Friday, August 29, 2008

Off We Go...?

Off we go!
Into the wild blue yonder
Flying high
Into the sky

Yes, the sky is the limit as another school year starts. We all remember that feeling when we have that first day/week of school with a new grade, a new teacher and maybe, even a new school. Of course, we don't think of it as a "new spaceship" or "flying saucer" let alone a very challenging puzzle (another from the Rubik's people) where each of six sections splits and divides but also the top and bottom halves also rotate. I'm sure the metaphor is not lost on any of us... our puzzling public schools are again being called upon to "prove their worth" and come up with curriculum and assessments that define and limit the scope and sequence of each grade's subjects and lesson plans. They are minimal requirements strictly to be followed so the responsibility falls squarely on the teacher's and administrator's interpretation of what their student's basic academic needs least paper and pencil needs. So forget about "flights of fancy" and "sky's the limit" when you are bound and evaluated on what in solely in the latest text books and their "test-able" matrices. Creative Rubrics are a thing of the past in most of our schools and woe unto those caught straying from the set grade-level agendas.

In this past (first) week, the above philosophy or point of view was very directly impressed on me as I visited a brand new school. State of the art facility all in very institutional blues and gray tones, I was impressed with how much had been done to make it ready in the last two weeks. "Twelve-hour days." I was told. I was visiting a teacher friend and offering my (volunteer services) once a week for an hour or so. I was welcomed because this teacher had seen me in action last year at another school site. I thought it best to "get the Okay" from the principal before I began next week. I was cautioned and warned that what I was to do and present, as a volunteer, had to be checked by the teacher/administrator ahead of time for how strictly it fell in line with that grade level's curriculum i.e. scope and sequence, lesson plans, "universal access". No "songs" or "math games" that might be too much fun, or off the "subject". I told the administrator what I had just done at another nearby school (and had been doing for the past four years, without complaint) i.e. "The Alphabet Song", "Do Re Mi Song" and "Magic Penny Song/Game". I didn't mention that I had also been asked to give six students a "pre-test" assessment what they already knew coming into the class. (minimal is hoped to show greater growth pre to post) There was a wariness and reticence in the acceptance. My reputation must be proceeding me. (maybe through this blog) It is no secret what I like to teach and how I like to sing with kids and get them to "enjoy" school and their learning. This, evidently, is not the role of a "substitute or guest teacher". Just follow the lesson plan "to a Tee". But couldn't this be a refreshing "act" or "gig" for an itinerant volunteer? We'll soon find out won't whee! Yes, Off we go! RRR