Monthly Archives: May 2013



Hi teachers;

hope you’ll contribute your story as a comment.  Four categories:  effective, dangerous, rating, or what kids need instead (of the war on teachers).

first person inspired teacher point of view  inspiring stories


tell a story about a time you felt really effective as a teacher, a rewarding experience that you had

tell a story about a dangerous or threatening occurrence

tell a story about your “U” rating.

tell a story about  what you think kids/ teachers/ administrators/ families need instead


Sarah’s story:


When the new edition of the school newspaper came out, It was always an exciting time for the school.  The articles were about many different school events and students loved to see their picture or favorite teacher.  The kids who wrote and laid out the articles, who took the pictures and set up the pages were charged with dividing the newspapers in classroom bundles and delivering them to the different advisories.  

In most classrooms, a quiet would fall over the room as the students read the stories!  It felt like the whole school was reading at the same time/  The newspaper club students had a real sense of pride and responsibility about their accomplishment.



I had a group of students in my afterschool program and it was a couple minutes before dismissal.

Kids were getting ready to go when a student came in and said not to dismiss.  I sent a responsible student to Mr L, who was teaching Lacrosse and had cancelled the dismissal.  The student quickly returned, telling us that students from our host school were outside the exit and were beating up our students as they left.  Mr. L was asking kids to use their cell phones to call parents to pick them up.  We all stayed later than usual that night to make sure every student got home safe.


U rated:

My “U” rating was based on one formal and two informal observations of the same dysfunctional class.  Bullying had been a problem since the earliest days of school, with five kids  showing aggressive behavior toward other students and getting referrals for it.  The roster was out of gender balance with 13 boys and seven girls. The bullying problem was never fixed.

A para was assigned to the class but was unavailable at the end of the day.   That was when I was observed.  Two of the observations were in the last week and a half of school, in the final double period of the day.   The new administration brought in a supervisor from our affiliated Elementary school to do the first observation.  Two months later, we bombed our visit from NY State with low student attention and a hallway fight and our Principal was fired.  The supervisor became Acting Principal. 

I was warned repeatedly that I was in danger of a “U” and the stress had a negative impact on my health.  I went to a therapist for the anxiety and depression.  A colonoscopy showed gastric disease where none had been a few years earlier.


What kids need instead:

Students and teachers need the support of the whole community.  Our school has been impacted by it’s “newness”, and the short term thinking that went with it.

Examples were sports programs and afterschool programs that were eliminated because of poor academics, when they could have been used as important incentives.  Not enough consistency, not enough recognition.

Staffing is a constant problem, with 30% vacancies filled by substitutes.  Yet teachers are threatened with dismissal! Yet another example of short sightedness is the disincentive for teachers to stay.  As many leave even more students will be without consistent teaching in a number of curriculum areas.


Principals need to be the coaches for their school team.  They need to be able to communicate well with teachers.  The Principal and the teachers should always see their goals as aligned, and seek common ground when it comes to students.   Principals should have the confidence of the school community, not just the Superintendent or Chancellor.


We’re wasting too much time, money and human capital on testing!  I  prefer portfolio based assessments,  but I could live with two standardized tests in the fall and spring of each year.  The data from these could help planning in curriculum and influence classroom learning goals.


Teachers need supplies!  The students we teach are unprepared surprisingly often, yet our school does not stock lined paper or pencils for teachers to give students. Every teacher I’ve talked to this year has complained about the inaccessibility of making copies.  Personally I spend a hundred dollars a year on paper and ink, printing from home because copying is not available at school.

I’ve been able to order classroom libraries, but what about school libraries?  I can’t get enough shelves in my room to stock enough books for the whole year.  This year I shared an English classroom with Math, Social studies and Science.  And technology.  We need full time tech people to make sure our computers  {and students computers) are aligned to printers.  Simple but crucial stuff!