Saturday, November 15, 2008

I spent last night and all day today at a FABULOUS workshop on Autism.
I learned SO much and am officially on overload...
After the workshop I went to the Bank Street Bookstore and somehow walked out with $100 worth of posters, books, flash cards, and phonics games. How does that happen?
I spend money on my classroom now in such a different way than I did when I worked for the DOE. When I worked for the DOE, I bought paper, pencils, paid for copies, and sometimes bought things like center books. Now, all basic supplies are provided, and so are basically all teaching resources we want. The only thing is that if the school buys them they belong to the school, and some of these things I want to keep (because I don't plan on staying here forever), and so I buy things that develop me professionally and that make my classroom more inviting...more like the classrooms I remember as a child).
Last year, I would have never DREAMED of buying posters, or a game to help kids learn blends and diagraphs.
Yet these are the kinds of things I remember about elementary school, and the kinds of things you find when you walk in to suburban and private schools. Neat classrooms - lots of Lakeshore things.
Money doesn't equal great classrooms, but I like knowing that when my students look back on their elementary school career, they will not remember going to a school with bars on the windows - they'll remember a classroom with bright posters and fun games :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day Off?

Notsomuch. My morning was filled with meetings, and my afternoon with planning. We had a planning party (aka 3 teachers from my school got together, ate lots of snacks, and planned like crazy people for 6 hours).
Even though the days was not the sleep in, watch talk shows in pajamas on the couch day off as I had when I worked in the DOE, I feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
A conversation that happens often with staff at my school is whether or not this is sustainable. If not, how can we fix it so that it is, and is fixing it beneficial to kids? There are people that argue that teachers should give as much as they can at a school like mine (long hours, often 70+ hour weeks) and then when they're burnt out, move on to something else. These people feel that it isn't the school's job to ensure sustainability, but rather the achievement of the kids. There are others that argue that staff retention greatly contributes to a schools' culture and the achievement of it's students, and that teacher retention should be a focus of charter schools and other educational institutions with extended hours/weekend work requirements. (My school does not require teachers to teach on weekends, but many charter schools have mandatory Saturday academies).
I'm not sure where I stand on this argument, but I know that I don't feel like I could work at this job and have children of my own. I also don't feel like someone could work 40 hours a week and service my children the way they deserve. Maybe there's no answer...maybe it's different for every school or organization?
I'd love to hear people's thoughts!