Sunday, May 11, 2008

Teaching is my bag

  • A teaching candidate came in for an interview this week. She was just out of school. I saw her resume. Across the top of it was a big bold line which read, "Pursing a career in teaching, first through eigth grade." Yes, pursing. Yes, eigth. And she got an interview! Standards are slipping. I was in the room during her mock lesson. It was, surprisingly, acceptable. Not great by any means.
  • The kindergarteners saw a video about the lives of some Mexican children. The film's kids weren't suffering in abject poverty --- they had a small house and a few clothes and a mother who cooked meals of cheap hearty staples --- but they didn't have very much, either. The whole family worked hard, even the kids, who also walked more than a mile each way to school every day. The film talked about how it was hot and the area didn't have much water. After the video, one of our kindergarteners said, "If they're hot, they could swim in their pools."
  • I was looking through the Rolodex of parents at Prestigius. They had slots for "Address" and "Father home cell" and "Mother work phone" and "Father e-mail" and so on. And --- this shows what tax bracket Prestigius' families are in --- there was a standard "Nanny contact info" slot as well. And I'd say about 85% of the entries had that slot filled.
  • I've sat through a couple of interviews for the assistants we'll have next year. One was great, the other a bit too exuberant and inexperienced. I told the VH that I didn't want the second one, so she didn't get hired. I feel bad, because people need jobs, and I'm really not comfortable with power of any kind, especially in the professional world. But better to let someone keep looking and find their fit than try to make it work only to be forced out once they've begun. Hell, I still worry that could happen to me.
  • I watched a very interesting meeting of grade teachers as they decided how to split the grade up into new classes for next year. They'd labeled each student with customized notes, like "needy," or "cannot work well with John" or "has over-protective parents." Then they spent about 45 minutes mixing and sorting the kids to try to find a balance of high-maintenance kids, independent kids, high-achieving kids, kids that need extra help, kids with supportive parents, kids with meddlesome parents, and so on. Fascinating. That's something you don't suspect is going on when you're a kid.


Rachel said...

When I was in high school, I realized that I had been tracked into the mediocre classes, probably because I had received free lunch since I was in kindergarten. I figured it out when I demanded to be put into AP classes - I have to say it really pissed me off and left me rather cynical about the capabilities of people who are in a position to judge my value. If only I had received such individual judgment when I was a student --

Rebel said...

So interesting that I clicked on this blog just now. I finished reading "Teach Like Your Hair is On Fire" at like 10pm but can't fall asleep. He talks a bit about his frustration with the way schools are run these days, but he has been able to do really amazing things with his students.

He is, of course, insane. He commits an unhealthy amount of time , money & life energy to his class room... but it looks like it works.

Have you read it?

Churlita said...

I know for a fact they did that at my kids' grade school. Since it was so diverse, they kind of had to. Half the kids were from other countries.

My girls are free lunch kids, but they still take AP courses and get great test scores. I always think it's so odd when poor kids are pegged as stupid or uneducated.

Chance said...


I haven't read it, but it's on my (impossibly long) list.

what they do here at prestigious isn't so much tracking as it is trying to get a good mix of kids in each classroom. There's a hint of tracking, of course, but hopefully no one is pigeonholed.

Michael5000 said...

I can just imagine you pursuing your lips when you read that resume....

You could make a case -- and my education instructors probably would have -- that "tracking" and "trying to get a good mix of kids in each classroom" are two ways of saying the same thing. Sounds like the process at ol' Prestigious is a pretty positive one, though.

Hope they shred those little notes afterwards, though. I'd hate to go through life with a post-it that says "needy" stuck on the front of my master file.

daveawayfromhome said...

Whachawannabet that the misspeller was related to or recommended by someone at Prestigious?

I never suspected the tracking thing when I was a kid, but am quite sure that it goes on now. My youngest and very headstrong daughter keeps getting stuck in the disciplinarian teachers' classrooms. On the one hand, she probably needs it. On the other, I'm not sure that it does much good, and maybe another answer is needed.

NYC Educator said...

I'm amazed that resumes like that get interviews. If I were looking at resumes, anything like that would earn instant entrance into the nearest circular file. Perhaps your supervisors are on par with this resume writer.