I have been a teacher for fourteen years and I feel like a brand new teacher right out of college. Why you ask? I think it is the slow piling of more responsibilities over the last ten years on my shoulders. I am so overwhelmed that I can't keep my email at work straight! How could this happen?
About ten years ago we started state "high stakes" testing. It seemed like a good idea back then. Soon after the testing began we started interventions. At first, interventions was leveled by using the state test and you saw the same kids every day. Then we decided to retest every quarter and switch the students around in interventions depending on how they scored on the quarterly tests as well. Three years ago I moved to a school that switched interventions daily! Some teachers like this, but I never like anything that switches around too rapidly.
Last year we lost our wonderful language arts teacher in 7th grade to retirement. She was not replaced. I have been told I should be very happy about this due to the fact that I could have been fired (I'm the science teacher) so the school could hire a reading/writing teacher. So who is teaching reading? Well our grade level has joined with the sixth grade teachers so we can get all subjects taught with minimal teachers. That means that I am now teaching reading, 6th grade science, and 7th grade science. We have 36+ in a class. My principal is very worried about reading because it is now in the hands of several people.
I ask you, how can a school get good scores on a state test when there is not enough teachers to bring the class size down to a manageable level? How can reading scores improve when there is no reading teacher? How can anyone possibly think that cutting science teachers is an option? There will be jobs in science in the future. Will the United States have anyone to fill them? One thing is for sure, if we pull it off and our students meet the standard on that reading test this year, we won't be getting another reading teacher...
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