Thursday, September 10, 2015

Another Year on the Front

I used to think of my workplace as a home away from home.  My school felt like that in so many ways.  There were the familiar faces of long-term colleagues who had become close friends.  I still find my friends at school, yet, upon my return, I find so much else has been turned topsy-turvy.

There was once a sense of comfort.  Not only did I already possess the golden key to the bathroom, I possessed the all-important knowledge of where to go to find things and who to go to.  I, in fact, had become one of the go-to people, myself.  But don't ask me today where one can find the teacher lounge.  It disappeared during the Bloomberg years.  It has never returned.

In this present era of ed. "reform," we are living with "creative disruption."  School communities have been turned upside down--if not all-out closed.

People now come and go at a frightening pace.  Long-term colleagues have retired.  Too many have been driven out of the profession.  So many tried to seize their retro last June.  And, it seems, citywide, many newbies don't last the first few years.  Tenure is never within their grasp.  ATRs wander in and out, and with each one, there is the sense that it might have been me.

Every year, we now face new mandates, usually unfunded and poorly thought out.  There are new evaluation systems, coming and going.  The threat of invasion by alien forces known as "outside observers" looms large.

Our school has installed a new alarm system upon its doors, per Avonte's Law.  In the name of student safety, in our case that of high-school students, one might sense education under the auspices of a police state, a school which seems to have become not so much a pipeline, as the prison, itself.  Good for our attendance stats, I guess!

Curriculum has been turning on its head.  Although history rarely changes, last year we had to reorder, and in some cases rewrite, the entire ninth-grade social-studies curriculum.  Now, we are told ninth-grade material will no longer be on the Regents.  At a time when the Core is coming down the pipeline with its designs to fail a generation of kids, we have only a vague notion of the nature of the new test...or of our impending doom.

We have a new data system in place.  I tried to move gracefully through ARIS to Daedalus.  Last year, I managed to generate a great many letters home from Daedalus, many bearing praise, more of encouragement to perform the work necessary to pass.  I even learned how to save my Daedalus file to my desktop for the inevitable moment when the printer would fail and sixty letters suddenly vaporize.  Daedalus is now dead.  Long live "Datacation."  It will be tied to Skedula.  Before learning the ins and outs of this new system, however, one has to wonder how long it will last.

Perhaps all this stress is a test for teachers, a test for the real world.  But if I had wanted so much "creative disruption" in my life, I might have chosen the business world instead, earned more money and societal respect.  Instead, I chose a job which I thought would provide stability and a sense of community.  These things are necessary for children and comforting to me as an adult.  Sadly, these things are rapidly disappearing.  It affects adults and I can't help but thinking it must also adversely affect our children.
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