Ahhh yes, the end of August. The time when we teachers are frantically scrambling to replace all of the things we had to put away in the middle of June so our rooms could be cleaned. The time when we are trying to figure out how to implement all of the amazing things we have learned over the summer while we connected with people from around the world.
The time when we sit through inservice or professional development days and want to stab our eyes out.
Don't get me wrong. Parts of the day, like this morning, were very enlightening. While tendious, I sat and viewed the files of all 88 students on our team via our data warehouse software (which apparently does approximately 500 reports, just not the ones we want so we do them by hand!) and identified how many students scored Advanced, Proficient, Basic and Below Basic on their third grade reading PSSA (state assessment) last year. Like I said, very tedious, but I feel like I learned some interesting things about our kids and our curriculum. For example, out of all of our students, only 12 were proficient on the anchor about figurative language. Either that was an invalid question or we're not doing a very good job teaching figurative language in third grade. I "met" a young man who completely aced the two nonfiction sections on the test and completely bombed the fiction sections. I can't wait to see if he just loves nonfiction that much, if it was the topics of the passages in the test, or what it is that makes this little guy tick. Our purpose, besides learning interesting tidbits like these two I just mentioned, was so that our "team could develop individual and team goals about how we can help our students achieve proficient levels during the next school year." For our team to be successful, a brief over view leads me to believe that focusing on summarizing both fiction and nonfiction, determining important information, making connections to text, and understanding figurative language will help our students' better understand the information they're reading.
Then I got to go and see a draft of our new progress reports. So here - spend 3 hours looking at data to see what your kids need, but here's what you're going to teach them each marking period no matter what they really need.
Maybe it's just how I define "standards based" but to me that means there is a list of standards and you say wow this child is blowing it out of the water, yep this child is right where he or she needs to be, or we're working to help this child make progress towards this standard. And then you give evidence: writing pieces, recordings of readings, demonstrations, and projects to prove why the child is where he or she is on that contiuum. I would like to do something like this. I would like to do something to involve the students, but we all have to be the same. Common assessments, common reporting.... but what if I want more???
It's sad, and it's frustrating. Education is such a big system, after days like this I wonder if there really is anything I can ever do to change it. I express my opinions and get knowing nods of, "I know, but my hands are tied," from some and eyes rolled from others who think I'm just being a squeaky wheel. But if I'm not the squeaky wheel, then who will be? Who will change things for our kids??
So today I'm frustrated and feel like an ant trying to move an 18-wheeler. But I'll keep pushing because you just never know what might happen.