DISCLAIMER. This becomes relevant because my official chancellors hearing about this matter happens at the end of the month. The matter is technically already resolved. My U-ratings have been rescinded by the school but I would really like my back pay. The principal that I had issues with and that made my life hell for weeks has early retired. As of last week. This truly shows that this chick was there for the children.

This letter is to serve as a response to a letter to file dated January 17th, 2012.

When I began my time at Mott Hall High School, the 10th/11th grade English classes were absolutely in disarray. School support staff, and the students informed me that they had several teachers during the year, two somewhat long term, and several ATR’s. Despite the lack of any formal structure or objectives, I assumed role of lead teacher for several weeks until Ms. Jones arrived as their formal appointed English teacher. At that time, I had been informed that two of the classes were to be ICT/CTT classes, which came as a shock because for the duration of the time I served as the students teachers, I worked alone. After handing over the classroom to Ms. Kooky, I often times worked with her in the 5th and 8th period classes. The 5th period class became more of a regular mainstay because the 5th period class was problematic, in more than one way. In the subsequent paragraphs, I will detail a few of the main issues that I have encountered teaching at this school, emphatically without support

The most major problem with 5th period was the impossible task of teaching a class with 44 students (see attachment.) Room 409 does not have adequate space for that many bodies. Sometimes we didn’t have enough chairs. Other times, classroom management was quite frankly impossible; circulating the room was nearly impossible, and being attentive to the needs of the various groupings that I had planned for the students was near impossible, and any sort of group work for the students often times broke out into deafening proportions, even when it was good talk. The arrangement of tables was not mine or Ms. Jones to define as we were only in that room for one period of the day. Clearly, that decision would be for Ms. Awesome Spanish as we all acknowledge that to be her classroom.

The second problem with period 5 was the high concentration of serviced students. I had not been informed of which students had any IEP’s. At the original roster of 44 students, there were at least 21 students receiving services. As it were the array of IEP’s or serviced students ranged from ELL students to some students with IEP’s clearly stated that they were defiant to authority.

Finally, the only time that Ms. Kooky and I shared in common were during Professional Development or during the classes we shared together; when I was prepping, she was teaching and vice versa. Even when we both stayed late after school, there would be no time for common planning, she had students that were below credits that were assigned to her and even if there had been time when they hadn’t show up, it would be futile because she was still adapting to our student body and any preparation or extra time when she didn’t have to take work home was reasonable , as I would provide coverage for teachers who were out. Inside the classroom, this also became something tough for the children students to comprehend as often times, two strong individuals were weakened because a lack of unified direction. The lessons I prepared, which I gave to Ms. Kookjy with annotated points, and reference materials often were not reviewed, and rarely would Ms. Kooky take the lead for a multitude of reasons that I can not speak to. In any event,

When things somewhat become consistent, I and Ms. Kooky etched out a plan. Well rather I, but she didn’t object mostly and those objections that she raised were answered whole heartedly. The overall conclusion being that the only way to achieve a more functional, and meaningful environment was to lessen the number ofI asked AP Wishy-Washy if I could locate a classroom not being utilized would it be ok.

Before the actual schism happened, I was given coverage for a teacher who had a family emergency. Immediately this meant that Ms. Kooky would be left without a SpEd or ICT teacher for the oversized 5th period class. Upon seeing the student roster for the 5th period class that I would be covering, instantly I knew that I had a light bulb cartoon-ishly appear over my head. This was a chance for me to be able to give my students a chance to demonstrate who they were and their abilities in a setting that wasn’t chaotic. The 23 or students that I rotated out of the library were either ready or willing or not able to show that they really wanted to be there. I could see them under a microscope Some This was tried out during a week where I covered a SETSS class of 2 students. The SETSS class were students were also studentsI taught in other classes; the ones I didn’t teach were happy to have a study period to tackle homework or other assignments. All the SETSS students seemingly had no qualms with me staying out of their way for the period. In fact, one student even joined in to covered their needs while dually taking half of the students out of 413. In the library I was able to rotate the students who in fact wanted me to fail and the ones who knew that my only desire was for them to be prepared for life. After this micro experiment (which might I add was encouraged by Mr. Wishy-Washy, who’s title was AP of Security, I can even recall him saying to me

“That’s a lot of fucking kids in that room.”

Had I known that the AP’s had different tasks under their purview, I would have also sought out Ms. Cleo. Who editor’s note has apparently retired before the end of the year permission or assistance. However, with the chain of events as they were, being- Mr. Wishy-Washy’s approval, Ms Kooky’s blessing, the Main Office’s hope for a quieter day and having identified room 413 as available, a plan was devised to separate the students into two groupings based on what we found to be our strong points in instruction. Differentiation was called for in the most bad ways.

It was decided or agreed upon that the students under my charge would be receiving instruction in lessons designed primarily focused on literature and creative writing based lessons, and Ms. Kooky’s lessons would be focusing more on grammar, and shorter literature pieces. At some unidentified point, we would rotate groups, if were felt that it would be beneficial to the students. Thus, I spent days looking at the list of students, and with Ms. Kooky approval or requests for students, the groupings for the differentiated and separated classes were cemented. The matrix of students would include all levels of students according to their abilities and their demonstrated capabilities according to cooperative work and groupings which I established even before Ms. Kooky’s sudden appearance. To reiterate, each grouping would have similar numbers of mainstreamed and IEP/serviced students.

In room 413, my students were put through their paces, with an intensive unit I had crafted about the perception of self in society. Students under my charge were given challenging, and socially relevant readings and assignments that allowed them to explore themselves. In the smaller setting, the 17 or 18 students were given the chance to read aloud, ask meaningful questions; they could really roll back their sleeves and dig into the materials. Every student was included.

Thus the direction to unify the groupings was both disappointing, and quite frankly impossible to plan considering the pacing of each unite grouping.

At the meeting of ICT teachers (which did not include teachers of all classes that should receive ICT instruction,) I voiced concerns about class size and room to instruct, lack of common planning, lack of adequate teaching materials, and access to the files detailing what the student”s IEP explicitly were. After Ms. Morgan offered suggestions as to models of Co-Teaching, I again voiced concerns regarding the level of planning that the model of Alternate Teaching would take, considering mine and Ms. Jones’s schedule, but this again was unanswered. After the meeting of ICT teachers, we attempted two instances of unifying the classes, and each time was an utter disaster. I acknowledge that on these two occasions there was a disappointing lack of instruction, and the students pleaded with Ms. Jones, and I to separate the groupings.

During this time, I was finally granted access to the IEP folders in Ms. Grammerican’s office, and discovered information that was left me in a quixitic situation; several of the students IEP’s state explicitly services that would simply not be possible in the unified class. While they may be recommended for ICT services, their IEP’s directly state that large classroom settings such as the one that would occur in room 409 would be completely damaging to their development and goals. Also, until Ms. Kooky was apprised of the specific needs of the IEP/serviced students and what differentiations and adaptions would be needed to lessons (which had not even been discussed nor mutually planned out) well joining the classes would be harmful to all students, gen-ed and disabled alike.

Furthermore in regards to Commissioner of Education’s 200.6 Continuum of Services, it is declared that in an ICT the number of students with disabilities should not be more than 40% of the classroom or at a maximum limit of 12, or in extreme cases, 13 if granted state notice and approval. The number of students on the original class roster totaled 20, and never dropped below 15 for the entire semester. In this situation, there was not a clearly defined “right” answer.

That is to say, on one hand, It would have been much easier and less of a risk to my career to rejoin the groups and do my best to avoid the deplorable situation that lead to the split. While on the other, I could continue the less obtrusive approach of instructing students while continuing to search for a method of instruction that would best service all the students in the classroom. While I would have still searched for viable options to instruct students in the unified classroom, I fear that by the time I found one, the damage may have been done. As it stands, the past four days in room 409 have been a nightmare for everyone involved (as I feared it would.) Despite requests for Ms. Kooky lesson plans, or time, I received neither. At some point unbeknownst to me, I would have designed something but as I assumed that as the Gen-Ed English teacher that she would take point. And when I tried to assist even with writing a do now, I received a letter to file.

Given the directions received and the level of support I received, I decided to choose the that allowed me to create a learning environment that provided meaningful and positive impacts on student learning This was not a decision made to be oppositional or defiant. It was not a decision made without angst or careful personal evaluation. Had I received more assistance in strategies that could feasibly allow me to follow instructions by my supervisors, and effectively achieve the best educationally fostering space of the students in my charge, I would have chose differently.