Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Posted by ruben_b at 9:19 PM
Monday, March 21, 2011
There are plenty of times when I disagree with Michael Mulgrew and the UFT. There have been more than a few occasions in conversations about teaching when I've had to admit my own confusion or frustration with the union. But these instances will never change the fact that I am a proud supporter of the teacher's union.
In a bizarre era where policy experts are calling attention to the need to attract better teachers while policy makers simultaneously decry our "lavish" benefits, the need for a strong union becomes increasingly well. The blatant attacks on collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin and elsewhere do nothing to improve education. During such a time, I am grateful for the hard fought union battles of the past that protect me from discrimination, support my instruction and planning, and encourage my professional development.
When I think of one of the most vital roles of the union however, I think of the protections that allow me to advocate for my students. At a school with more than 33% of students under IEP's and an even larger number receiving ESL services, I understand how crucial it is that I can speak up for these students if they aren't getting legally mandated services. This is arguably the foremost job of a teacher, to speak up for his or her students. By protecting teachers who do this, the union is protecting the city's neediest children. The union is at its best when it is in this role.
I know I don't see eye to eye with the UFT on every issue. I don't agree with LIFO. I think in the past tenure has been granted too swiftly and easily. In other areas, like the need for a stronger evaluation system, I hope the union will take more of a leadership role to create a system that differentiates more clearly between our best and worst teachers, and provides feedback to help the latter group change their practice.
Posted by ruben_b at 8:32 PM
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I was grabbing my book bag from my closet when I saw the pencil, broken in two, lying on the floor. I couldn't help but feel curious. How did it get there? Who broke it and why?
Posted by ruben_b at 6:45 PM
Yesterday my school held parent teacher conferences. The turnout for my class, with 21 of 27 students represented, was considered good. Still I was surprised and frustrated by some of the no-shows. Meanwhile, it's March and I have yet to meet a parent of two of my students. This is more than discouraging, it's just sad.
I know these parents work all hours and more than likely multiple jobs. But I've reached out every way I know how, with no success.
Luckily these two students go against the trend I've seen over the years, and are in fact two of my top readers. Nonetheless I wish deeply I could share their learning, their strengths, and needs with someone at home.
In the meantime, I tried something different. I held the conference with the student.
In some ways it was no different from the regular conferences I have during daily lessons. First we talked about her most recent writing piece. Then we looked at her scores from the fall and winter ELA and math simulations. I told her how bright she is and how proud she should feel, but reminded her she has to continue working hard and trying her best. She has a bad habit of being bossy and a bit of a bully and we talked about that too.
Then something strange happened when I asked if she knew that I'm happy to have her in my class. She said no. "No matter how upset I get over her behavior at times," I explained, "that will never change. I love having you in my class, and you should always remember that."
I hope I can find a way soon to meet with her mom and dad to tell them what I told their daughter.
Posted by ruben_b at 6:45 PM
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
As I was walking through the halls of my school today, getting ready to pick up my students, a strange feeling coursed through me. I was looking at the bulletin boards of various classes when it hit me like an electric shock. I realized how proud I was of my school, and it felt great.
Posted by ruben_b at 8:40 PM
Monday, March 7, 2011
Last week one of my student's took $20 that wasn't hers. El Molestador and a buddy have been tormenting The Scowler. Baby Face continues his generally antisocial behavior. I have done my best to create a classroom based on clear expectations, consequences and rewards. But in spite of my efforts, it seems like my students are making the same mistakes over and over again.
Posted by ruben_b at 9:06 PM
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
It's been a busy week with plenty of stories to share. There was the student of mine who transferred schools abruptly without a chance to say goodbye, my post-observation meeting, and the girl who basically extorted $20 from another student. In all it hasn't been the easiest week back from break. But, as I've read the discussion surrounding layoffs and seniority, there's a recurring thread of half-truths that's too frustrating to ignore.
Posted by ruben_b at 8:13 PM