CURRICULUM AND TEACHING
The group again saw a common thread running through most of the situations shared and wanted to discuss that "theme". It seemed the consensus of the group that each situation backed into the teachers having to decide how they were going to help students who appeared not to care. What were the issues involved in decisions that resulted in teachers "going out on a limb" to give a student an additional chance to participate in learning, to get a passing grade, and to make use of the opportunity to learn the teacher's package.
How much can a teacher base his/her judgment on "gut-feelings" in determining a grade: how much does effort count, how much does the quality of a project count (especially in reference to students with special needs). How does the weight of the course count, i.e., is there a difference in the A from Trig. and a "watered down" course? Is the problem really responsibility or is it a problem of not having "worthy" consequences or high enough expectations for all students? Do private schools have higher standards, higher expectations or more rigorous consequences? Will the Graduation Standards impact student indifference and teacher frustration? What is the responsibility of parents and community on what/how the students behave in public schools? What is the will of the community regarding student responsibility for attendance, behavior, grades, and respect? Now that the district has eliminated summer school, what bottom line-hold does a teacher have on students who don't care they are not doing the course work or getting satisfactory grades?
Theories behind practice:
Impact on others:
The group came to the end of the discussion with little ability to think of alternatives they could offer to improve students’ learning. They are doing their best within their limitations as mandated by the system. They conclude that “the system” is out-of-control, lax and mediocre and the only option they have at their recourse is to use the survival skills that get-them-through each day. Sometimes they feel good about what they do; many times they “struggle” with what happens between themselves and students. I personally feel quite foolish trying to suggest alternative ideas. The ideas I have described out of the Constructivist Theory of Learning or from the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, or from Brain Based Learning are politely “shot-down” with the proverbial “yeah but...that wouldn’t work here”! I am not offended by their reactions, I just wish I could move them off of their mindsets. But then, I am not in their shoes day after day. I am not in the district! I relate to these teachers’ frustrations. I sincerely believe every teacher in my group grieves about the students she/he is not reaching or influencing. I also believe that this reflective meeting is the best thing that is happening to them, though the objectives of the “real” process are not being met. And so, I am at the same ending I have concluded with each of my reports, the objectives need to be evaluated, the process needs to be redesigned. The teachers I am working with are not at a developmental place to work with the Reflective Process as it is outlined by Programa Interdisciplinario de Investigacion en Education. I hope I can be part of a continuation of this program next year. I would want to generate creative alternatives to offer mentors, first year teachers, administrators and college facilitators. The dynamics of the process is too valuable to lose. The expectations need to be put on a different time line.