Today I was called into the office to talk to the vice principals—both of them.
They wanted to talk to me about my teaching methods and classroom management style. In other words, they wanted to tell me how to teach my class. Never you mind that I constantly employ best practices in my classroom. That’s not the kind of stuff that really matters.
What I Learned From Administrators
- I should not have a reading corner in my classroom, a pleasant area wherein students can relax and read when they are done with their classwork (best practice), because they cannot be properly monitored. They should always sit at their desks, as uncomfortable as they are.
- Students should not be allowed to listen to music as they work (best practice). Does it matter that it helps students focus? Nope.
- Students should not be allowed to play educational games (best practice). Games like http://www.freerice.com that build vocabulary skills should not be played to give incentives for students finishing their work and achieving good scores.
- Make sure that students pass, especially special education students. Whether students turn in their work or not, whether they make an effort to learn or not—they need to receive passing marks. It’s not that it makes a difference in their moving on to the next grade level. Students will go to the next grade whether they earn 50’s or 100’s, and no matter if they pass the state standardized tests. It’s just that it makes the school look bad and requires more paperwork; that’s what matters.
What I Learned From Students
I went on to remove the comfy seats of the reading corner, and begin implementing the suggestions (directives) from my bosses. The first thing that students asked as they came into the classroom was, “What happened to the reading corner? Where did the seats go?”
I had to go on to explain that students would no longer be able to sit in the back and read when their work was done. They had to stay in their seats to read quietly. They would no longer be allowed to listen to music as they worked. They could certainly not be allowed to play online games if they finished their work.
They were pissed. All the rest of the day I had to tacitly explain that students could not partake in the things that previously motivated them to learn. The comments from students ranged from “Why can’t we do this anymore?” to “This sucks” and “I hate this school.” A couple of highly motivated students asked if they could write letters of complaint to the head principal about this.
Way to go admin. This is why students do not love school. It is no longer a place of creating lifelong learners, but an oppressive environment aimed at producing high numbers on a spreadsheet (not that I should mention that in previous years my students have had some of the highest standardized test scores in the district).
I guess my students and I both learned the same lesson today: school is not fun.