The Impossibility of Stability

The Impossibility of Stability

The school year is here                                                                                             I hope this year is better than last

387 smiling faces walk into school                                             So many stories hidden behind those smiles

Teachers out on maternity leave                                                       I wish my class had a long term substitute

Five different substitutes in one week                          My classroom is going to be a disaster when I return

Students continue enrolling                                                                       Will I ever get all my students tested?

472 students after week six of school                                                                When will I get to start teaching?

4.5 teachers allocated                                                                                         Allocations, we still have to find them

No candidates to hire                                                                                  We should wait for an effective teacher

Class sizes are at 30 and rising                                                                              Should we settle for a warm body?

Master schedule changes to accommodate                                              Another disruption to our school day

Another new student today                                                              You were sitting at home for these 7 weeks?

New teachers hired to start in January                                                                                                          FINALLY

Student moves again                                                                            I wonder how long you will be out of school

Master schedule changes to accommodate                                                                         A welcomed disruption

Outsiders say “you are in it for the outcome, not the income”               The stress isn’t worth the money

Blood on the wall from a fight in the classroom                                                                     I can’t do it anymore

One less 5th grade teacher                                                                                   Will we ever have a consistent staff?

No consistent long term substitutes                                                                                  What are we going to do?

The class is permanently divided between the other 2 teachers                            I don’t know if I can do it

Student moves back                                                                                 She has been out of school for 2 months?!

Class sizes are up to 36                                               Small groups of 12? Will I teach them anything this year?

70% of students fail the state test                                                                                     Did I do everything I could?

Teachers are criticized for low passing rates                                                              Am I that bad of a teacher?

They leave                                                                                                                                      I can’t do this my entire life

40% of teachers agree to come back next year                                                        Next year has to be better…

And start the failing cycle all again                                                                                                                            …right?

How can we be the constant in an environment that is completely unstable?


2 thoughts on “The Impossibility of Stability

  1. No Optimistic Chant Left Behind

    Be the champion of children!

    No excuses!

    We have to be the constant in a word that is only variables for these children.

    What is best for kids?

    We have to be intentional with our practices.

    This is not about us. This is about the kids.

    If not us, then who is going to fight for them?

    If not now, then when will anybody fight for them?

    The first three days of PD before school starts is full of echoed chants like this, but soon, they are forgotten when PD is instead filled up with logistical manners. Dismissal procedures. Who will be the field trip volunteers? What do our intervention schedules look like? Here’s this month’s testing schedule. Remember to bring the breakfast bucket back by 8:05. Don’t be late to Friday’s early release meeting. Sign up online. Here’s a new iPad and a training you have to go for that.

    We’re left with the question: When will they invent more hours in the day for the life of a teacher?

  2. Large Class Sizes
    One of the reasons schools often feel so unstable is the growing class sizes. Numbers in classes are higher due to budget cuts, lack of teachers to hire and teachers being out. All of these areas
    Scenario 1: A school loses funding due to budget cuts. The school is allocated 15 teachers, the same as the previous year. The school down the street closed last year and the enrollment is projected to increase by at least 80 students. Though the school is overflowing, no additional teachers are being hired. The class sizes go from 21 to 30. According to a recent survey by the American Association of School Administrators, 44 percent of districts are expected to increase class sizes. For those districts with budget cuts, they will not have the funding to add additional teachers to aide their growing schools.
    Scenario 2: A school has class sizes of 34 in the 4th grade. The school district sees the class sizes are too high for students to be making the needed growth. An allocation is given to the school to hire another 4th grade teacher. One teacher says “I’ll be excited when I see the whites in their eyes”. This has happened before. An allocation does not mean another teacher. The principal starts to interview candidates but there is no one to hire. The class sizes remain at 34. According to the National Education Agency (NEA), the biggest impact of large class sizes is felt in elementary schools. “student test scores indicate that small class sizes help close the achievement gap in grades K-3 by up to 38 percent”.
    Scenario 3: A school has a full staff with an average of 26 kids in each class. A teacher is out on maternity leave. Some days a substitute teacher shows up. Other days no one is available to cover the class. The secretary lines up all the kids and walks down the hallway. 4 kids are given to each teacher in the 1st and 2nd grade hallway. The students and teacher are unfamiliar with each other and the day is pretty much a wash.
    These scenarios are an everyday problem for many schools in Tulsa Public Schools and other schools all around. One way to promote stability inside schools is to have a constant low number in all classes. Without this, many schools will continue to fail.

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