Sunday, February 20, 2011

2008: 39 Days Off

Another old post from my teaching blog; the links are still useful....

The traditional perception is that teachers work nine months, then get three months off (to which teachers always reply that they work plenty of long hours during the school year, so it pretty much evens out). Now, if I hadn't volunteered to teach summer school and if I hadn't agreed to some additional training, I'd have gotten a sweet ten-week vacation, positively European. But then the extra paychecks are helping quite a bit, so no regrets.

None at all; summer school was great. A frictionless fifteen days with relatively sharp kids, few discipline problems, light supervision, and familiar curriculum. The wife and I celebrated the denouement on the back porch with frou-frou drinks in plastic coconuts with little umbrellas.

Prior to the summer session, I took a four-day training on how to teach a science unit I'd just finished teaching a few weeks earlier - that would be the "familiar curriculum" referred to above. I think the summer students and I would have all preferred some new material, but we spent most of our time exploring the math, writing, and social studies lessons related to the science. And a few of them really needed some review, too. But as I mentioned, the ones who needed it most were nowhere to be found.

Once it was all over, I signed up for a three-day training on teaching English to ELLs (English language learners). The state, in its finite wisdom, has a new law requiring these kids to be resegregated from native speakers for four hours a day. Five years ago, they were demanding that they all be tossed together, but the law's the law, so we all have to learn the new restrictions, er, guidelines.

In any case, I learned a great deal from the engaging Catherine Brown, whose website is a must for any educators dealing with this issue, which is pretty much all of us. There was lots of valuable information about what a strange language English is, the trickiest parts of it for newcomers to grasp, and how to help them catch on. This should all help quite a bit once the new paradigm takes effect.

I would be remiss if i didn't mention a couple of thought-provoking articles I've stumbled across in the past few days. The ubiquitous teacherken at the Daily Kos portal is a cosigner on a new statement of principals to guide education policy in the next administration. Two of the four pillars are more emphasis on early childhood education and on after-school programs, to which the probable next administration is already committed. Another involves recognition of the extent to which access to health care can affect education outcomes; this is also likely to improve if we don't get a third Bush term. The fourth leg is a grab-bag of proven "school improvement" efforts, principally the value of smaller class sizes. Worth a look, if that's your cup of.

The other article is for anyone who ever suspected that the motives of the Bush Administration in pursuing NCLB were less than fully altruistic. It's shocking, I know, but your confirmation comes from the assistant secretary horse's mouth.

I'd like to blog in from time to time reflecting on the school year just past, but right now I'm on vacation. And only 36 days left, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment