By Utah Teacher Susan Wilcox
We are being duped.
My trust of our district people led me to just go along with many things that I was not aware would be so controlling. At the end of the year, while we were cleaning out things and had little time to talk, they called us together to ask if they could spend the money on SRA courses that were excellent (in their opinion) – brought NO SAMPLES, and we agreed.
– In one short moment, we had changed from our own lesson plans to nationally written materials.
When we got them during the summer, there was no training yet for using them; they were piled on our shelves and one district person said to just pick them up and get going; the other said wait for training. (I’m not sure they even knew what they were doing.)
After being trained, I was excited at first with how well these were put together. Then I noticed the green agenda in there and political stuff that could be controversial, and just thought I was being “old fogie” in my thinking.
There were sideline comments about extinction of certain animals. It was the SRA Reading Mastery program, and the 2nd year we switched to another program by the same company.
It was more directly teaching reading skills. It didn’t have a lot of writing in it, but what it had I liked.
The problem is – I was between a rock and a hard place; we, as teachers, were directly responsible for their IEP goals, and these programs did NOT serve the IEP goals for each of my students. In my own training and part of my OWN resolve to help Special Education students, I determined to copy and read NIGHTLY their goals when preparing lessons. I don’t know WHAT could be more important (since parents sign this document and it is a legal paper of what this child NEEDS..) than following the individual needs of a student. I never felt there was any place or time to express these things within the district. They just plowed forward training us.
It was kind of exciting that a course would be followed when students transferred in the district, so they would have the same course going on. There were other selling points, but in the end there is no better course for a student than the inspired lessons of a loving eacher, who lives with that child for hours every day – even more hours than their parents see and work with them.
It is a sacred trust to me, and I was NOT happy to have that taken away. It is the reason good people choose to be teachers. We realize that PEOPLE are our most important resource, and we want to mold and train them to have the skills they need.
Our job is not to indoctrinate in ANY way. That is a parent’s privilege and borders on religion.
I felt SO outcast in the schools. Everyone is just worried about keeping their jobs and talk REALLY softly when expressing their feelings, when what they FEEL is what they should be loudly acclaiming.
Teachers have to express in private because they are afraid of losing their jobs. I will no longer hold back, because I don’t have and don’t WANT a job in the public sector again. I held out to help my husband get retired and pay off debt so we could free ourselves. I hope to be of value to the WONDERFUL teachers in our schools, who need our help.
Since I taught resource, I only listened in the faculty room to teachers who were very upset, but stayed calm to keep their jobs. They need those of us who are in a good situation to help to do exactly that.
I don’t like our unions because, at least in Utah, they have done nothing to help our teachers. They can’t speak up because the unions have no power to save their jobs and side with the district in defending them.
But I wish the district could record faculty room talk…they would find out that most of the teachers feel pressured, blamed for everything that goes wrong with parents, and end up being the beating stick in education, when we are actually the only ones saving those students between what they need and what is coming to them.
I was told to read a script to my resource students – SRA Reading course, and it did not serve the IEP’s of my students.
I did a much better job designing lessons for EACH student as I prayed over my stewardship as a teacher. I greatly resented being told my methods were not research-based, and therefore not acceptable.
I researched the files of my students, and I don’t know what better research a teacher could do but read the entire written history of each student, and follow through with a lesson plan for what they needed.
The direct instruction was very nicely designed. It was easy and saved time for all the ridiculous paperwork in Special Education. But I only taught half day and did paperwork the rest. I wanted to be more effective to my students.
Since music is being cut, my chances were better at business at home. I always did better at home – I got up to $6000 in grants to run a children’s orchestra over a period of 25 years from outside sources, but always felt like “WHY do I have to do this OUTSIDE the schools?” – They were my dream classes in orchestra.
The district held me back. I am not happy though that only kids who could pay a community school fee got my expertise. The schools should unleash teachers and their talents and stop all the accountability nonsense. They can use those programs on teachers who have not done well and evaluate them…to help them. These programs stops teachers from planning – and wearies their day. It takes their attention away from planning and doing a good job. I am very against the focus on teachers as though THEY were the problem.
I home schooled, half-and-half, with my own children. They were too smart for the wasted time in the public school.
This doesn’t feel like the America I once knew. The time to speak up strongly has come for me. I am not holding back. I read a lot and study the issues, but I know the feelings I have I can always trust in the situations I encounter. I go by those…they don’t fail me.
By Susan Wilcox