Yesterday I found this story on the New York Times page. The gist of the story is three American siblings attended an experimental school in Moscow where instruction is only in Russian and classes are videotaped to improve teaching for four years as their father worked as the Russian correspondent for the Times.
The video is fascinating. If you have time please watch all 10 minutes. If you have more time, please read all six pages.
I struggle a great deal with being a teacher. There are many reasons for this. For starters, I grew up with a wonderful rolemodel…my mother. She is one of the best early childhood teachers ever. Second, I student taught, then worked abroad in a progressive international school. My first real job was in my ideal teaching situation. I then came back to Oklahoma where I worked in a small public school with high socio-economic status and parent support (financially and academically) out the wazooo. This school didn’t focus on test scores. My spoiled career continued.
I was then shipped across the US to South Carolina. Poor school, poor kids, testing crazy, but they were still focused on best-practices and gave teachers immense amounts of professional development and control over the curriculum planning (probably why the district was so poor…they spent a lot).
Next comes Texas. Rich district, rich kids, high achievers. Robot teaching. Robot kids. I was miserable.
We all know I moved to the SA for Farm Boy, but only because the job seemed ideal. Teaching GT gave me a chance to focus on something other than rote testing skills.
So much for that.
Today I’ve been sitting on my couch grading since 8:30 a.m. It is now almost noon. As I look at the work I’m grading, the lack of authentic assessment makes me ill. Math worksheet after math worksheet. Their creative writing for Constitution Day littered with spelling so poor I can’t figure out the meaning (forget complete sentences…). Journal entries that are pretty much just carbon copies of what I modeled, but I don’t even care because I know someone will be looking at these and I don’t want them to look like crap.
This is not why I became a teacher.
SO I watch this video and I think something has to change. Mostly me. I don’t know if I will be able to do the teaching I love as long as I teach at a public school in the United States.
I’m still not a happydally.