Tag Archive: lean on me high


A Standing Ovation for her Encore

So, after everything that Ms. Cleo put me through last week, I still followed along.  That is, the stupid wench demanded grades by 3 pm Tuesday afternoon, which at no point was feasible considering several things.  The first being, that the way she wanted grades averaged was…extra.  Second, I was told I’d have the entire day to finish working on grades.  I stayed up the night before, and with an assistant (a friend from out of town) we  scored all the multiple choice.  I searched for logical loop holes in my wording and correlated that to the kid who answered the question, just to see if a. any question received a high number of wrong answers, and b. if that kid might have been absent that day.  Both of which were extra on my part.  But that ties into three, when I checked the system, I was scheduled to report to Lean on Me High until Thursday.  Logical considering all grades were due for other teachers on Wednesday, the proofs and corrections on Friday.  Otherwise, they would be blocking me from working at another school.  Which would be uncool right?  At 11:30 Tuesday, I was informed that today would be my last absolute last day.  No response at to why they were placeholding my spot in the system.  Finally, the last roadblock that she threw was proctoring.  Instead of straight grading, and scrambling for the impossible, instead, I kept being called upon to relieve other people.  30 minutes to an hour just suddenly evaporated.  More details, but I’m actually getting angry thinking about this.

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

 

When I began my time at Lean on Me High, 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 MJ arrived as their formal appointed English teacher, and I could finally concentrate on learning the subject matter and concepts of Forensic Science and then teach it, to the two sections that I would assume lead teacher in.( A moment of note here applies as well, as in that subject, and classroom, I too was thrown into a situation where students had basically wasted a marking period.)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 MJ, 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.

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. Santana, 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 MJ and I shared in common were during Professional Development or during the classes we shared together.  Even when we both stayed late after school, there would be no time for common planning, and even if there had been, it would be futile, 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 MJ with annotated points, and reference materials often were not reviewed, and rarely would MJ take the lead for a multitude of reasons that I can not speak to.  In any event,

When things somewhat become consistent, I and MJ etched out a plan. The only way to achieve a more functional, and meaningful environment was to lessen the number ofI asked AP Razor if I could locate a classroom not being utilized would it be ok.  Had I known that the AP’s had different tasks under their purview, I would have also sought out Ms. Cleo’s permission or assistance.  However, with the chain of events as they were, being such that with Mr. Razor’ s oral approval, 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.  While the students under my charge receiving instruction in lessons designed primarily focused on literature and creative writing based lessons, and Ms. Jones 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 a few days looking at the list of students, and with Ms. Jones approval or requests for students, the groupings were cemented.  The matrix of students would include all levels of students.  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. Special Special Ed’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. Jones 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 MJ’s lesson plan,ideas, concepts or time, I’ve to date received none.  I would have designed something but  as I assumed that as the Gen-Ed English teacher that she would take point.

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.

Lean on Me (Part II)

Lean on Me (Part II)

We actually need Joe Clark.

I’ve spent most of the weekend. Actually, every night since Wednesday in abject (direct) terror that the only other person who was in a similar boat as me wouldn’t quit.

But Saturday, I received an email that casually just cemented he wasn’t coming back, even though the email didn’t say it.
You see, Bobby was also a sub. filling in for an ATR and Vacancy. His subject was Social Studies. Global, and American Gov. He created folders for the kids, which he had to push on this ridiculous cart, but as I did, he reminded the kids “I am here. I see how you feel. Use me to your best advantage.” And from some kids he got results. And from others he got props.
But I don’t think there was much contact with the administration. And he too was left mystified when pay day came and we didn’t get paid.
But Bob did it. He did even more than me. He stayed behind for hours pouring over work, and really living the dream.

Being low man on the pole, and having a co-teacher in one class (who technically has more rights in that class, since its inclusion and she has the majority of kids) I was pulled out to cover his classes, plus my own. In one day I taught 4 different subjects, in 4 different rooms.
The 5th class was in a subject that I teach earlier in the day but deserves its own segue and post.

Literally, this year is too much. I off the top of my head made plans up for Bob’s classes, and tried to get the kids to do it. Many of the kids were kids I have in other classes, and so they were sort of like “Really, K? Really. Again?” And I said the same thing myself. But I noticed a trend….Bob’s classes were generally 30% smaller than mine. I got kind of jealous. Except for the cart it wasn’t much of a hassle at all. It was a a sweet deal. It wasn’t the monkey’s paw that I had been sold.

And yet, despite seeing more of me, I can totally see why some of the kids may think that I am a talentless hack. Instruction is rarely accomplished in 2 of the sections where there are more than 36 kids. There’s the 2 sections where I self admittedly do not understand what is going on in those classes. Or know what to do, and I have been vocal in trying to find someone, AP, UTF Rep, Science teachers, Strangers on the Subway, ANYONE to let me know

Bringing in my home computer is not an option. Betsy might set my apartment on fire the next time I restart. It is what it is. Yet, despite asking for access to technology in the building that could allow me to possible work out some of the lessons I’ve simulated in my head, or having a computer in the school that is actually able to show a show on PBS without PBS suggesting we go to NPR. You know, National Public Radio. Which in that case, the speakers that I BOUGHT ON MY OWN AND TRUCK IN MY BOOKBAG EVERY STEP I TAKE. No help. No follow through on direct things I’ve asked about.

Today I haven’t eaten and I don’t have an appetite. And I haven’t pulled together the things I imagine because yeah I’m stressing out.

So Exposition of this over, next time….I’ll tell you about “THOSE TWO.”

Be well.

[Chester Kent.]