Friday, January 30, 2009

Epiphany - Less work equals more Teacher

For weeks I've been wracking my brain about the pacing guides versus the state standards.

Backing up for those of you that are not in the teaching profession: there are federal laws that dictate what constitutes what will be taught for each subject for each state. This is to ensure that a student who relocates from school system A to school system B will theoretically be taught the same materially and get an equivalently good education. However, this isn't usually how it works out since there is little governmental oversight.

In the inner city spectrum of the educational world, to make matters even more complicated, we don't just have federal rules on what we're supposed to be teaching for our subject area. We also have these little guides that tell us what we supposed to be covering by each 4 and 1/2 week period, conveniently called a pacing period. At the end of these pacing periods, the students get tested and if their tests scores aren't up to snuff... people and schools get axed.

We call this "No Child Left Behind." I won't get into that subject here because I don't understand it enough yet to have an opinion either way.

I do know that I think the pacing guides are confusing, vague, not well organized, difficult to follow, and generally have been the ban of my existence for 6 months. I've been trying to organize my units and lessons around them because I follow the state standards but they are no help because they are so VAGUE! These couldn't be any less helpful if they weren't in English.

So... I finally got sick of them tonight and said a naughty adult word while throwing them across the room. I pulled out my copy of my state standards and looked at them again. Well organized, the content well explained, in-depth, thorough, and consistent - I think I will use these to make my own pacing guides. It's not really what I had planned on doing, but my kids don't get the tests anyway so I don't have to worry about NCLB. For now.

I'm still teaching by the state standards. I'm totally committed to that. Until I'm teaching a subject that I'm certified to teach in (Biology, Chemistry) I'm going to go with the state standards and not the pacing guides because they make much more sense. Anything that makes my job a little easier is totally worth it. I need all of my energy for the kids.

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