Hitting the wall

I’ve lost it. I’m so angry I could… oh hell, I don’t even know what to do I’m so angry.

Nothing happened, not anything any different than any other day. I read a couple of teachers’ blogs. I checked in on Twitter. And all of a sudden it was as if I couldn’t breathe.

Here’s what I read.

Brian Crosby’s blog, Learning is Messy. Last year, a 1:1 laptop classroom where more exciting things happened in a day than might in a month in a book and paper-centered class. This year, computers sit in boxes as he waits for the IT folks to 1) install the new wireless system, a last task in a school-wide renovation, so that he can  2)  prove the old computers won’t work with the new system, so that he can 3) set about solving the situation.

Paul Bogush, writing about a recent meeting:

We need to improve on three sections of our state testing so we are going to do more test prep on those three sections.  First we have to improve on our writing prompts.  The answer is to not have kids do more authentic writing or have them do more writing that they might enjoy, but to standardize the prompts across the district so that every kid gets accessed on the same prompt.  Then we have to improve self to text connections.  The answer is not to create units that connect to students’ live and reading material that connects with their lives, but to give them standardized reading assignments and force them to make a connection with whatever is read.  Finally we have to improve reading comprehension. We are not going to help them by letting them read material they might enjoy, or making sure the have the proper background to understand and make connections to what they read, we are simply going to give them standardized sections of text to read and…

Ms. Brave Teaches NYC describing an administrator’s  response to the impossibility of teaching a class when she’s got an out-of-control student who’s starting 2nd grade for the third time.

And these are just three teachers.

I started to think, if I were one of  these teachers, what would I do?

Mr. Crosby sounds like he’s going to try to make magic happen, but he says he’s “on edge.”

Ms. Brave is talking about quitting and she’s serious.

Mr. Bogush, the upbeat, dedicated, innovative teacher I follow on Twitter, sounds like he’s ready to give up.

What would I do?

What will we do?

4 responses to “Hitting the wall”

  1. Teresa Bunner says:

    Karen, you must be my psychic twin! You have just explained why I have the headache I do. It’s from hitting my head against a wall! I’ve been contemplating handing in a letter of resignation because I feel like an absolute fish out of water where I am. And I hate that I am missing out on time with my own kids to help kids in place where everybody seems to think status quo is better than the effort to make change.

    I’ve decided it is time to stop being politically correct and worrying about being tactful with folks, especially higher ups. What will I do? I’ll speak up, every chance I get. And I’ll even create a few chances. It’s not right. Our kids and teachers should have what they need ,when they need it. No more district office folks deciding we are low priority. Step up your game! We are watching you. We are in the trenches. We are doing work that is important EVERY day. It’s time for you to respect that. Actions speak louder than words. Hook up our computers. Stop demanding more test prep and start demanding rigorous classrooms.Better yet, respect that we are professionals and know how to teach! And stop allowing one student to disrupt learning for 20 others.

  2. […] All Hands on Deck: Reflections on Teaching, Multiple Literacies, and English Education in a Time of Change by Karen A. LaBonte is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. ← Hitting the wall […]

  3. Paul Bogush says:

    Give up eh….
    Well actually in response to the above excerpt from my blog I am planning a unit that involves groups creating videos about 19th Century Heroes. Each group will have kids from my class, a college class in Kansas, and a sixth grade class in Colorado. All three classes are going to collaborate on creating the videos and the three strands that we are suppose to focus on will be interwoven into the unit. When we are asked for evidence for our test prep I am slamming that baby on the table. Thinking of laminating it and maybe throwing some ribbons and glitter on for special effects.
    I have had your blog open for days on my laptop and finally today I got to it and was surprised to see the excerpt, and more surprised to see your comment–and very, very happy. It helped point out that my blog might tend to be my reaction to things, but not my actions. I really, really need a wake up call and your four little words “ready to give up” have sent a shot of adrenaline into my body late at night. Every once in a while I wish I had someone in my building who would just walk up to me and say “snap out of it” during times in which I feel like I am being crushed by the forces above me. So seriously, thank you–I really needed that.

    • Karen says:

      @Paul Bogush,

      You are more than welcome. You’ve buoyed me up any number of times; glad I could return the favor.

      We may not be in the same physical building, but I’m just down the hall in our virtual world.

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