Tuesday, July 19, 2005

We take our realities for granted...

I'm spending the week with two colleagues at Confratute, a week-long intensive professional development program at the University of Connecticut. It's like summer camp for teachers - structured activities all day, cheesy social events all night. And a glossary of "confra-this" and "confra-that."

New York has ruined me. I miss irony. I miss the pace of life in the city. I hate the lack of sensory stimulation here at UConn, staying in dorms, eating too much food that I don't really like in the cafeteria, walking down 195 to Starbucks to avoid the watery cafeteria coffee.


In talking to teachers from outside of NYC about what they do, about what their schools are like, I am realizing how much we take our own realities for granted. "I think that would be illegal in Connecticut!" in response to me talking about how teachers at my school have to do extra stuff like teaching PE or art even though we are not certified in those areas. I ask what that means, what the state would DO if your school was so small that you couldn't afford to hire a full time language teacher or art teacher to teach only a few classes, and couldn't find anyone interested in a part-time position. Turns out the schools in CT are turning away teachers in most certification areas. People take part-time positions hoping that will help them get their foot in the door for a full-time position in a year or two. People have never even heard of Teach For America, because the idea that an uncertified, inexperienced, fresh-out-of-college kid could possibly get a job in a real school.

And it goes on. I am surprised, they are surprised. A lot of people here work in gifted education, have gifted certification, run enrichment programs. They speak a whole other language about teaching. Doubly-exceptional, triarchic model, etc., etc. We catch up as quickly as we can, at least on the pieces that feel important. We try to focus on what we can bring back that will help all of our children go farther and deeper. And we wonder about children we know who might have exceptional gifts, and what we could reasonably offer them.

In the Region where I work in NYC, basic academics are a crisis. Kids get three periods of math per day in some middle schools, and only a few periods a week of science and social studies. So many people fight just to keep the schools off of SURR lists and free from special sanctions or extra attention from the state. Elevators? Gifted programs? Push-in enrichment specialists? Responsive Classroom? Civil War simulations? My school doesn't quite fit in this context. We know about some of these things, wish we knew about others, try to do as much as we humanly can. We know that it's absurd that a child with a broken leg or a person in a wheelchair would be unable to enter our school. We try to think past the crisis, to see how long-term strategies can help us win the war and win a lot of the battles along the way. But we don't quite fit in the Confratute context, either.

Obviously, it's not news to me that I am a brand new teacher with a lot to learn, that I work at a brand-new school with a lot to learn, that I work in a system where the challenges and day-to-day realities would boggle the minds of most people. Nevertheless, surrounded by (well-meaning) teachers who take so much for granted, I feel slapped in the face by the level of inequity in United States schools.


Blogger jon said...

After we paid for our kids summer soccer camp we found it tough to recover! I totally agree with you!

3:32 PM  
Blogger nope said...


I'm sorry for being intrusive in to your blog. But I am Melissa and I am a mother of two that is just trying to get out of an incredible financial debt. See my hubby is away in Iraq trying to protect this great country that we live in, and I am at home with our two kids telling bill collectors please be patiant. When my husband returns from war we will beable to catch up on our payments. We have already had are 2001 Ford repossessed from the bank, and are now down to a 83 buick that is rusted from front to back and the heater don't work, and tire tax is due in November.

I'm not asking for your pitty because we got our ownselfs into this mess but we would love you and thank you in our prayers if you would just keep this link on your blog for others to view.

God Bless You.

Melissa K. W.
To see my family view this page. My Family

TV Central - Download full TV shows and series, newest movies, plus other downloads. Watch TV and movies online. Burn Them right to Blank CD's and watch them over and over again.

Messenger City - 10,000+ emoticons - Use Yahoo, MSN, ICQ and AIM all in one, skins, nicknames, bots, add-ons, emoticons, avatars and smilies.

Baja música gratis ahora. Busca y encuentra MP3, Películas, Software y más. Downloads ilimitados, Quema CDs & DVDs.

3:46 AM  
Blogger Just Surfing said...

Found you by accident - just surfing blogs - thanks for a good time! With luck you'll find my blog Learn a 2nd Language or my website about language schools useful, too. I'd be happy to see you.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Steve Westphal said...

You have a very nice blog. I thought I would share this with you, free mp3 music to download

10:03 PM  
Blogger Steve Blampied said...

Great free nokia software site.

Please take a look at my site about Free Software

8:56 AM  
Blogger Work From Home Center said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a based computer home work
site/blog. It pretty much covers based computer home work
related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

12:15 PM  
Blogger Gordon said...

Just visited your blog, it's great. I have a jobs seeking website which is informative and you can find info of different job natures, hope that it will be useful in your job seeking

7:08 AM  
Blogger Google Page Rank 6 said...

Want more clicks to your Adsense Ads on your Blog?

Then you have to check out my blog. I have found a FREE and Legitimate way that will increase your earnings.

Come Check us out. How to Boost Your AdSense Revenue

7:02 AM  
Blogger Preschool E.C.E said...

Great Blog you Have! I actually stumbled across it while searching for info related to food art for kid

You seem to have some interesting information on this blog. Keep it up!
I am sure it is of iterest to many on the web!

I have a website that you maybe interested in checking out soon regarding Art activities for kids, Science Experiments & Sensory for kids, and items related to food art for kid

Hopefully you will pay us a visit soon! We Have alot Of FREE info and Fun Stuff! www.preschoollearningonline.com

4:57 PM  
Blogger Wheel Chairs Center said...

Hi, Thanks for your interesting blog. Keep up the great work! I also have a site & blog about power wheelchair
, please feel free to visit.

4:22 AM  
Blogger eLearning at Resource Bridge said...

Resource Bridge has coined the phrase:

Are you seeing REDD?
REDD - Rapid eLearning Development and Deployment

For more information, please go to our site:

Resource Bridge

8:51 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home