Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Happy 2020!

I want to wish every reader of this blog a happy, healthy and prosperous 2020. It's a new decade. Let's start clean and look forward.

Danielson is not the end-all be-all, especially if you're gifted with a Boy Wonder supervisor who wouldn't know a competent teacher if one were beating him over the head. Look at your interactions with kids and see who you're helping. Your help, in fact, is not limited to making kids pass tests.

I always recall my friend, a Chinese teacher, telling me about a conversation she heard in her classroom.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. I can't pass the English Regents exam."

"Why don't you take Goldstein's class?"

"Why? Is it good?"

"No. It's terrible. You will hate it. But you'll pass the test."

That was a kind of sideways compliment. Back then, the English Regents exam entailed writing. I made the students write until their hands were about to fall off at the wrist. What did they learn? Well, hopefully they learned how to pass that English Regents exam. Of course, they didn't learn how to pass the current Regents exam. More importantly, they didn't learn how to write.

This year, I'm grateful I don't have to teach to the exam. I'm at liberty to teach kids the English they need to know for their everyday lives. The students who want to learn that know I'm here to support and help them. Those who aren't mad at me for confiscating their phones are mostly happy to be in my classroom.

Am I making them college and career ready? You'd better believe it. Students who don't know how to use English are not college and career ready even if they score highly enough on the arbitrary group of tests the geniuses in Albany claims to equal college and career ready. I'm also fortunate that I don't work for a Boy Wonder. I'm sorry if you do. I've seen them up close and personal and I know how discouraging they are.

We all need to find ways to sidestep negative influences in our lives. If your boss is one, I hope you can find a way to keep the nonsense out of your head. It's very tough. But you can do it. I don't always agree with blogger Chaz, but he's worked out a way to cope with being an ATR that's smarter and more effective than any I'd have come up with. He's resolved himself not to let it interfere with his plans, and he's navigated this system better than anyone I've ever known. He's found something inside himself, and we all have reserves we've never known. Sometimes adversity brings it out.

Sometimes we can look within and find a solution. Sometimes we have colleagues who help and support us. Sometimes we find external support, and sometimes we do all of the above.

In any case, if you're blessed to be in a good situation, I'm happy for you. If not, I hope one way or another it improves. It's a new decade, and a new outlook isn't easy. But it can work wonders.

I wish you a great 2020, and a great new decade!
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