Building day

Today we had what is called a “building day.”  What this means, apparently, is that students get the day off so everyone in the building can work on teachery things.  The first part of the morning was dedicated to a building-wide meeting.  The staff has decided to focus this year on formative assessment, and so they are participating in a series of professional development seminars/meetings to learn more about ways to increase their use of formative assessment.  I sat at a table with several other interns and math teachers.  One of them, M, showed considerable resistance to the training.  He chose to grade tests rather than participate in the planned activities, and kept saying that he preferred direct instruction to group work.  As we are using complex instruction in the mathematics department, this is an unfortunate preference for him.

During the late morning the math department met as a whole to discuss some issues.  I was unclear as to what our objectives were, but it seemed that it had a lot to do with discussing the upcoming visit and meeting with the district superintendent and other high-level administrators planned for Monday. The administration had asked the staff to prepare a list of requests and recommendations for things they could be doing to help mathematics teachers have more success raising test scores.  The requests seemed very reasonable, and I had trouble understanding why they weren’t already being done.  I find I have this reaction pretty regularly when I spend time in public schools.  Yes, they do lots of good things.  But sometimes decisions are made (usually by the administration) that makes me wonder if they know that they’re administering a school, where people are meant to learn things.  They seem to behave sometimes as if they are administering a workplace set up for their own amusement and comfort.  I try not to have a bad attitude about this, but some days it’s very difficult.

The morning meeting was pretty productive, but I think would have been better if my group members had all been interested in participating.  The afternoon was the most productive, when we were free to work however we wanted.  I spent time working with another teacher candidate on planning the lessons for our next chapter in algebra, a class we’re both helping to teach.  I am excited about this collaborative process, as I am already learning a lot about planning, and I have yet to write a single lesson!

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