Monday, September 12, 2011

The Antithesis of a Harvest Monday

Harvesting is sowing, reaping and enjoyment. It's sustenance, it's nourishment, it's knowledge and wonder.

Each year schools hire and displace teachers based on numbers. It's rare that a year goes by without fluctuations in that number on the county level and even if the county is spot on in their projections, where exactly the population falls within that county is up for grabs. A few years ago, my school was over projection and we gained an English teacher. Last year they made concessions that we were going to loose students and displaced more than 5 but under 10 teachers. Now, five weeks into the school year, more teachers are being displaced.

I understand that students move into and out of districts regularly. Our cluster is the only in the county that does not include the transient population of apartments, so our prediction numbers are generally off by a bit, but I do believe a lot of our problems with numbers stems from starting the school year in August where the general population of the country doesn't start until September. Therefore, we can't rely on accurate population numbers until after Labor Day. Thus, we (my school) is now approximately 150 kids short of projection.

What does this mean? It technically means we loose one administrator, one clerk and five teachers. Keep in mind, five teachers equals 25 classes of students that need to be absorbed. Our principal is wonderful. Even though loosing staff is inevitable, he brokered with the county to only have us loose 4 teachers. This is difficult on its own, but it still leaves us with three critical staff/faculty members which is better than were we started off.

For my department - that means I most likely will come out of the Learning Center which is a mandatory lunch time tutoring program for students who are failing 2 out of 4 academic classes. This is a program I've been with through its inception and for which I put my heart and soul towards since being certified in two content areas I can serve a wide range of students. Of our students we serviced at the start of the school year (all had failed 2+ academics spring of 2010), 50% of them are passing enough classes to exit now. Of that 50%, 67% were failing at this time last semester. There is an 8% school wide increase in passage rates from this point last year. The numbers don't lie. The program works by allowing and mandating students attend tutoring during the school day either voluntarily or through teacher and administrative assignment. I'll likely be able to stay for a half a period - but one half a period out of 6 possible doesn't make me feel productive in there. The LC is where I remembered why I became a teacher to begin with. Where else do you get to work one on one with struggling students and celebrate their successes with them.

However, the student population numbers don't lie. We're loosing four teachers, two of which are English which is 10 classes our department needs to absorb. Two of my senior lit classes are being disolved and with each at 26+ kids I don't know how many that will put in other classes. So I'm scheduled to pick up two new classes over all - who knows what grades and grade levels.

It's when we start overloading classes and taking away from the support tutoring like the Learning Center, we are no longer to harvest the knowledge what we have been.

It will all work out in the end. I know this as well as I know that I'll do anything I'm told or asked to do because my main focus is teaching and learning.

It's just sad for the teachers being displaced and those students in classes of a workable 26 students to have to go into ones with 32 +, but it is what it is.

Sorry to go on. I'm not upset, there's nothing to be upset about. It just is what it is, however, the next time someone comes at me with the state of public education today he better expect a certain finger to extend from my hand. I love my job. I have a purpose and I'll be doing it whether there are 17 or 43 kids in my class and regardless of if that means I can assign and grade fewer papers and I dare you to tell me I'm not. I'm not settling and I will not allow your children to either.

The end.


  1. As the husband of a teacher, I know exactly the frustrations you are talking about. Hang in there and do the best you can. When people like to bash teachers and our education, I just consider that they don't have a clue as to what it really means to be one. They watch 20/20 and see striking union teachers up in New York somewhere and just assume that all teachers are unionized slackers. They have no clue that Georgia has no teacher's union.

  2. You know, Kris, sometimes I wonder if we'd be better or not with a union. With unions come so many other problems.

    I just realized that I went all stream of conciousness on everyone and forgot to circle back around to sowing knowlege and harvesting graduates, but hopefully people got the point.

  3. That is a whole lot of frustration to have to deal with, especially at the start of the year, I don't envy you, but I'm glad it looks like you are safe! I can't imagine teaching classes that large, whew!

  4. As a parent that is choosing to educate at home due to the state of our public schools it saddens to me to hear teachers feel as though they are under fire. Of coarse there are 'bad teachers', but in my experience most have the children's best interest at heart, and do the best they can with what they are given.

    Personally, I think parents are responsible for a good chunk of the blame as to why our students are not being educated well. If the parent (or parents) don't place a lot of value on going to school to learn, and don't teach good morals at home than what is the school going to accomplish, even under the best circumstances?? Not much.

    Enjoy your 3rd book in series when it arrives, your students must think so highly of you. :)