Archive for the Shop Talk (or something like it) Category

Twas the Week Before Summer

Posted in Shop Talk (or something like it) on May 23, 2010 by Magistra

Twas the week before summer
And all through the school
The students and teachers
Were starting to drool

The children were scattered
They couldn’t attend
To anything at all
That their teachers said

The teachers were Jonesing
It hurt when they’d think
All they could think of
Was tall frosty drinks

The principal was closed
In his office so messy
Hiding from parents
Who were getting quite testy

But the teachers who’d been teaching
For many long years
Danced and twirled down the hallways
All laughter and tears

These wise souls knew something
That made them so happy
They were retiring soon
And were getting quite sappy

But the rest of the bunch
I’m sorry to say
Were frazzled and goofy
During these last school year days

Little Peter in his Sketchers
And Sue in her Keds
Were bouncing off walls
Without all their meds

The behavioral kids
Were more stubborn than ever
Rolling their eyes
Declaring, “Whatever!”

Justine was emotional
Philip was sleepy
RayAnn was giddy
Georgio was weepy

In the midst of this chaos
So noisy and ruckus
Were the teachers with no time
To sit down on their tuckus

They were cleaning and grading
And wiping off tears
One eighty days of hard work
Summing up the long year

They’d crafted their lessons
And given their tests
They’d worked dawn till dusk
Without taking a rest

They’d fought for their students
For that which was right
And then been belittled
For fighting that fight

They’d payed out of pocket
For supplies and for treats
They knew what love was
Cherishing each of their sweets

Watching the news
Was depressing at best
They knew they’d be judged
By the scores on one test

Yet despite the attacks,
The drama, the tears,
These teachers kept going
For months turned to years

Devoted to teaching
Each child in the class
The teachers refused
So sit back and relax

And now at the end
Of another long year
Only one week to go
And what do we hear?

We hear laughter resounding
Down each of the halls
The teachers still teaching
One more lesson to all

About what it is
To be full of hope,
Tender in trial,
And to gracefully cope

And so they’ll exclaim
As kids run down the hall,
“Billy, I’ve told you a million times,
You’re going to fall!”

© Dulcinea 2010. All rights reserved.

End of the School Year Poems

Posted in Shop Talk (or something like it) on May 23, 2010 by Magistra

The bees are buzzing,
The birds and frogs are chirping,
And I grade papers
– Haiku

The beach is calling,
“Come and swim in the blue sea!”
But I must do work
– another Haiku

The drama of the school,
created not by children
but by adults who should know better,
is more than I can handle today.
– Tanka

© Dulcinea 2010. All rights reserved.

Teachers Should Talk Good?

Posted in Politics & Ulcers, Shop Talk (or something like it), Soapboxes on May 2, 2010 by Magistra

So in following the goings on in the Arizona law debate, I came across this interesting article in the Wall Street Journal: Arizona Grades Teachers on Fluency (Miriam Jordan, Wall Street Journal).  It tells about a new push to ensure students who are English language learners (ELL) have teachers who have a command over English not only in terms of grammar but also in terms of accent and teachers who speak English as a second language (ESL) themselves.  Fascinating!  It seems that there are many qualified and experienced teachers who are ESL that were hired in an attempt to diversify the teacher workforce.  However the concern is that ELL students may not be given the greatest advantage in learning alongside native speakers if their teacher doesn’t speak English well either.

Here are my thoughts:

English is the language of our city, state, and national governments, of the laws of our land, and of commerce.  Countries worldwide teach their students English.

Regardless how long a teacher has been teaching or why he or she was hired, it is their responsibility to have a command of the curriculum, including English.  Teachers are required to participate in ongoing education, keep themselves up to date on relevant research and technology, and maintain a standard of excellence in the eduction they provide.  Frankly, I don’t care what the motivation was behind hiring teachers without a command of the language or that English is not officially the national language.  The ultimate question here is not about what is best for the teachers but what is best for the students.

I care about the level of understanding a child can have over English when the teacher doesn’t have a command over the language.  I’m not simply looking at ELL students either.  English is the language used in math, science, social studies, and health books.  It is the language of the standardized tests students are subjected to yearly and on which schools are judged.  In a time when student achievement is a focal point of politics and the media, I find it fascinating that anyone would object to having teachers who speak English well.  Without a command over the language, no students can be expected to perform as well in school or later in life as their potential had they the ability to comprehend and communicate well the written and spoken language.

As a teacher, I know what it is to be concerned about the politics behind education today and the lack of concern over students as individuals.  I know what it is to be concerned that my job may be in jeopardy because my students may not be able to make the progress the government says they should make because teachers do not exist and teach in a vacuum; my students are affected by society, pop culture, their parents and the nurturing they received prior to stepping foot in my classroom.  I also know what it is to struggle to see students make progress learning how to write, read, or follow simple spoken directions because their spoken and written language in 3 or 4 years of school has been allowed to exclude the all important verb or a basic understanding of word order.  I have seen and work with teachers who use incorrect grammar daily in their lessons, conversations, and notes home.

Make no mistake about it: It is a disservice to students that they should receive an inadequate education, whether it is because a teacher is under-qualified, a danger to children, unwilling to grow as a teacher, or unable to teach using the language used in the texts, the tests, and higher levels of education.

© Dulcinea 2010. All rights reserved.

I Am A Teacher, Too

Posted in Politics & Ulcers, Shop Talk (or something like it), Soapboxes on May 1, 2010 by Magistra

I read a great article recently in NEA Today about how teachers feel about the lack of respect they receive despite their service.  It seems that in America today, teachers have become the whipping boy for lack of progress overall.  Complaints pour in from every corner.  Teachers aren’t teaching children respect.  They aren’t doing all they can to help students succeed; just look at their test scores.  Teachers are paid too much for what they do.  Being a teacher has turned into a never-ending battle to do what we are passionate about: reaching children.  One teacher in Florida found her voice and the voice of teachers across America as she wrote about what it is to be a teacher.  For those readers who share the aforementioned adverse opinions about teachers, I ask only that you will click the link below, read the article, and read the full text of Jamee Miller’s essay, “I Am a Teacher”.

A Cry for Respect for Educators

© Dulcinea 2010.  All rights reserved.

Silence… Golden?

Posted in Life & All That Jazz, Love or Hate (depending), Shop Talk (or something like it), Soapboxes on July 23, 2009 by Magistra

I realize Lau Tzu is considered to have been a great thinker and philosopher.  He was the one who said that think about teaching someone to fish instead of giving him a fish.  Ooo… wow… deep.  We smile, nod, agree, and consider the social programs in our modern day America.  But he wasn’t so smart or enlightened that he could convince me to be a Taoist.  I came across a quote of his that’s been bothering me since I read it.

Silence is a source of great strength.” -Lau Tzu

Hmm… and?!  “Keep your big mouth shut!”  “It’s better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and confirm it.”  “He was really cute till he opened his mouth to speak.”  Right?  I like all these statements.  I’ve used them all.  But this one from Tzu I hate.

I think this is a really arrogant statement.  If this is meant in the sense that one could gain strength in silence and solitude, it is true for some.  But this Duck loves to drive down the road with the radio blaring singing along, talking to herself, contemplating the best course of action, and somehow the songs that have the message that I need to hear come on and I feel strengthened in that.  Silence, not so much, but strengthened nonetheless.  If this statement is meant in the sense that you should speak less and listen more, I can only agree marginally.  Points in case:

~A person tries to cut in front of most of the rest of a long line in a store, and right in front of you.  Do you tell them where the end of the line is and point out that others have been waiting a long time to check out?

~You suspect a casual friend whom you also work is the source of unsavory and untrue rumors you’ve heard about yourself.  Do you confront this person or just cut them out of your personal affairs?

~A person you’re friends with is about to make a stupid decision, a decision just like all the other stupid decisions they’ve made in the past.  Do you point out their past failures and the likelihood that this is another stupid decision?

~Someone you like hurts you by falling through on some plans you had to do something.  Do you tell them how you feel or do you wait for her or him to make it better?

~Your best pal is casually seeing someone who you think is a tool.  Do you tell them or do you wait until they discover it for themselves?

~You are out someplace when you run into your ex; your relationship was very serious and he or she ended it very abruptly.  They approach and attempt to start awkward conversation.  Do you respond to their questions and converse?

~You suspect your significant other is cheating on you but you have no proof.  Do you ask?

~Somebody near you in a restaurant is being very rude to their server and complains to the management about him or her.  You’ve been the witness to the bad behavior all evening.  Do you also speak to the management sharing what your perception of the events was?

Silence is a source of great strength.” -Lau Tzu

Sometimes it is better to bite your tongue, to be silent, and that can be a difficult thing.  But sometimes the source of strength is to say something.  Some things are worth speaking up about.  It’s not always easy.  But it’s right.

© Dulcinea 2009. All rights reserved.