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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What Teachers Need

This week, I have been talking about SPED or ESS. This post is a reflection of my time in this environment but pertains to all teachers everywhere.


There are certain things every teacher should have access to so that they can help their students can succeed academically. Here is my list of things teachers need!

 

CURRICULUM
You would think that this is an obvious one but with budget cuts and increasing student populations, something has to give somewhere. 
One of the things to cut... consumable materials. Workbooks that were designed for student use to go with textbooks are disappearing from the budgets so part of the key components of the curriculum is gone. Some districts want to do away with textbooks completely as they are too expensive. Then what will the students use? 
Special Education curriculum is expensive. At the school I was at, it simply was not in the budget. It hasn't been in the budget for the past six years. It is not in next year's budget either. Instead the ESS teachers are trying to modify general education materials for use with the students. It is difficulty; it is not working very well.


 

TECHNOLOGY

 With the focus on CCSS which includes technology based standards, you think technology would be a part of every class. ESPECIALLY, assistive technology in an ESS classroom or a school cutting back on curriculum and thinking eliminating textbooks. 


There is 1 shared computer per classroom. There is a projector. Shared means between students and teacher. So much for privacy if all student records are accessible by the students! No smart boards, no iPads, no TVs, or stereos. And no computer lab.

hmmm.... 
This school is struggling to meet NCLB
wonder why? 
(sorry, sarcastic response just seemed to be needed here!)

MONEY
While money has been donated to help out the school it goes to pay for teachers. It pays for paraprofessionals and teachers for specials.

There was no music, art, pe, or library until a donation was made to pay for salaries for these items. The school district already had to cut back on recess as there is simply no one to watch the students play. So they sit in class all day without a break.

Can you imagine sitting all day at your job without a break? No recess, no specials, and no planning time.  So the donated funds went to pay for these things.

CLASSROOM SPACE
The schools in this district are all the same and were built in the last decade. They actually have windows but they are next to the ceiling. They let in some light and you have a nice view of the sky. A great little reminder that it is a nice day outside but you won't get to enjoy it. Not even at recess, there is no recess. You can see it at lunch... for 25 minutes if you eat quickly.

This is the entire size of the classroom... see the 6 desks. I am standing by the back wall next to the teacher's desk. You are only not seeing the wall of shelves, another row of 3 desks, and the door in this picture. Ignore the office to the right. Now imagine fitting in up to 35 desks in this space! 

Yes, yes you read that right... I did not take a picture of the other rooms to show its chaos but I am sure you can imagine. No cubbies, no place to hang jackets, no coat closets. This is it. Even office workers in cubicles have more space than in this design for a classroom.

With all the desks and chairs... there is no room for centers. No room for carpet time. No room for bulletins boards (2 walls are white boards, the third is built in shelves). No room for a quiet spot to relax when one is overwhelmed. No room for partner reading, no room for privacy during testing.

Sigh....

To be fair, the Kindergarten pod had space. Each classroom had its own bathroom. Tables replaced desks and had matching tiny chairs. The rooms were the same size just smaller kids and less of them fit better. I am thinking if I knock a wall down between two classrooms, then I would be good on space!
I know not all schools are like this. In fact MOST of the schools my children have attended have been amazing places with curriculum, technology, and space. They have also been in middle class schools in nice neighborhoods.

While the houses look nice, this area is riddled with poverty. We are here as we lost 70% of our income due to the economy as are most of our neighbors. The boys are currently homeschooled. The question is, can they receive an education in a system that can't meet the basic needs of teachers and students?

And while I am asking off-topic questions, is the reason schools in poverty ridden areas are struggling or failing because they lack the basic resources necessary to provide students with a minimum level of education?

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