What is hindering school reform? Filing cabinets? While I would have never thought that a four drawer file cabinet could be hurting students more than helping them, I find that the teacher's inability to change might be more of a factor. In the file cabinet, there often exists lessons and ideas that have worked through the years. While the author of the blog mentioned above feels that those ideas need to be tossed out with the trash, I would argue that those lessons and ideas simply need to be updated. When I started teaching, I inherited a file cabinet full of stuff that the teacher I was replacing left. Was she doing me a favor or was she simply trying not to take that stuff with her. Who knows? After my first three years of teaching, I finally took the time to throw most of it away. Was there good stuff in there? Probably, but I never had the time to sort through it all. I would bet that most teachers have a ton of stuff in their cabinets and drawers that they don't even use any more. Perhaps getting that four drawer cabinet down to a two drawer, a cd-rom, or a flash drive would be more appropriate than finding the nearest hand truck and getting rid of it completely.

The next topic mentioned in the blog, is MANDATORY professional learning. Now, I agree that teachers need to be constantly learning. We are trying to get the students to become life long learners and if we don't practice what we preach, then something is wrong. However, forcing teachers is not the way to go. When you tell someone they have to do something, they often head into that activity with a bad taste in their mouth. However, improving on the current inservice time that teachers have, perhaps given them choices on what to work on, could be a better alternative. Teachers' time is valuable and they certainly don't want it wasted. The author mentions that given a choice between learning and working in their rooms, they choose the second. I completely disagree. There simply isn't enough time in the day for the record keeping, parent communication, and other paperwork districts and NCLB are piling on. Teachers need the time and using that time effectively doesn't translate into a lack of wanting to learn. Most teachers are very willing to learn new techniques and strategies. As many of us know, districts are not very willing to pay for grad classes and workshops like businesses are. Businesses want their employees to learn more and are willing to provide the time and the money to train them. Schools are not willing or perhaps not able financially, to make that same commitment and it's unfortunate.

4 comments

  1. Pissed Off // February 28, 2007 at 2:56 PM  

    You hit the problem on the nose. I never minded staff development that I could learn something from. I have spent many Saturdays going to AP calculus workshops. The material I learned was invaluable to my students. The problem is that worthwhile staff development is not provided in NYC. No money is spent on paying anyone to prepare. Often, a newbie teacher is railroaded into presenting a topic they know nothing about. I went to an excel workshop where the presenter used DOS commands.

    I have been asked to present workshops, but in the current environment, I don't feel like putting in the time and effort required, so I don't do them. Too bad most experienced teachers in my school feel the same way I do.

  2. happychyck // February 28, 2007 at 5:46 PM  

    I had a great idea while reading your entry. Wouldn't it be nice that if during those inservice days we have a list of options of development we might need as professionals, and we could go off campus to attend those trainings. Like a weekend course? My last inservice included training in differentiated instruction, which thankfully I had to miss to attend magnet program meeting. I've been trained on differentiated learning many times and own the books that the school was checking out. Now, on the other hand, I just finished an online course on researching using the Internet, and that was a topic I've needed improvement on for a while. Is that a topic you might see in an inservice--especially in a tech-rich school like mine? Probably not. Too bad, though. I took the course with two of my colleagues and we were all pleased with our newfound knowledge and techniques. Give us what we need and we might learn something!

  3. Pissed Off // February 28, 2007 at 7:36 PM  

    We had a Principal once who said we could do stuff like happychyck suggests. I actually took her up on it (I was going to the workshops anyway). I don't think she was too happy about releasing me from school staff development

  4. rookie teacher // February 28, 2007 at 9:29 PM  

    AMEN to that!

    I've been taking courses because I want to and have been paying dearly for them (I'm in a Master's program part-time but am also taking professional development courses - yes I'm a keener). I wish that we would get some financial slack.

    We're in the business of education. We are teaching students not only what to learn but how to learn. It's definitely important for teacher's to keep taking courses but when one course alone is costing upwards of almost a thousand bucks ... a lot of teachers use the money as an excuse.

    Most of the teachers I know take courses just so they can get to the next pay level and then never take a course again. There are others still who haven't opened a text book since they graduated.

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