Friday, December 9, 2011

A miscellany of comments before I get back to blogging for realz...

Hello, all.
Took a break from blogging due to knee surgery. I  took a week off of work, and had to hobble around on a cane for a while. I have the following comments / questions/ complaints about the last few months of work:

-It is  borderline criminal that the school I am co located with places 4, 5, 6  year old students with mental retardation (intellectual disability, whatever they're calling it these days) who need PT to walk up and down 4 flights of stairs several times daily. I noticed it before, but hobbling around after surgery really made me empathize. And I had a dr.'s note excusing me from walking my kids to lunch/gym and fire drills!

- What do we think about the change in terminology from "Mental Retardation" to "Intellectual Disability" in the classification of disability? Of course the term "retardation" has it's negative connotations, and it's obvious this is an attempt to be sensitive. But I dislike the  use of the word "intellectual" - depending how you define "intellect", any one of us could have "intellectual" deficiencies/ disabilities. If it's got to be change, I like the word "cognitive" better. But the MR term has been around for so long and from where I'm sitting, so many parents I work with have enough trouble accepting that their child is, indeed, mentally retarded that the change of terms is confusing. And, any second now, other kids will start calling other kids "intellectualy disabled" and then that will have the same connotations as "retard."
*Also, what will the kids in Boston do? "The Red Sox played wicked intellectually disabled last night?"*
Let's call a duck a duck. No, strike that. Or qualify it: a duck with spots, a duck with a white feather, etc. A child is a child. A child could be a child with mental retardation or autism or....well, you know what I mean. This could be a fantastic paper topic for someone who loves semantics.

- All these iPads? They're killing me! I have had more administrative "visits" and" walk  - throughs" and "informal observations" in the last 3 months than in the last 5 years of teaching.I get it, I really do. One must justify the acquiring of an iPad from the DOE by using it. In theory,  my school (and probably most others) uses it  provide feedback, share best practices, and chart student and teacher growth.
 In practice,  what happens is an administrator will pop in without so much as a "Hello" snap pictures of bulletin boards or student work, send it to another administrator to with mostly negative - and very vaguely worded I might add "feedback." Then the other administrator has to to show the classroom teacher in person the feedback and when we ask for specifics about what was wrong... well you get it - it's a very adult game of "Telephone."  And" Gotcha!"  Then, teachers begin to feel, tense, nervous, fearful and "watched." Not a good combination to excel at a craft.
All that puts a bee in my bonnet, but what really makes buzz is this: there are some administrators that are very literal and logical to a fault - but there are enough out there that can use this technology in the right way and direct others to do so as well.
What if  AP Sally popped in my room with her iPad and said, "Hello, Miss Rim! I'd like to take a picture of this ____to share with others. I think it's good strategy because of _____. Do you mind? " (what teacher minds that?)
 Or alternately, AP Beth popped in to my room with her iPad and said "Miss Rim,  I don't think this _____ is working well because of ____. I think that the way you can improve it is ____ . Maybe we can share it with other teachers and get their suggestions. Can I take a picture of it, and after you've incorporated some suggestions and improved it, I''l take another  picture and we can use it to chart your "growth "/ to help other teachers?"
It's not that hard, people. With great iPads comes great responsibility.
PS- Annie Sullivan, the "Miracle Worker" had no technology as we know it, no paperwork, portfolios, etc and no administrator. Just sayin'

-And finally-at  my D75 school, in my  12:1:1 alternate assessment class  -3rd to 5th grade, so between 8 and 10 years old- there are WISC - scale IQ scores  between 35 and 68. Pretty big range, but not atypical of an AA class. And within that scope there are students who are nearing grade level at, say...phonics but when it comes to other skills like comprehension or identyfing money - they;re all over the place. It's hard.

And that's the subject of my next "for realz" blog - "What about MY kids?"

NYC education bloggers: Been reading you all in the meantime,love what you're saying. Special shout outs to Mr. A Talk, Sweetgirl Tracie, and South Bronx.

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