Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Teacher Talk Tuesday

I've got to pace myself, so I am going to try to stick to my NaBloPoMo schedule on a few days of the week, Tuesday being one of them. So, welcome to the first edition of Teacher Talk Tuesday, 2008.

My district has 3 fairly large high schools (1200, 1600 and 2100 students). Even though many of you probably think of Iowa as being rural, which it is, I live in an urban area. Our minority population is about 35%, with African Americans being the largest minority, Latinos the second and Asians the smallest, although we do have a significant Vietnamese population. The percentage of students who receive either free or reduced lunch is about 40%.

2 of our schools do "High Schools that Work", which from what I've heard is really "Teachers Who do a LOT of Busy Work". I haven't heard much positive about it, surprise surprise since it seems to be typical "someone went to a workshop and bought into someone else's canned cure-all for all that ails the public schools".

Our school does PLCs (which I am very fond of calling Placs, because it irks those who are gung-ho and because it has the tooth guck connotation). They are really called Professional Learning Communities. We have hitched our wagon to this and have as our model a very large, very affluent suburban Chicago school. Each of us is to sign up for a PLC and meet periodically. Each PLC focuses on a different aspect of our school. Mine is 9th Grade Transition. Others are Standardized Tests, Privileges, School Climate, Differentiated Instruction... The idea is to create small, cohesive "communities" within the larger school population. We are doing something different from the other 2 schools, I guess, because we feel the PLCs are better than High Schools that work. I don't know enough about either of them to have a strong opinion either way.

For the record, I'm not opposed to change, nor am I opposed to the PLC ideal. What I don't like is having one packaged bunch of Edu-jargon being shoved down my throat and being brainwashed to believe that if I don't completely buy into it, I'm not a good teacher. I'm more from the buffet school of thought- take a little of this, a little of that, none of that, to create something that works for me and for the students I teach.

So, what do you all think? Anyone using High Schools (or Middle Schools) That Work? PLCs? Do they work? Talk to me.



Blogger Adeline said...

I agree wholeheartedly with the buffet style of what works both in the classroom and the school. We are starting these PLC's. I am hesitant because every time I have spoken at my new school I have had either interrupt me or literally go off the handle in rather abstract anger (she apologized later). So my feeling so far here at new school is keep mouth shut and all will go well. I swear I didn't even say anything inflammatory.

Which doesn't really give me alot of hope for PLC's here at new school, but the jury is still out.

At my old school however, PLC's, while they didn't call them that, were really nice. They helped make calls to kids with attendance issues, got teachers together to do particular clubs, and other cool stuff.

But most other stuff at school, I agree, is sitting and listening and don't say anything so that it can be over.

It's hard to accept that this is how it is.

1/08/2008 9:17 PM  

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