Thursday, July 30, 2009
Budget cuts send many teachers home
overcrowding in Classrooms is not a joke
Deadlines that require after 8pm and
to do lists are Endless and regenerative
Faculty favorites do little work
Teaching = Grueling hours because of
Hostile, disrespectful students
Piles of paper – Immense and monotonous
Juggling meetings and grading papers
Fear of being stabbed with everything and a Knife
Lack of security
stress induced headaches; Major aches and pains
Necessary – most of it is not
Preparing students for tests they don’t care to pass
lunch breaks too short to even be called Quick
Resting a moment – unthinkable
Tennis shoes for hundred dollars, but they can’t buy pens and paper
Furloughs, Unpaid, making a small take home even smaller
Vain administrators ignore teacher needs
June and July is all We wait for
X-rays sometimes needed
Parents don’t talk; they Yell
Zero tolerance for teachers who speak out
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Students fight in the cafeteria and graffiti restroom walls with soap and maxi-pads. In group meetings, teachers are encouraged to ask for help but are emotionally pummeled for even the smallest request. One printer cartridge and one ream of copy paper must last each teacher the entire school year—not to worry, they can buy supplies out of pocket at cost. They’re also required to find their own substitutes or show up for work, no matter how incapacitated they are.
The author is wonderful at creating situations and moving the plot forward via e-mail, school announcements and the occasional conversation, navigating easily between the hilarious and the tragic. Characterizations are spot-on despite minimal description of individuals or setting. It all rings true until the final plot twist when the author slightly overplays a nearly perfect hand. Bitter broth for the soul, for teachers left behind in the American school system.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
First/Last Day Cake
• 1 box yellow cake mix, without pudding (yes I said box because everything should not be done the hard way).
• 1 box (3 ½ oz) instant vanilla pudding (please see the previously mentioned note).
• 4 eggs
• 1 cup milk
• 1 shot of Canadian Club whiskey (1 ½ oz)
• ½ cup cooking oil (I use vegetable just because it’s the healthy thing to do)
• 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
Additional ingredients for the Cake Topping:
• ¼ pound (1 stick) butter
• 1 cup sugar
• ½ cup Canadian Club whiskey
• 1 Bottle of the tastiest/cheapest wine you can find (not used for any portion of the cake, but gee, it tastes good going down). Add an additional bottle of wine for each additional group member.
Now get the cooking party started:
1) Place any George Clooney movie in the DVD/TV player in your kitchen. For extra flavor, select one of the Ocean’s movies – that way you can have a George, Matt, and Brad trio. Looking at them will make the stirring more fun. Be sure and have your first glass of wine when George Clooney appears on screen the first time.
2) Combine the cake mix, pudding, eggs, milk, whiskey (shot glass), oil, and walnuts.
3) Mix for 3 minutes then pour into a greased floured tube pane.
4) If exhausted after all this work, please have another glass of wine.
5) Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.
6) While cake is baking, remember to lust over George Clooney with wine and friends. During the last five to ten minutes of bake time, be sure and pre-make your syrup topping.
7) Remove cake from oven, but leave the cake in the pan.
8) Poke holes with a meat fork in the top of the cake.
9) Pour about two thirds of the syrup topping (see directions below) over the cake and let stand for about thirty minutes.
10) Remove the cake from the pan and pour the remaining syrup over the cake.
11) Enjoy with more wine, friends, and George.
**Syrup Topping directions:
To make the topping, melt the butter, add the sugar and whiskey and cook until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is syrupy.
Monday, May 25, 2009
With that said, I was shocked speechless when one of my students presented me with a beautiful rose and the most softest of teddy bears and told me quietly in the hallway, away from all her peers, that I was the most wonderful teacher in the world. Again I was quite speechless, for this young lady, whom I shall call Maria, had been quite a handful. Her mind was more on young men and shocking her parents and other authority figures than it was on her studies. She so rarely did her homework (perhaps seven or eight times the entire school year) that I actually applauded in class when she turned an assignment in to me. After I gained my composure, I told Maria, “thank you” and gave her a brief hug.
When we entered the classroom, Maria returned to her usual self, promptly cussing out the young lady who sat next to her for presumably stealing a priceless pencil. I let them bicker for a moment (after all it was the last day of school), and as the other students got in on the debate, I smiled. This is what they had done all year, over the smallest of things. But for one moment, I had seen a different side of just one of them, and for that reason, perhaps I would find my way inside of a classroom in August.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
For the sake of full disclosure, my own personal perspective on the current state of our public school system is not always very positive. I speak as a parent of an elementary school student (in a local public school), as well as the wife of a former public high school teacher. We live in an urban setting, with overcrowded schools and an ever-persistent eye on the almighty test scores (which is of course, a direct watch on school funding, sadly). So, like all readers, I went into this book with my own personal baggage, and I wondered where it would take me.
Told mostly through a series of email correspondences, intermixed with brief interactions among the key players of the school setting as well as short poetry pieces, No Teachers Left Behind doesn't paint a rosy picture. From the ridiculously double-standarded principal, whose emails left a literal bad taste in my mouth, to the combative work environment that pits support staff and teachers against each other, this setting is troublesome to say the least. The expectations for teachers to manage their students with little administrative support for discipline referrals (even in-school suspensions count against the attendance record, which of course is taken into account when determining a school's Adequate Yearly Progress), got to be so overwhelming that I found myself asking my husband if the events could be realistic at all. Sadly, his responses were affirmative time and time again, either from direct experiences or from stories he's heard in the field.
Is there a degree of exaggeration or absurdity in this book? Absolutely, I won't deny that, but I don't think the entire book should be lumped into that category. There are fault lines in our entire public education system, and they are deeply embedded. The cracks are visible at the surface, though, if we take the time to examine the actual school environments. HBF Teacher offers up a fictional account of the experiences of today's teachers, with the reader left wondering exactly how much is actually fictional.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
ATLANTA, Ga. – Each year at the onset of spring, students excitedly count down the days until the last day of school. But increasingly, teachers are becoming far more anxious for that day to come than their students. Faced daily with belligerent parents, a tremendous lack of resources, lack of compassion from administrators and dismal student performance, many are looking forward to a much-needed reprieve. However, while the average teacher will spend the summer trying to recover from their grueling year, one local teacher is making her voice heard, and giving teachers, parents, administrators and legislators something to reflect on over the next few months. In her new book, “No Teachers Left Behind”, she anonymously tells her story and the story of her peers, delivering a wake-up call for anyone with a stake in Georgia’s schools.
While “No Teachers Left Behind” is a work of fiction, it’s based on real life experiences and regular occurrences in Georgia’s public schools. The book’s lead character, Hopeful But Frustrated Teacher (HBF Teacher) gives a voice to dedicated teachers who attempt to make a difference, but whose efforts are constantly thwarted by the inequities and flaws in the school system. At Vilyon Middle School, the fictitious school in which the book takes place, good teachers are rarely recognized or afforded opportunities for advancement. Parents work against the teachers, refusing to form collaborative partnerships for the benefit of the students. Administrators are lenient in disciplinary actions because suspensions count against attendance and lower the school’s overall scores. And that’s only a part of the story.
“In the book and in the real world, teachers are not provided with the necessary tools that we need to help our students succeed,” said the author of “No Teachers Left Behind”. “If you want to know who’s really being left behind in the American public school system, take a closer look at the teachers. What we are given to work with is too often what we don’t need, and what we need, we are not given – only reasons why we can’t have it. When you speak to an administrator, they dismiss constructive criticism and suggestions about how we can work together to improve our schools, and this is very disheartening for teachers like me who want to change the world.”
“No Teachers Left Behind” is primarily written for veteran and aspiring teachers, administrators, politicians and parents. Through poetry, scene excerpts and email conversations, the book gives a voice to frustrated teachers, and sheds light on how overpaid administrators, unsupportive parents and students who show little respect for authority have impacted the educational system. The author has already received support and feedback from other teachers who have experienced many of the challenges and flaws exposed in the book, and are encouraged to see their story in print.
When asked if she is likely to be teaching in Georgia in the next five years, the author of “No Teachers Left Behind” admits that she would have to change schools, or see a changing of the guard in the administration. However, despite the challenges and disappointments that she’s experienced, she - much like HBF Teacher - tries to remain hopeful about the future of Georgia schools.
“There’s always hope – that’s the only thing that Pandora left in the box,” said the author. “But I have a number of concerns. Teachers are not represented or heard when decisions are made regarding educational policy, and that job is left up to far too many people who don’t have the teachers’ or the students’ best interests at heart. Ideally this book can help bring about some of the positive changes needed to turn things around.”
To learn more about “No Teachers Left Behind” and the author, or to purchase a copy, visit www.noteachersleftbehind.info.
The author prefers to remain anonymous, however interviews with the author can be arranged by sending a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Title: No Teachers Left Behind
Author: HBF Teacher
Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: 2nd Avenue Publishing
Date: March 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Forget what you have seen on those made for television movies, and forget what you have read in those “to good to be true” inspiring non-fiction books, No Teachers Left Behind tells the real story, through a collection of poetry, fictional emails, and fictional conversations, of what it’s like to be a public school teacher in America.
This is a humorous yet thought provoking novella that will have you wondering who is really being left behind in public education.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Every day teachers are being told that they will no longer have jobs in August. Boy have things changed! Once upon a time, education was the way to go because there would always be children in need of an education. Today, teachers are losing their jobs because of budget cuts, and other teachers are dealing with overcrowded classrooms as a result of the budget cuts.
There are very few raises for teachers and those that do exist, are so small that they are almost unnoticeable. The number of teachers is decreasing while the number of administrators is increasing. All those who are currently in teacher education programs will find themselves SOL (shit out of luck) for a while, with the exception of those who are brave enough to attempt the rigid subjects of Science and Math.
During the days of Little House on the Prairie and still today in many foreign countries, teachers were and are placed on pedestals and seen as family members. Here in the US, teachers are assaulted physically and verbally by their students who do not fear a consequence. Parents, who deny the truth about their own children, yell and scream at teachers at though it is our fault that all children are not motivated and gifted. Administrators, who are generally working in self preservation mode, too often take the sides of parents without even listening to the teachers whom they hired.
When did it all change? When did teachers lose respect?