Thursday, July 21, 2011

How they have to spend their summer vacation

I work in a D75 school, at an offsite in a class of alternate assessment kids. Almost all the students in D75 have a mandated 12 month year. I chose not to work this summer for two very good reasons: 1. I'm getting married and 2. I was feeling so burnt out that I was worried I'd snap and end up in The Post under some badly rhyming or punning headline: "Miss Rim, Filled to the Brim, Abuses Kids in the Gym"

But I truly adore my kids and my job, and I missed them, so I popped in for a visit. After being waylaid by various office people who wanted to give me the gossip, I was happy to catch them off guard, throw open the classroom door and yell, "You guys are tearing me apart!!!" (inside classroom joke, folks.) I got my fill of the hugs and cootchie - coos . (Yes, I do give my kids hugs sometimes. And I will continue to do so. So there.)

I asked about the "theme" for summer school and was told it was "Picturing America." OK, great. Most of my kids are really, really interested in maps and states and countries and other cultures. (One kid told me his dream was to go to "Montreal-bec" Canada and eat creme brulee - aside from the violence, I have a dream class)  So I was excited for them. And a little bit envious, I was thinking of all kinds of cute things I would like to try with them with respect to that theme.

But apparently, this summertime theme for the school - which has many sites, is K-12 with students that run the gamut of classifications, was not modified for the younger student or AA kids. It was some group of paintings from some museum education course. Which would be fine, kind of - but each class got a painting and had to write about what it reminds them of - which is still fine, kind of - but my class got a painting of the 1st COntinental Congress. To write about.

Now I know all kinds of ways to do writing with my kids even if they can't hold pencils. So do my colleagues. But the 1st continental congress? Come on! The summer teacher in my class, who is a gem, but has very little experience with this population asked what I thought they should do. When I asked some of them what does this picture remind them of....well, the word remind is hard for I asked what it looked like and they said "History." "Grandpa" "Dress" and my favorite, "Computer."

I kinda sat there agog for a minute - but being an AA teacher - you get kind of used to that (I swear AA teachers are probably THE most creative). So I finally told her what I my two top choices... I'd kinda sabotage it....After ass kissingly asking for some help  /ideas / or resources (which likely wouldn't happen) I'd simply make BB with the paintng and their actual reactions: "grandpa" "computer" etc... OR, since I care about the kids,  I'd pick another, more familiar picture out of the set (like the one of the White House, which I hear 11th graders got) and ask the kids what they know about that. They know Obama lives there, they  know the George Washington lived there - even tho he didn't, they kinda get the president thing.

I am tenured, by the way.

Really, this is often the plight of the D75 teacher and their students. With this new observation rubric, and all the other edupeak hullabaloo coming down the line, which D75 schools are expected to follow to the letter - doing this kind of thing looks good "on paper." But I'd love, love, love to see someone show me what these expectations would look like with our kids.

 Seriously - show me and I'll stop with the un - rigorous crap I do. "Computer!"

Coming up: The un-rigorous education D75 teachers provide.

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