Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm very angry right now

Once again, I'm contemplating how wise it is to be writing in my online journal when I have just sent a text book flinging across my classroom in hopes of minimizing my rage. The textbook will recover, but I'm still very very angry. We make plans here at McReynolds and I get excited about those plans and I commit myself to them and I have a positive attitude about them and then all the plans get shot to hell and no one really seems to care. If you have gathered by now, I'm quite anal retentive. I like plans. I like structure. I like to know what I'm doing, when I'm doing it and why it's important. I am definitely not working with people who feel the same way. Over two weeks ago we made a TAKS writing plan (the written composition test that takes place in February for our 7th graders) that involved them writing a prompt, revising it, us spending a day as a team grading it and then individually conferencing with them over their work. The plan involved us (me and the department chair since Mallory's sub doesn't do time after school) spending our professional development half day doing the grading with some consultants we've been working with. I thought this was a great plan. I thought maybe for once we might follow through. Anyone not getting that I thought wrong?

Instead of having all the time allotted in our professional development day to work on grading the essays, we got an hour. Yep, that's right. One whole hour to look at 165 written pieces of work and give productive feedback. Instead of being released to work on grading, we got to stay in a staff meeting which was 20 percent productive and 80 percent big waste of time. My department chair made it clear that she was going to church tonight and therefore would not be staying after 4 p.m. to grade. Instead of reading the prompts together we are to read them separately and make a list of the number of 1 papers, 2 papers, 3's and 4's. So much for our first significant attempt at working together. I'm frustrated with this school, with my principal and with her (some of her kids only wrote a paragraph because "they're lazy". Maybe if you got off your freaking butt and worked with them at all they would have had more. The only child who gave me less than a page was Jimmy and that was because he refused to write anything. I still think this is my fault). I'm also frustrated with myself. We picked a writing prompt that I thought was good, but as it turns out is rather non-open-ended. This means I will have a harder time showing my kids how to improve their writing because I gave them a prompt that gave them less to work with. This on top of my benchmark scores being considerably lower than my last scores equals not a very good teaching week for Ms. Thompson.

I should really start grading the 65 prompts I need to have read by tomorrow, but right now I'm just too angry to do anything. Some days it just feels like I'm running around in circles. Why is my school so set on teamwork and collaboration when they don't give us any time to do it? Why does my department chair think that complaining about time restraints and lazy children is an effective use of any meeting time? Why do I find it so hard to just express my true opinion to her instead of hiding in my classroom? Maybe we would be able to collaborate if I would just push her to be more proactive. Some days all of this is just so exhaustingly frustrating.

I think I'm going to go down and watch some of my students at their basketball game before I get tempted to have more of my books defy gravity.

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