I love education. I love special education. I have found my calling and now NCLB (No Child Left Behind) is taking the pleasure from my career.

I have been in education for 6 years. 5 of them as a special education teacher. Generally, I am a fickle person. I get bored with what i am doing. If I stick to what I am doing, I become bitter and lazy. I like change but it better be positive change. I have been able to teacher literature, algebra, geometry, and all the social sciences in special education. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I changed up every couple of years. I have become a solid math teacher. The teachers in the math department respect my knowledge and my ability. I was a political science major in college. I am not highly qualified to teach math despite my knowledge and ability. I am highly qualified for social studies only. Thus I can teach world history, us history, economics, and government. I do love those classes, I did major and minor in that area. Thus, in the future i can only teach those few classes.

I can always become highly qualified. I could take really expensive tests that have a higher than 50% failure rate. But, then I would still need to get a credential in that subject area. Hmm, I could become the most highly qualified teacher on campus and get no reward other that being able to teach what i want. sure we get some more money when we have more post graduate units under our belts. but there is a limit to how much we get credit. i could go to the mainstream now and max out in a focused one area now. thus the credits are not meaningful.

i frustrated by the system and how it has totally overlooked special circumstances. the first thing we learned about special education is the need for it to be individualized. to be honest, all of education needs to be that way. i could look up my entire college major graduating class and we all would have taking a different route to a degree. the variety that makes college great is missing in high school. the students are all fed the same gruel. it will stifle; smother; be perfect for some. it does not work. encourage each to be the best and the brightest in what they do well not what we think they should be doing well in. you will never make me a great writer but i will be creative. enjoy it.

meanwhile, i am going to seriously consider getting out of special education and into the mainstream.