Today, I spent an extra 2 hours after school at a meeting that discussed all of the hours of work I have to do for my evaluation. I have a text book that is divided into 4 "domains" and I have to show evidence that I am doing a lot of activities in each of the domains. This will require hours of gathering materials and copies of paperwork and establishing a portfolio. Within the next couple of years, that will have to include test scores to prove that my students are learning. That will be a bit loaded against me since I see the neediest students in our building. Most are not identified as specila education (or disabled) students--but are recognized as being academically needy and as slower learners. My test scores won't impress anyone.
I love my job, but I want to describe it to you all. This morning, my day started an hour before I had to be to work. I cleaned out the bunny cage as I do daily for the bunny's well-being and for the freshness of the classroom. I had a meeting--I chair the team that comes up with ideas for our students whose homeroom teachers identify as having behavioral and/or academic problems. One of the teachers didn't show up after she was scheduled, so I will redo her meeting next week. Anyway, the administrator was tied up and missed most of the information that we shared--and we can't authorize many interventions without her approval. After that, I had my assigned morning duty which starts 15 minutes before I am required to be at work.
I finished those activities and got to my room in time to set up my first reading group. I did three running records (assessments) and helped 6 children switch some of their independent reading books for more difficult ones and then taught their lesson. My volunteer was asked to go help with something else in the building, so I lost his hands. My second group came and I was able to switch out their books before I taught their group. I take notes on each child as we work together so I can use that information to drive the lesson plan that I write in between groups for the coming day. I see each group one after another and did similar work with five more groups until it was 11:50 when I saw my first kindergarten group. One of the children in my second group had an emotional meltdown that required my serious, physical attention and I ended up having to hold onto him for an extra 35 minutes while I taught my next group. I then got him to the PE teacher who had a special time-out place for him and got right back to my classroom where I grabbed a box of berries and a sandwich (that I didn't get to eat until 3:00 anyway.)
I saw 2 more reading groups and had a 5 minute break, so I used the rest room and then I had one more group to teach. I had one student absent today, so I saw 67 children between 8:37 and 2:55, with one bathroom break. I have a waiting list of darling children who need my help, but I cannot see anyone else. And next year, I will do this part of my job in half a day... So anyway, next, I went from teaching to planning and gathering my materials and firming up my plans for tomorrow before I went to this 1.75 hour meeting after school about how I am going to be evaluated. More work and paperwork is just what will make me a better teacher!!
I came home to a voice mail and an email from the Illinois Education Association asking me to call my Congress members to ask them to vote against cutting my pension. I worked hard for less than adequate pay for a professional--to earn and pay into that pension--but because the policy makers in Illinois saw fit to raid our pension fund some ten years ago and ever since and steal what was mine, I have to beg to keep it.
Schools in Illinois are taking a real hit from our state that keeps reducing our budgets. Now, we are also hit by the Federal government's "Sequester" and funds are being pulled away from the programs that are here for our neediest students--the disabled, ELLs, and the poor. How come I am the one being evaluated rather than the people who keep messing up the budgets and who keep coming up with more and more for us to do in less time with more students.
I am wondering why anyone would want to be a teacher. I wonder about my son who is teaching in Iowa and how things really are for him. I wonder how we can keep our brightest and most energetic, intelligent young people coming to a field in which they must fight for every cent that they earn and deal with politicians making bad decisions and stealing their pension funds.
I love, love, love my work. However, I woke up with a lot of pain at 2:30 this morning and never got back to sleep. I am pretty sore from my altercation with the student, who needed to be convinced that his behavior choices were not going to let him go home time after time. Then, I got to sit through this well-done , but frightening workshop that told me all of the work I have to do to be evaluated. If I am not mistaken, people in other fields don't have to make portfolios to help themselves be ranked as an average employee, do they? IL went to this plan because they believe that too many teachers are said to do an excellent job when the students' test scores don't match that. Hmm--I guess we are the only ones responsible for educating and caring for all of our students every hour of the day. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) I had to call two parents who won't answer notes or calls about their children's missing bags of books. I give them a bag of books to take home daily for practice on the skills I teach. By the way, I bought almost every singel book that my students use for lessons and homework.
I am feeling angry that the people in charge are making it more work to simply be evaluated. I am feeling angry about the lack of support and the lack of faith in me as an educator. I am feeling angry that my students are getting shortchanged as far as available teachers and the number in their classroom interferes with their maximum learning.
This entire day was about me giving and giving and giving of myself in every way I have to give--and being paid for that effort by more work and less money in the long run. I wish I could design my duties and then help my students learn as much as possible while retaining their love of learning and life. That's all that this position should ultimately be about.
Excuse me for taking my opportunity and your time for this rant. It was a tough day and I needed to fuss a bit. I do love my work and I intend to keep with it--but days like today make it easy to consider alternatives, like selling shoes or painting fences!