Friday, April 21, 2017

500 Students a Week

That's how many students PE teachers can see. Under NY State regulations, a student in a five day gym class gets .58 credit a semester. But a student in a three/ two class, that is three days a week semester one, and two days semester two, gets .50 credit a semester. Not much of a loss for half the time, right? And easier to make up now that it's only half the time.

On top of that, you can actually reduce your PE staff by half with no issue. The gym teacher used to teach only one class period two, but now teaches two classes. And on the other three, or two days, you can program a music class, or an art class, because consistency in those subjects is just as unimportant as consistency in PE classes. And the music teachers, who also have fifty students per class, can also see 500 students a week. What could go wrong?

Let's start with the 500 students. How do you even learn their names? Are you even supposed to? And if you aren't, where do they come off judging you by the one-size-fits-all infallible Danielson rubric? I mean, if I'm teaching kids to play basketball, am I supposed to act like a coach? Or am I supposed to stop every twelve minutes and have them do a writing exercise? Should I have them turn and talk? What did this basketball game mean to you? How did you feel when I interrupted it to have you write a paragraph so the person observing me wouldn't rate me ineffective? Let me show you this PowerPoint presentation explaining the History of Cement, which was the precursor to these wooden planks on which we play today. You will love it. But if you don't you will watch it anyway.

Of course, as a teacher, you have to carefully figure when you show that PowerPoint. Because, you know, your Monday, Wednesday, Friday class is 33% ahead of your Tuesday, Thursday class. So you have to calculate mathematically which lesson to give when, because perish forbid they should be one solitary minute ahead of your other class. No, plans must be followed, and it will be eighteen days exactly before the Tuesday, Thursday class can see this PowerPoint.

Naturally, you have to give essay tests to your 500 students. The only way to prepare for that accurately, according to your supervisor, who claims to have been trained in this stuff, is to have PE notebooks. And the only way you can make sure your students don't copy into this vital PE notebook info is to have them never, ever use computers. Also, you can't trust the kids not to copy from one notebook to another, so you need to keep the notebooks in school, all 500 of them, in some location TBD by teacher. After all, it's important that teachers get a voice in how this work is done. That's what makes their jobs so fulfilling. That, and grading 500 essays on the inner workings of volleyball, because they have nothing better to do. Of course they will use a rubric for this.

So just pass out the 50 notebooks every day, after the kids change, and after a brief warmup, and have them sit on the floor to write the essays. After all, PE isn't just running around and indulging in sports. This is about rigor, not enjoyment. If you were to teach the kids to love to play volleyball, well, then they'd just want to play volleyball and they'd never want to write that all-important 500-word essay on why they love to play volleyball, even though your meticulously crafted Danielson-based lesson ensures they will hate volleyball whether they would have liked it or not.

So, yeah, give all the PE teachers so many classes that they can't even learn student names. That's a good step. Then ask them to do all the crap that every Danielson lesson wants. For goodness sake, don't acknowledge that their goals may be different than the goals in the algebra class, because every class is really the same, and it's important to formulate questions based on degrees of knowledge. All that joy in sport and physical exercise, well, that's for the pros. If we'd wanted students to enjoy physical exercise we wouldn't have placed them in a half-time class. We wouldn't have let them know we care so little about this discipline that we're not even bothering to reinforce it each and every day, like we do with every other class.

And hey, for the other half, we'll dump in music and art, because we don't give a crap about that either. If it doesn't terminate in a state exam, if teachers and students aren't rated on it, we're not gonna worry about it. All that enjoyment and passion stuff is for losers. We at NY State Education Department know what's important.

And no we're not telling you specifically what's important, because we might change our minds tomorrow morning.

That's how we roll.
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