Friday, May 30, 2008

Negativity + Centered Tendencies = A fun year.

We had the final Instructional Technology meeting of the year today. The day started with the usual long meeting where we find out all the new fun changes that have been invented for the new year. Some of them make perfect sense to me, some I cannot see the reason for. But I still am amazed at how much time we can waste arguing over that which we have no control. The changes will happen, and no matter how many STSs hold their breaths, it's still going to happen. Jim, the head dude of Instructional Technology, and Dale, the head dude of Information Systems, figured we ought to know about the changes coming down the road, and we (the support team) wasted an hour and a half arguing about why it was going to happen and why we were left out of the loop. I can't answer the first one, but the second one is easy. Do teachers ask all their students for their input on lesson plans for the next week? Uh, no. We may plan according to what they need, but not by what they want. (Well, the last week of school is not the right time to make that statement, planning revolves around what it will take to keep the kids busy while we close down for the year). Now, the title comes from what happens next. We break into our teams, which have been changed once again. Celia, our team leader, starts to go over some new procedures that we are going to implement next year. Yeah, a lot of changes. One thing I've come to realize over my 15 years teaching is that the one thing that stays constant in this profession is that something is going to change every year. Nature of the occupation. Anyhoo, one of the media specialists on my new team decided that she doesn't like the new changes, and starts to complain through questioning. Celia tries to justify the extra paperwork by explaining that the district is taking moves that could eliminate Junior High Media Specialists*, and the paperwork is to justify the work these people do and thereby justifying continued funding for their positions. This is when I hear Ms. Negativity say, and I paraphrase, "I don't care, they have to find a job for me, and it's not like they can send me back to the classroom." Man, I love an educator who really cares about what is good for the students, and not just themselves. Too bad this woman isn't one of them. Well, it took all my self control to keep from saying something like "what a wonderful attitude" or "With educators like you it's no wonder the legislature hates us." I glanced over at Dave, my school's Media Specialist, he looked at me and rolled his eyes, so I know it wasn't just me misinterpreting what was said. That's the kind of attitude that makes me refuse to belong to our union which protects it.

The good part is that after the meeting we headed up to Washington Park, had a digital photo contest, ate a bunch of good BBQ and gave away a bunch of prizes. I kept vying for the inflatable kayak (How do you clear out a Starbucks? Walk in and announce that there is someone out in the parking lot stealing the kayak off a Subaru). Somebody else chose the kayak, and I didn't win anything anyways, but one of the head IT guys, (that I'm good friends with, or was) made a comment (to just me) about my affinity for inflatables. Those of you who get what he is implying, are right. Those of you who don't - ask me some time in person, I'll explain. My first thought was "man, techno-geek and dirty humor are not mutually exclusive. Cool". Anyway, it was a lot of fun, I got a techno-geek shirt and they still want me around next year. Not a bad day at all.

* There is a move towards the Middle School philosophy, which would move the 9th graders to the High Schools. Since 9th grade counts towards High School Graduation, Junior High Schools must have a Media Specialist or they will lose their Accreditation and then 9th grade credits will not be valid anymore. Move the 9th graders to the High School, and the Middle School, formerly the Junior High, no longer needs to be accredited because none of their credits count towards graduation. Colleges and Universities do not count High School diplomas that include unaccredited credits on them.


A Paperback Writer said...

A few thoughts:
First, I don't think I WANT to know about your affinity for inflatables.....
Secondly, I shudder to think of our school without the STS. Five computer labs and no one to fix the problems or keep us up with new technology? Ugh.
Thirdly, I hate middle school philosophy, which was created by people in universities who hadn't been in actualy classrooms as teacher in years and who just wanted something new so they could make a name for themselves. However, I do believe that 9th graders are better off in high school.
I think junior high should be 7th and 8th grade only, with the purpose of preparing kids for high school, not for coddling them into thinking they're still in grade school.
And if 9th grade goes to high schools, I want to go with it.

Max said...

School without an STS is bad enough, but what about a school without a Library Media person. Seems that that is our district's motivation towards middle school philosophy, to get rid of the Jr. High library people and save money. And this woman doesn't care if it adversely effects the students, as long as she still has her job, and doesn't have to go back to the classroom. Kind of a pathetic attitude for an educator. In my opinion, other than custodians, secretaries and other support staff, EVERY employee in the district that ever had a teaching certificate should be required to spend a year in the class room on a regular basis, like every 5th year or so. And that includes the superintendant. Too many people who are making the "big" decisions haven't been in a classroom for a decade or two. Hell, maybe even the Legislators on the Education Subcommittee should be required to have a teaching license and spend time in a classroom. Anyhoo, I have to disagree with you on middle school philosophy, that was one of the things that drew me to your school when I moved there. I see it as less coddling and more putting forth a unified front. I found a lot of power in meeting as a team with problem students and their parents. When we’re all there they can’t pull the “yours is the only class she has an F in, or he has problems in.” And although it’s relatively new to Utah, it has been around, in some form, since I was in middle school in both Lexington and Seattle (back in the early, early 70’s). I won’t argue that there aren’t problems with teaming, and that I have been extremely lucky to have been on some really good combinations of personalities, but, for me, teaming has been a positive experience. Anyways, that's just me. As far as the 9th graders go, I have to agree with you 100%. They seem to function better, and are easier to deal with when they are not top dog in the school.....Oh, and 1 week to Sego time!

A Paperback Writer said...

Okay, I can respect your opinion on middle schools, since you back it up, but I can't agree with it (I've already stated why, so I won't bother to again).
I do agree with your every 5th year idea -- and I definitely agree that legislators should spend time in the classroom. You know I often quote Robert Kirby that anyone running for legislator should be required to spend 3 years as a grade school teacher (should be junior high, as the behavior is worse) and 2 years as a cop (seeing some of the same kids as from junior high).