Why the mystery around teacher assignments?

Whenever my pediatrician’s office adds a new doctor to its roster, an announcement arrives with the new physician’s bio.

Can someone explain why schools don’t do that with new teachers?

It seems like a simple effort that would yield a lot in community relations. My system sends a letter in late July telling parents that their child has Mr. X or Ms. Y, but gives no other information. Since systems go to the expense and effort to write a letter to each parent and mail it, why not include something like: Timmy  will have Mr. X, who comes to us from Elm Street School in Charlotte, N.C.  where he taught fourth grade for six years. He is a graduate of UGA and GSU. Mr. X is a former high school soccer player and looks forward to playing with the students at recess.

I am sure that parent volunteers would compile the short bios, if asked, or the teachers themselves could provide their own description for the letter.

I think systems are getting better. My system used to post the class list the night before school began on the school’s front doors, and parents and kids drove over that evening to crowd around to find their assignment. I never understood why as teachers told me that they were assigned their classes weeks earlier so the late-notice seemed unnecessary and deliberate. (In fact, some systems inform students who their next teacher will be during the last week of school in May.)

I suspect – and perhaps some of you know better — that late notice gave unhappy parents less time to protest.

Can anyone explain why systems don’t seem to have this down to a science? Are there  implications in this issue that I am not seeing?  I wrote a Learning Curve column last year about providing teacher bios and some miffed teachers sent me notes saying that if they had to provide bios, so should parents. That would be fine with me as I think the more information a teacher has about a child, the better it is.

117 comments Add your comment

momtoAlex&Max

August 6th, 2009
9:56 am

My school in Cobb Co did not announce teacher assignments until today, school starts Monday.

I think you hit the nail in the head: they don’t want to give parents time to complain if they receive a less than stellar teacher. I know that that is exactly what happened to me last year. This year I was determined to know early so I can be prepared and I was prepared to demand a transfer if it was someone i did not like. As it happened, I am perfectly happy with their assignments this year.

old teach

August 6th, 2009
10:13 am

Good Morning Maureen,
It’s really quite transparent to one who has been in the inner sanctum of the convoluted strategies in schools of today. The “everybody’s the same” mentality is pervasive among the power brokers in education. Every student can and must take college prep classes because every student is expected to go to college. If not enough students in a certain school can score high enough for the Gifted program, then lower the required score so one school does not appear to have better students than another. And so on ad infinitum.
The teacher bios fit right in the pattern. Heaven forbid that one teacher’s bio looks more impressive than another. One teacher graduated from , let’s just say, Vandedrbilt, got an MAT from Boston U,. AND a Phd. from Ga Tech and has has been teaching math for 15 years. Another teacher has a BS from a small school in Idaho and has no advanced degrees and this is her 2nd year of teaching math. NEVERMIND that the latter may be a fabulous teacher whose students not only show progress every year but adore her/him.
You can see the problem that could arise here when parents get the bios .
In a school system where learning disabled students are expected to perform at the same level as students who have no learning disability…. and non English speaking students are expected to perform at the same level as native English speakers AND if they do not, the school is labeled
“failing”…..Well… there will be NO teacher bios.

Ernest

August 6th, 2009
10:22 am

I’ve can go to some schools websites and see this information. A general template is used and provides background information such as degrees earned, years in education, and personal anecdotes. I would think that if citizens wanted this as a ’standard’ for every school, they could request a policy to enact this.

I recall years ago when working with my local elementary school, I would help with the newsletters and solicit this information from new teachers. Never had problems in getting this information, in fact all were glad to provide it.

Harper's Mama

August 6th, 2009
10:24 am

So if you aren’t happy with your child’s teacher, you go and “demand” a transfer? Really? Seriously???? What is it about the teacher that you would not “like”? Was he or she unseemly? Ugly? Or did he or she simply do her job and not cowtow to parental “demands”?

Classes have been run up to the absolute maximum; teachers have been laid off. I have 32 in every English class that I teach. If a parent “demanded” that a child be moved out of another class and into mine, I would have to laugh. And put him where?

I would NEVER go into a place of business and tell someone how to do his or her job, and I daresay that I find it offensive that parents “demand” changes because they may not like something about the way a teacher runs his or her classroom.

Seen it all

August 6th, 2009
10:27 am

Ok Maureen, you and your parent friends are making more out of this than it needs to be. What difference does it make what teacher your child has? What difference does it make as to the “qualifications” of a particular teacher? Why do parents need to know a teacher’s resume? Quite frankly I find the whole thing insulting.

First of all, teachers are the same in EVERY SCHOOL, regardless of the county or the system. Do you know how I know? Because the system is the same EVERYWHERE. Only certain people are hired to be teachers. These “teachers” all come from the same system, the same machine. They come from colleges where they are all taught and indoctrinated in the same ideology. The same thought patterns and behavior patterns. They even dress alike.

Researchers will tell you that the majority of schoolteachers are white women. To tell you how much these people are cookie cutter, automatons, look at how they dress and act. I can spot which women are teachers when I am shopping in a store. Also, and more importantly this- their behaviors, beliefs, methods of classroom management, relationships with students and parents, and instruction are all the same. There are no real instructional or idealogical differences between teachers in a school. Why because the system wants conformity. They want principals who look alike and think alike. Principals want teachers who look alike and think alike.

So Maureen, I ask you this- What difference does it make where Ms. Simpson got her college degree? What difference does it make what Ms. Harper likes to do in her spare time? Does this have any bearing on if Ms. Simpson is a “good” teacher or not?

Maureen, let’s be for real this one time. I know (and most educated people who have any real experience in education know) that you, like many other middle class parents, want to engage in teacher shopping. And since we now know that as a whole teachers are pretty much the same, this teacher shopping is much ado about nothing. It’s simply about personalities. It has nothing to do with the real ability of this person to teach your child. You just want to pick people you think that YOU would like to be your child’s teacher.

But alas, I guess parents wouldn’t know this because they have never been a part of the system. They don’t know what the game is really about (or maybe they do and I, being a “good” teacher, had it wrong all along). All they see is from the outside looking in. And what from I hear from these parents, supposed the best, most educated, wealthiest people in all America is that real education really doesn’t matter. They just want a certain person, a certain personality to be in the influence of their children.

So what is the lesson for today children? That instruction, true teaching, really doesn’t matter in the American educational system. School is simply a social institution. It really isn’t necessary for a person to work hard trying to teach at all. It’s not the learning that’s important. It’s the social outcomes that really matter.

Maureen, I am guessing that when this is all over, you will have learned something about what school that you would never have learned simply as a parent.

Welcome to Get Schooled.

Seen it all

August 6th, 2009
10:42 am

Can somebody tell me what a “stellar teacher” is? I just want to know. In all the debates, after all these years, NOBODY HAS NEVER REALLY DEFINED WHAT MAKES A GOOD TEACHER.

Instead we see people everyday try to tell schools and teachers how to do their jobs. You don’t tell doctors, lawyers, car mechanics, judges, politicians, street sweepers, hamburger flippers, etc. how to do their jobs. Do you cashier shop at when you go to Target? Or do you just get what appears to be the shortest line? Do you mechanic shop when you take your car to the Ford dealership for maintanance? Or do you just give the service manager the keys to the car and let them handle their business?

Please “moms”, cut out the foolishness over what class your child is assigned. I, an insider in the system, am telling you that these people are BASICALLY THE SAME. There is no difference between Ms. Simpson, Ms. Harper, Ms. Zimkowski, Mr. Johnson, Mrs. Elliot, or Mrs. Brown. They are all the same.

Joyce

August 6th, 2009
11:03 am

I agree with other posters that teacher differences are not generally significant within a grade. I think that the schools hire the best people they can: degreed, certified, etc. The rest really is personalities and is usually not worth kicking up a lot of sand over. I think that having some generic, “getting-to-know-you” bio information on teachers who are new to the building is a nice idea. The established teachers could also include that info in their packets so that students feel welcomed by a human being.

momtoAlex&Max

August 6th, 2009
11:09 am

Yes Haper’s Momma this teacher was BEYOND unacceptable. Believe me when I tell you that I do not expect ANYONE to cow tow to my needs. This particular teacher was lazy, she did not communicate with parents AT ALL, her homework assignments were sloppy, she never graded them or returned them to the students (how else are we supossed to know how if our kids need more help in certain areas), she never did any of the other fun projects that ALL the rest of the 2nd graders were doing, she instilled no discipline in her classroom and my kid did not learn squat in his year there. He and a buddy actually started doing multiplication ON THEIR OWN because they were SO beyond bored in the classroom.

SO NO, I am not one of THOSE parents, but can you really blame for wanting the best for my kid? I cannot afford private education and I am the world’s worst teacher plus I have to work, so what are my options here Ms Assumptions?

AP Teacher

August 6th, 2009
11:21 am

First of all – some of my colleagues just found out yesterday that their schedules got changed, and now they are teaching X instead of Y. So, please don’t think that your child’s teacher got changed because of some secret conspiracy! Furthermore – my school posts all of this information on the teachers’ websites. This is not so parents can “shop” for a teacher; it’s more like a “get to know me” kind of deal. I have had a parent request that his daughter’s teacher be changed because she went to Tech instead of UGA! Unreal!

FYI – can I get only the “stellar” students in my class??!!

SB

August 6th, 2009
11:26 am

I disagree that it doesn’t with the statement that it doesn’t matter or make any difference what the teacher’s background is. That is ridiculous. Why, you ask, it knowing this information necessary? Because this person, the teacher, spends 20-30 hours a week with my child. I think it’s perfectly reasonable for me, as a parent, to want to know something about her. Now, if the issue is, should a parent have the right to transfer their child out of the classroom on the basis of what appears on that “resume?” I think not. There are many great teachers out there and a resume does not necessarily reflect that. Unless a teacher has shown to the parent that he/she cannot teach that parent’s child for whatever reason (personality conflicts, disability, etc…) then there should be no transfer to another classroom. I agree, classrooms are already overwhelming. Teacher transfers should be limited to only circumstances that truly warrant it and not just because a parent prefers another teacher.

Erin

August 6th, 2009
11:33 am

Even if it’s just the night before school starts, at least most people get to see which teacher their kids are going to have BEFORE the first day of school. In my elementary school, we found out the first day of school. Never earlier than that. And I actually liked it that way. Y’know, the anticipation factor … whether I’d be in the same class with my friends, etc.

Pulbic School Parent

August 6th, 2009
11:47 am

to Seen It All: It is true that my children have had excellent teachers with bachelor’s degress and absolutely incompetent teachers with PhDs. However, the degree and experience level can make a huge difference, especially in advanced classes. I’d much rather have my high school student taught math by someone with a bachelors or masters degree in MATHEMATICS rather than a PhD in Educational Leadership from an internet school. These degrees add absolutely nothing to the acedemic quality of the teacher or the classroom.

I seriouslly disagree with your repeated statements that all tachers are the same. That is like saying that all doctors and all lawyers and all accountants are the same. And it is not all about “personalities.” The absolutely best teacher in my son’s middle school was a grumpy, opinionated guy that no one particularly likes at first. But he works hard as a teacher, knew the material inside and out, made the students think, and did not mindlessly follow the canned state curriculum.

Ernest, if requested, public schools are now required to provide parents with the degree that a teacher holds. I think it may be part of NCLB. But DeKalb will only disclose the generic degree (bachelor/masters/doctorate) and refuses to provide the name of the academic institution that conferred the degree or the specific degree. So you don’t know whether the teacher has a PhD from MIT or from Argosy University via the internet.

Mac

August 6th, 2009
12:01 pm

Most of the time it is merely a perception that teacher XYZ is the perfect teacher for whatever social reason. The reality is those aren’t always actually (or even usually) the better teachers. They are the better self promoters.

AlreadySheared

August 6th, 2009
12:14 pm

“Seen it all”:

“Do you mechanic shop when you take your car to the Ford dealership for maintanance?”

Are you KIDDDING? Do you STAY broke?

I only work with shops that I know do a good job. Pick restaurants based on the quality of food and service? Yep. Stop going to a dentist who seems inclined to do unneeded work (”You’ve had those fillings how long – we need to replace those”)? Uh – huh. Ask around about contractors, ask them questions, check references, hire the one I think will do the best job? You bet.

Your hubris and fear of being held accountable are stunning! You educate children. The people who are responsible for those children are their parents. It’s none of the parent’s business – they should stop meddling? REALLY?

Gail

August 6th, 2009
12:40 pm

I don’t believe in teacher shopping, but it can sometimes be helpful to know how much experience a teacher has. I am much more likely to wait to see how things work out when a problem occurs if I know the teacher is experienced. Since I rarely have real info about a teacher’s background, I find myself going by age and naturally assume older teachers have more experience. However, this backfired on me once when I assumed a middle-aged teacher had experience. I saw problems, and waited too long. When I finally approached her about the problem, I found out she was a first or second year teacher at about age 50!

Joy in Teaching

August 6th, 2009
1:11 pm

I’m a grumpy, opinionated middle aged teacher with the middle aged spread going on. I also just started my 22nd year in this profession and have three degrees, one from UGA, another from Piedmont College, and a third from, yes, an online university that I worked my butt off for. (It was much more difficult than UGA, let me tell you.)

I’m also considered to be a pretty darned good teacher.

But here’s the thing: I’m not the best “fit” for every single kid that walks through my door. If a parent is shopping for a perky, SUV-driving, blonde haired soccer mom to be their child’s teacher, then I’m definately not the one for them as I’m practically the exact opposite.

Also, I had absolutely NO idea who I would have in classes or even how many I would have in my classes until they day they walked in. Just a rough number. Was it my fault? Nope. Rather, the two days of furloughs put everyone behind: technology, the registrars, etc. We only had two days of pre plannning, 4 hours of which were open house for 7th and 8th grade. The 6th grade didn’t even get an open house due to the furlough days. My students literally knew their schedules before I did as I couldn’t get into my online roll book until the first day of school.

In my school, some classes have at least 38 kids in classes. And, yes, that is too much. Schools were given a “projected number” of students to expect by the county office based on numbers at the feeder elementary schools and general population within districts. We planned according to those numbers. And we obviously planned wrong as we have more students than we were expecting. Schedules will have to be redone. Student needs (such as special ed and gifted) are going to have to be considered. And if classes can’t be evened out, then a teacher may have to be hired, but that is a BOE decision. And even then, there is no such thing as an “instant” teacher. They have to be interviewed, have their qualifications and backgrounds checked, and hired…which will take at least a couple of weeks.

The thing is, Maureen, planning for and scheduling students is not an exact science. These days, schools don’t want to have too many teachers due to budget restraints so they plan for what population is expected.

And you are worried about a BIO? Isn’t that a bit TRITE when compared to all of the other problems that schools and teachers are faced with? Should teachers have taken their furlough days to write them, or take away from their other time in planning for INSTRUCTION, grading, teaching, doing hall duty, or actually spending some time with their families in order to write bios prepare those parents who are “teacher shopping.”? I’ll be honest: I haven’t been home any time before 7:00 for the past week and a half as I’m still trying to catch up from those two furlough days. If parents want me to put yet one more thing on the plate, it might be October before I get around to writing one.

jim d

August 6th, 2009
1:23 pm

Harpers mom,

Only once did i ever request my childs class be changed–that was due to a hiring junket GCPS system went on several years ago to India, not only did the accent cause a problem for my child but even i had problems understanding what the teacher was saying. My request was granted on the grounds that my child couldn’t understand the teacher. BTW, that one cost taxpayers aa bundle and lord knows how many children suffered due to the language barrier.

jim d

August 6th, 2009
1:30 pm

OH my seen it all,

What a broad brush you use to paint all teachers the same. Shall we take it then that if there is even one pedophile that gets hired that all teachers are then pedophiles? What is it that you would like to make sure parents don’t know?

No –Teachers are not all the same. They are human and as such have different personalities as well as teaching styles. Personally, I feel students should adapt to the teachers style and personality, but I also believe parents have the RIGHT to know who it is they are entrusting their child to.

Reality 2

August 6th, 2009
1:50 pm

I concur with jim d. Not all teachers are the same – some are more competent than others. Some have personalities that work with some kids but not with others while other teachers may have completely opposite match.

Public School Mom: Someone with PhD in Educaional Leadership from whatever the school may still have a bachelor’s and even master’s degree in mathematics. So that point just didn’t seem to make any sense. On the other hand, I would like to know how many years of teaching (and what grades and subjects) of all administrators.

momtoAlex&Max

August 6th, 2009
2:02 pm

Haper’s Mom: thank you, Ms Assumption. I can assure you that I DO NOT shop for a teacher that cow tows to me.

This particular teach was renowned for her lazyness. EVERYONE knew it. And I experienced it with my child. Homework assignments that were never graded, she never did any of the other fun projects that ALL the rest of the 2nd grade teachers were doing, she did not speak proper English (I had an extremelly hard time understanding her), she did not control her classroom and she yelled a lot. A LOT of the parents that I spoke to that year (classmates of my child) had the same issues.

So NO, not all teachers are the same. I cannot afford to send my child to private school and I am the world’s worst teacher myslef (yes I admit it’s a tough job) so homeschooling is really not an option.

What would you have me do Ms Assumptions? (aka Harper’s Mom) Do YOU not want the best you can get for your child???????

Joy in Teaching

August 6th, 2009
2:13 pm

Ok…so now parents want me to supply a bio in addition to school supplies? Goody. I’ve been getting home at around 7 p.m. because I still haven’t caught up from those furlough days. I guess I need to give up eating, spending time with my family, or showering to take care of yet another demand by a parent.

Sigh.

Bitter Much?

August 6th, 2009
2:21 pm

Seen it All,

I’m not entrusting my child to the “doctors, lawyers, car mechanics, judges, politicians, street sweepers, hamburger flippers” for 7-8 hours a day either.

Bitter Much?

August 6th, 2009
2:31 pm

Harper’s Mama,

What if you had a child in daycare and the worker was endangering your child because they were unattentive. You wouldn’t speak up and tell them how to do their job. I find that hard to believe.

We entrust the teachers to assist us in educating our children & a bad teacher one year, can have serious consequences in later grades.

Joy in Teaching

August 6th, 2009
2:37 pm

So much for the the thing that eats blog posts. I’ve lost two today…don’t really feel like wasting more time with it. Time to go grade papers and write a darned bio for parents. Maybe I’ll get home by 7:30 tonight.

Practical Mom

August 6th, 2009
2:44 pm

Go one step further.

Let parents evaluate teachers at the end of the year. Teachers are, in effect, working for the parents (we do pay the bill), so we should get some input into what teachers are retained, and which teachers are acceptable to teach our children.

luke

August 6th, 2009
2:58 pm

joy in teaching ,,,,,, wah!! you will get home at 7:30 this evening, but you have been off for 10 weeks !!!!! c’mon

luke

August 6th, 2009
3:00 pm

P.M. ….. I know plenty of parents that aren’t in any way capable of evaluating a teacher, so that really couldnt work ..

Smiley

August 6th, 2009
3:02 pm

What I’d like to see is some sort of information that could be sent home to parents each year showing the amount of academic growth that children in each teacher’s class experienced. I’m not talking about static scores like those rendered by the CRCT. I’d like to see a test that measures student learning over the school year (with a score at the beginning and one at the end) and shows which teachers are showing growth in their classrooms and which are not. The ones who do not would be required to retrain … and if they did not improve, they would have to find new careers.
Measuring growth would take away teachers’ excuse of “Oh, I just had a bad class this year.” Even a bad class who starts out behind can show growth. It would also make teachers responsible for all children in their class.. not just the middle. The data could be broken out to show growth by the top students, the middle range students and the struggling students.

And no… sorry, but teachers are not the same by any stretch of the imagination.

Cere

August 6th, 2009
3:04 pm

“I can spot which women are teachers when I am shopping in a store.”

That’s interesting Seen it all — seems teachers have this psychic ability – as Vince (also a teacher with several degrees as he impressed upon us) declared on the home school thread, “At the pool, at a park or just walking down the street my wife and I can invariably pick out young people who are being homeschooled…”

Personally, to me, the very thing I try to avoid in teachers are people with egos like this – people who think they “know” people just by looking at them.

And – we do tell doctors, lawyers, mechanics and burger flippers that we don’t like how they do their job – by taking our business elsewhere. We can’t do that with teachers. My son was assigned three of the worst teachers in our high school his first semester there and I said nothing – went along to get along – and it was the worst decision.

Believe me – all teachers are very much not alike.

Cere

August 6th, 2009
3:07 pm

College professors have to allow students to evaluate them at the end of a course. Even worse – they are now subjected to “RateMyProfessor.com” where they are not only evaluated on how they teach, but whether or not they are “hot”… !

Cere

August 6th, 2009
3:10 pm

Joy – pretty much anyone in the corporate world at a managerial level has to have their professional bio posted on the corporate website. Big deal!

mdowney

August 6th, 2009
3:18 pm

Just back from Gainesville. (This is second note as first was riddled with typos. I have a new keyboard and I am adjusting slowly.)
The debate on this topic surprises me. Joy in Teaching, I am not sure why a bio – which can be short and sweet – is an imposition. (I spoke to a group today that had mislaid my e-mailed bio so I sat down with the presenter and we quickly assembled a new one in about a minute.)
And I have to believe that anyone saying that all teachers are the same is joking. Please?
My issue with a short bio isn’t so parents can compare or evaluate a teacher, but simply know a few facts about the person who will spend the next 10 months with my child. Not sure why a bio is seen as either an intrusion or a trap.
By the way, I sprang six comments from the filter.
Folks are e-mailing me at mdowney@ajc.com to let me know when their comments vanish. Please do so if that happens to you.

Joy in Teaching

August 6th, 2009
3:37 pm

Luke, I was only off for 3 weeks, thanks.

Cere, I’m pretty sure that those in the corporate world at a managerial level get paid a great deal more for fewer hours and less training. Not that I’m complaining as I knew what I was getting into.. just pointing it out for you. They also don’t have to deal with crazy children during a full moon nor helicopter parents.

Practical Mom: Teachers also have to help pay their own salaries through taxes. Weird, huh? According to your logic, then teachers also apparently work for themselves. Maybe I’ll give myself a day off in a few weeks.

I am not ashamed whatsoever of my qualifications or background as they are impeccable. I do not mind sharing those in the least if asked. However, I do resent the fact that some people think that it should be yet another thing that is required of teachers.

NCLB is killing public schools. It is turning good students into mediocre ones and it is driving good teachers away in droves. There is a reason why attrition rate for new teachers is so high and they are leaving after only 3 years in the classroom. It is because of all of the ridiculous expectations of time, energy, and talent as well as the mountains of paperwork. It is getting to where teachers can’t seem to do enough for parents, students, or administrators because they always want MORE while cutting our pay, raising our insurance rates, and cutting the days that we have to prepare.

By the way: my school superintendent has already given the word that there will be at least 3 more furlough days after Christmas break.

jim d

August 6th, 2009
3:42 pm

joy,

Sounds like someones had a rough week.

jim d

August 6th, 2009
3:49 pm

Joy,

if you had to come up with aquick bio, you mifght try a bit of cut and past from your resume’ which I would expect any professional to have updated on a regular bassis–should only take a few minutes

Joy in Teaching

August 6th, 2009
3:52 pm

Maureen, writing a bio IS an imposition when you add it to the ever growing pile of stuff that teachers have to do. Dealing with POI is literally kicking my butt right now…as well as working on my school’s leadership team. Both have added at least 6 additional hours to my week over the regular amount of work from last year.

I really don’t think you understand or appreciate how overworked teachers are. I’m sure that you think that writing a short bio won’t take long. And it really wouldn’t. Putting up a word wall doesn’t take long. Nor does putting the standard on student’s displayed work, grading essays, going to 2 afterschool meetings a week, answering emails, teaching classes, putting on bandaids, creating learning focused lesson plans, making copies, taking kids to the restroom, keeping up with educational trends, and all of the other things that “don’t take long.” If you put it all together, then, yeah, it DOES take up a lot of time.

It all adds up. Add one more thing? Bah. It never stops with just one more thing and you know that. That one thing always seems to have babies. Require teachers to have a short bio? Parents wouldn’t be satisfied with that and neither would administrators. It would turn into a series of meetings, a “correct format” would have to be decided upon and used, and something that should take 15 minutes would end up taking hours. That short bio would end up being much more once all is said and done.

And teachers are people who really do like to give to others. Its our nature. But even we are starting to break. Enough is enough.

irisheyes

August 6th, 2009
3:57 pm

My parents find out who the teacher is on “Meet the Teacher” day which was today. If they want to know about me, then all they have to do is walk through my door and talk to me. We don’t give out teachers names earlier, because our secretary already spends too much time answering the phone from parents calling asking who their child’s teacher is. Can you imagine what it would be like once the parents knew? She’d never get anything done!

BTW, I only have a bachelor’s degree, not a master’s, but that certainly doesn’t mean I’m not educated in the latest research. I just can’t afford the $12,000 it would cost me to get another degree. Hopefully, my parents won’t hold that against me.

parent and teacher

August 6th, 2009
4:55 pm

Another reason I have seen mentioned here that schools wait until the last minute is transiency – both of teachers and students. Even though we sign contracts in April, teachers do leave through the summer – spouses get transferred, that great “real-world” job finally opens up for you, expecting moms change their mind about going back to work – you get the picture. In the 10 years I’ve been teaching at the MS level, in schools of about 100 teachers, usually about 5 leave during the summer unexpectedly.

In schools like mine, with 40% transiency rates, you have wait until registration in August before you can even hope to start assigning classes, not to mention balancing them.

It seems like there is a sentiment of Machiavellian intention behind everything schools do – even when it’s a case of practicality, and not conspiracy.

For the record, through my school years in the 70s and early 80s, we never knew who we had until the first day of school, either, like another poster said.

parent and teacher

August 6th, 2009
5:06 pm

Part II – I figured I’d split it up since Maureen said the blog monster tends to prefer entree blogs to appetizers…

On the bio – since my first year teaching, I have always sent home a letter to my parents on the first day of school introducing myself. It’s also posted on my webpage and blog. Our school newspaper always interviews the new teachers shortly after the start of the year, and that, too, is online – plus the “junior reporters” get a kick out of the interview. We teachers don’t even get the lowdown on our fellow new colleagues until the first day of pre-planning, so I don’t think it’s any conspiracy on the part of the school to not provide this to parents. As a parent, I never expected the information, nor did I ask for it – it didn’t really matter to me – what mattered were the answers to the questions I asked my kids when they came home from school each day. This question did remind me of my daughter’s first grade teacher, whose room was plastered in crimson – clearly she went to ‘Bama – Roll Tide! (which she taught the kids to sing – too cute).

JIT is right – it’s not a big thing, but when you look at all the little things we’re expected to do, they all add up. Even a penny can grow to over a million dollars if the number you have is doubled every day.

parent and teacher

August 6th, 2009
5:10 pm

dang – lost it anyway!

Missing post, which will probably show up at some point was talking about bios – most of us give letters of introduction to our kids the first day – what’s wrong with that?

As to RateMyProfessor.com, there is also RateMyTeacher.com – it’s been around since at least 2004. However, teachers are only listed if a student or parent decides to rate them, and the site is not up to date – I know there are teachers listed for my school that haven’t been there in at least four years.

Harper's Mama

August 6th, 2009
5:14 pm

The other thing missing in this is that teachers and administrators being off for the summer precludes any true planning for classes in the summer. The only thing that I am absolutely sure of is what I will be teaching, not who or when.
I suppose, then, that teachers should not have been fuloughed and administrators should not have been cut days. Then Momtowhomever could be able to find out who her kids’ teachers are and either be smug or “demand” the change. But that would require people to actually value education instead of complain about it all the time and pony up and pay teachers more.
Momtowhomever, when anyone says “demand”, it sounds accusatory and degrading. Maybe word choice got in the way of content because I still take offense.

old teach

August 6th, 2009
5:25 pm

Just a little parent story from a teacher.
Many teachers are seem to be teaching “out of field”. Or perhaps in a field in which they are certified but have little experience teaching that subject. My son had an English teacher who had been teaching Spanish for 15 years and , suddenly, was assigned to teach an English Lit class. When my son was not making his usual good grades in that class I went to have a conference. The gentleman told me that it was probably his fault because he really didn’t know anything about what he was teaching even though he was certified to teach English. I suppose he felt comfortable telling me that because he knew that I was a teacher and am totally familiar with the administrative decisions to assign classes without discussing it with the teacher.

parent and teacher

August 6th, 2009
5:25 pm

Ernest – my PTSA puts new teacher bios in the first PTSA newsletter of the year as well.

Seen It All – I definitely differ with your assertion that all teachers are alike – I understand what you mean about “teacher clothes” – teachers and grandmoms keep those holiday sweater and vest people in business. However, the teachers at my school are most decidedly not cookie-cutter.

jim d – I could “cut and paste” from my resume, but it wouldn’t look like a bio. My resume is geared towards describing my achievements in order to get hired, not talking about my background and life experiences. It’s bullet points, not paragraphs.

Mac – agreed – one of the most requested teachers in my school is an ok teacher, but an excellent PR man – for himself!

Practical mom – I live in my district, I shop in my district, and contrary to popular belief, I pay income taxes (many people are under the assumption that no income taxes is a teacher perq). Based on QBE, not only is some of my money going to pay my own salary, but it’s also going to pay the salary of someone in some other county. Parents (and I am one) are not the sole customer of a school. Businesses in the community are as well.

sped teacher bibb

August 6th, 2009
5:27 pm

Maurene- since when did a long list of degrees mean that a teacher is “the best”. My experience is that more degrees means less common sense and inovation is applied in the classroom. Most schools now have a web site that teachers post bios,lessons,homework, and links to homework help.

MA

August 6th, 2009
5:46 pm

Joy in Teaching
August 6th, 2009
1:11 pm
“I’m a grumpy, opinionated middle aged teacher with the middle aged spread going on. I also just started my 22nd year in this profession and have three degrees, one from UGA, another from Piedmont College, and a third from, yes, an online university that I worked my butt off for. (It was much more difficult than UGA, let me tell you.)”
“I’m also considered to be a pretty darned good teacher.”
“then I’m definately not the one for them as I’m practically the exact opposite”.

WOW! Joy in Teaching. I hope that was just a typo. Definitely! It is an “i” not an “a”.

mdowney

August 6th, 2009
5:47 pm

Parent and Teacher, I have found and restored your two posts.
Sped teacher bibb, I am not suggesting that parents get a bio just to see degrees, but to learn some basics about the teacher. I, too, don’t think a long list of degrees assures strong teaching, although I prefer a degree in the content area when it comes to middle and high school.
I have had several parents e-mail me rather than post here to talk about how they would have loved just a bit of background, especially parents delivering their children to school for the very first time.
I have read all the protests above and still think it makes sense and builds goodwill to share a few facts about the teacher with the parents before school starts.
My own system does not post any bios on teachers. So, the Web site is not a resource, although it well could be.
Maureen

Simeon

August 6th, 2009
5:55 pm

I don’t think it is a big deal for teachers to make parent know some bio about them. I have done this several times as a teacher by sending home to parents a brief introduction of myself especially on the firsrt day of school.

However, it should not be overflogged by parents as if heaven and earth would fall apart and on crush on us if not done. Should that become the condition, then I would probably have to require all my children to come into my class the first day of school with bio and all the previous problems encoutered by the parents and child so that I would take a few days to read and prepare myself to deal with them before I start to teach them. This would also give me some time to prepare individual lesson plans to be able to deal with every family apart from the school curriculum. With about 150 students being a conservative estimate of the number of students in my biology class which I teach, I have to request for additional time to prepare my lessons for each day, apart from other administrative demand on me.

I would rather advise parents who are over-emphasizing the demand for bio from teachers to find ways and means of helping the child to adjust to the new teacher instead of a “stellar teacher” that is not easy to find to this day. Most of your worries had already been taken care of by the school systems before your child enters into the new year to meet with the so-called new teacher. Life has no answers at the back of the textbook which you are looking for. Allow your child to interact with the new teacher to learn from what he/she has brought on the table and be patient. As sure as you and I know, if the teacher has brought nothing into the class, he/she must have come in with a variety. And variety is the spice of life. Without it, life becomes monotonous. Give the teacher a professional chance and do your parenting part coperatively with the teacher to help your child.

Simeon

August 6th, 2009
5:56 pm

Enter your comments here

Seen it all

August 6th, 2009
6:16 pm

This is why I love this blog- it’s so funny!!!!!!!

“she never did any of the other fun projects that ALL the rest of the 2nd grade teachers were doing, she did not speak proper English ”

So I guess this what is required to be a good teacher- assigning lots of “fun” projects and speaking PERFECT English (if this teacher happened to misspeak once). BTW, that is an old line. You know, the one about teachers speaking or writing with bad grammar. Mom, that’s Complaining About the Teacher 101. I think you’re ready to move to Complaining About the Teacher 201. Keep studying.

Northview (Ex)Teacher

August 6th, 2009
6:26 pm

This is an interesting topic for me. This is the first time in nine years that I have not been in a Georgia public school this week, preparing to meet with my students on Monday. I felt the lack of being there acutely earlier this week, and I spent some time and energy wondering if I had made a mistake. I actually felt withdrawal pains.

However, as I read many of the parent comments on this blog, I know that I did not. I think one of the great misperceptions many parents have is that they are teachers’ employers. Granted, the public schools are taxpayer-supported, but I never felt that I was accountable to parents. I assure you that my degrees are in content areas, and they were all in respectable schools: no online degrees in educational leadership for me. My teaching was rigorous, demanding, and challenging on every level. I felt accountable to my field, but not to the so-called community where I happened to work.

I found that the vast majority of parents were willing to work with me, as most, even in Georgia, want their children to be educated. But the small percentage that approached me with an agenda were so difficult to deal with that I finally decided simply not to subject myself to their abuse any longer. Several students cried when they heard I would not be back, and others were angry and felt abandoned. The good students, the ones who truly want to learn, have lost out because the school system refuses to deal honestly with parents and students who don’t want to learn, or who want to force the rest of us to be as limited as they are. To remain in teaching would have required dishonesty on my part, so I decided to stop.

I find myself, much to my surprise, in agreement with jimd. In Fulton County, we have the loathsome and despicable Ashley Widener on the school board. She is completely dedicated to destroying public education: bellicose, quick to take offense, and thin-skinned. Katie Reeves is another who should go. Katie thinks that education is a cost, rather than an investment, and her recent comments surely must have dispirited most teachers. One of the best teachers I know (truly stellar) told me recently that she has concluded that public education in Georgia from now on is going to be a joke: the state has simply thrown in the towel. If you defeat this person so that she leaves the classroom, you are cheating your children out of one of the best educational experiences they will ever have.

Parents, you get what you pay for, and that is as true in education as any other area of life. You don’t get a Ferrari when you pay for a Focus. What you are willing to do (and what you are willing to pay) is going to define to what opportunities your children are going to have, now and down the road.

Those of you who actually want your children to be educated have reason to be concerned. If money really makes no difference in education, then why are so many wealthy parents willing to pay $20K a year (plus) for a private education for their children? It seems to me that they want their children to be fully educated while denying that opportunity to the rest of us.