Today, is a PLC day. We have created a schedule where every other Wednesday kids get out at 2:00 and we move into our PLC groups for two hours of planning, collaborating, and general chumminess that goes on with these group. I’ll say up front, I love the staff I work with, period. From elementary to secondary, I work with some of the best teachers ever. They put in the time on nights, weekends, holidays, and during times they should be relaxing, trying to make a difference.
Well, today, we wondered just what that difference was. We’ve been focusing on math as our elementary is on the watch list for that subject area, and we’ve put together RtI schedules, done assessments, and have bought into the PLC/RtI model better then I would have guessed. While I don’t think we are perfect by any stretch of the imagination, I do think we’ve got a good handle of how this model can work, and I’m encouraged that we continue to refine. However, as we finished up, we talked about how our student population has changed, and how we’ve changed with them. We have so many good things going for us (deeper understanding of the Core, RtI in place, PLCs working, CGI math) but yet, what results do we see? Students still disengaged, scores dropping, and just a general sense of “we are working at maximum capacity, what more can we give?”
Then, of course, my state gets an “F” from the people at StudentFirst. Apparently, we aren’t following lock step behind the reform movement, basing my life on test scores, therefor, the state must be doing something wrong. Now, I don’t agree with much of what StudentFirst is about, however, this part floored me:
“Iowa should strengthen its ability to ensure that resources are being spent wisely and that districts are focused on improving student outcomes.”
What district DOESN’T do this?? What district isn’t focused on improving student outcomes?? And when we are sitting on a huge budget surplus and for the first time state history a 0% allowable growth is passed, what are we thinking?? The problem with all the StudentFirst nonsense, they have power. Real power. Power to get some of these nonsensical things passed in various places around the country (and I’m sure Iowa is in their crosshairs).
And finally, I watched a PBS Frontline called “Poor Kids”, about kids of poverty. One of the families featured on this is from Iowa, down towards the Quad-Cities. As I watched this, I could see the faces of so many of my students. While their situations may not be as dire, they come to school with baggage that my own children could never imagine. In the 13 years that I’ve been here, I would imagine the students I first had didn’t have this kind of baggage.
Now, I’ll go home tonight, run a bit, the grade or plan, and tomorrow morning I’ll feel better about things. But if I’m feeling this way, how many other teachers are feeling this too? How do we work so hard, yet see so little results, and then are blamed for these results when our students are sleeping on floors, not knowing where the next meal might come from? These are questions facing so many teachers who are doing the right thing for students every single day.
We are doing great things. Daily. I’ll leave you with this quote that was given to us by our administrator, a quote we all need to take to heart:
“There is nothing that kills intelligence, kills creativity, kill productivity more than focusing on what we CANNOT control. -spending time and energy on the uncontrollables is not energy well spent.” Kenneth Williams
While spending time on that uncontrollable isn’t well spent energy, sometimes, you are just overwhelmed with those things and just need that vent. You then breath, eat a piece of chocolate, and move on! 🙂