Sunday, March 6, 2011

Random Ruminations

Time for some Sunday ruminations...

--Work continues to be challenging. At our Leadership meeting this week (department heads, administrators and the principal) we were informed that there were more "Class 3" offenses at our school in the past week and a half than in the ENTIRE school year last year. Class 3's are considered "major offenses" and the recent occurrences include two students who had a knife on campus, assault of a teacher ("luckily" with fists not a weapon,) and stealing. We had a full-faculty meeting this week to discuss safety on school grounds. I am saddened that things got to this point. I fear our meeting was probably "too little too late."

--The Florida state legislature (similar to many states) is looking at several changes within the public education system. Those which currently frustrate me the most are: budget cuts and
connecting teacher pay to a "rating" given by parents. I believe I am a decent teacher who maintains frequent contact with the majority of my students' parents. However, I don't think it is fair to connect my paycheck to a rating given by people who do NOT observe me in the classroom, nor witness my work first hand. Phone calls, e-mail correspondence, conferences and open house are not an adequate portrayal of all that goes into being an educator. Seeing as MOST of a teacher's work occurs IN the classroom, I don't understand how we can be fairly evaluated by people who do not observe us there. Sighs.

--I am at the point I will give my current school one more year and then if things have not improved, I will look at transferring to a different school. This makes me sad, as my goal when I changed to this school 2 1/2 years ago was to stay here until Emma was finished with middle school. Remember, I have her on "special assignment" at the elementary school next door to where I teach. I am disappointed...if I transfer it will mean changing schools for her as well. Crossing all fingers that things get better next year. (This would require HUGE changes within our administration team.) Overall, teacher morale is very low this year. There are many people who are unhappy and who are looking to transfer schools at the end of this year.

--I recently read "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen. LOVED this book! It is narrated by an elderly man who is reminiscing about years he worked in a traveling circus in the 1930's. The book toggles between his present day life and his memories of the circus. Awesome, awesome story! DH actually read the book after I did and he enjoyed it as well. :)

--I'm currently reading "Home" an autobiography by Julie Andrews. Interesting read thus far, though it has been a bit slow going due to school work and our Disney vacation.

--Plugging away on his 4th book. Entered a contest for his 3rd book...with a 1-in-100 chance of getting to have his entire book read by a book agent. How wonderful would that be? I continue to admire his perseverance. I don't think I could stay dedicated at "keeping at it" without support from an agent by now.

--Dear Readers, what is your opinion of on-line university programs? I took several online courses to obtain my teaching degree. I am highly interested in obtaining my masters degree, but would like to find a program that is 100% online. Due to DH's work schedule (he works 11-7 every weekday and 9-5 many Saturdays) evening courses at one of the local universities would be difficult for me to attend due to needing child care for Emma.
--Do you think employers think less of "virtual" degrees than they do of face-to-face degree programs? Or once I've obtained a diploma will it really matter?

I think that's all the latest...


Carrie27 said...

I think more and more employers are accepting and welcoming of a "virtual" degree. Seriously, who has the ability to go to school after working all day?

My heart feels a little tug every time I hear of another school system, state, etc making budget cuts in public education. How is cutting teachers going to help the unemployment rate and our students?

Mrs. Gamgee said...

I'm sorry that things are so stressful at work. Cutting education budgets is never a smart decision.

As for online degrees, I think there is a certain level of respect that goes along with them, because you truly have to be motivated to keep going. I know it used to be just associates degrees that were available online, but there are so many more options now. I hope you're able to find something that works for you!

Cherish This Life! said...

I have heard the talk of basing teachers pay off of parent reviews. I have no teaching background but having a child in elementary school I am totally against it. I feel like I am pretty involved, I talk to Eight's teacher a few times a week, I volunteer with her class, go on field trips and try to stay as in touch as I can but I still don't feel that I have the knowledge to truly "grade" her. I am not there all day, I don't see it all. I don't think I could acurately give any of the 4 teachers that Eight has had so far a true rating. It would be based off little interaction and have very little to do with their teaching skills. I really hope that doesn't pass because I think teachers deserve a more accurate/detailed review than one that parents could give them!

I don't think "virtual" degrees are as frowned upon these days. In the beginning I think they were viewed as the lazy way out but really they are the only way that many of us can get the education we want. Good luck finding an online program, that is GREAT!

Jen said...

hope school issues work out, hubby's work is doing budget cuts as well and it's not going to be pretty soon. Florida schools are fun aren't they (see my sarcasm? I hate the schools here)

Nicole said...

I am so sorry that work is not going as well as you would like and hope that things turn around (and quickly!) so that you don't have to make some difficult decisions about where you teach and where Em goes to school. And I really hope they don't go to the parent-review-based-pay - you are so very right about parents only having a limited window of what goes into your classroom.

I have my fingers crossed for your DH! I too am impressed that he keeps at it and hope that this is his chance!

And I am relieved to read others' assesments of online degrees. My husband just finished his BS last fall and is now working on his MBA through De.Vry's online program. I was pretty wary that it wasn't going to carry as much weight as a degree from a 'real' university, but so far he has not met any resistance and people are just impressed that he keeps at it.

Marie W said...

I am right there with you on the soapbox Alana! Pay tied to student achievement? I would never earn any as I have children working wayyyy below grade level but are required to take and pass the test on their current grade level. Smh.

I did my masters completely online through Nova Southeastern University (based in Davie in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl). The only downfall I heard was that there were more written assignments (I love writing so this was not an issue for me, but some students complained of that). Once a week we had a web chat through WebCT to discuss the readings, assignments and so on. I wanted convenience and easy accessibiliy so an online course was perfect for me as well as the fact that NSU met the Florida Requirements. Good Luck!

AnxiousMummyto3 said...

I can't believe the parents get to decide a rating that affects your pay!! That just shocks me, the system is totally different in Australia. I believe you're a really hard working teacher and I hope you don't have to move schools, or move Emma!
The book sounds really interesting :)
Take care

MrsSpock said...

I am planning on using the online program to get my Masters in Nursing, though it's through a local state university, Wright State. I know a lot of nurses who did online programs for the academic portion of their degrees (we have to have clinicals too) and employers are OK with it.

junebug said...

I recently finished Water for Elephants. I loved it, too. Well, I would have loved it except for the very first part. I don't like knowing what is going to happen before I read it because it makes me detach emotionally knowing something bad is coming. If that wasn't there I would have loved it.