Friday, September 11, 2009

Why does my district LIE (or ”newspaper says our district has 20 students per classroom and I don’t find that funny“)

I came across an article that rated the schools in my city. What I found inside said article (which pulled it's info from the Department of Education) was quite alarming.

Apparently, the official stats for my district say that we have 20 students to every teacher. This is called classroom size and there are many, many, many studies out there that have all found the same thing - smaller is better. The optimal classroom size is between 23 and 27, I think. Well, I've heard tell of this mystical thing called a state law that requires that students in a lab class have no more than 28 students. This is a safety issue because I do not want to be the one legally responsible for all of my students wielding scapels while I try to control them at 54 students.

My current numbers are at something like 170 in 5 classes. For your viewing pleasure - I give you my class sizes:
Period 1 - 25 souls
Period 2 - 33 souls
Period 3 - 42 souls
Period 4 - 33 souls
Period 5 - 34 souls

Now, this wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have "THE ROOM FROM HELL." Alternatively, I've taken to calling it one of the following (and on bad days, all at once in one long stretch) "The room that time forgot," "science room circa 1954," or "land of mismatched stools." I have a room filled with those old-fashioned black benches that have broken faucets and gas outlets and a sea of stools that all look like they've been through world war 7. My students regularly spend 5 minutes of the start of class fighting over the stools and who gets the really sucky ones.

To a teacher, the ability to control the seating in the room is the key to maintaining order. I'm working with a room that takes the ability away from me.

For the first month of school I didn't have enough stools in the room to accommodate the amount of students that I had in there. I had 45 on the books for the one middle class and only 41 stools. I actually took the one stool that was behind the teacher's desk and used it because there was no other choice. I never sit down now.

I was told to "put in a form" to request more chairs the first day. Now, a month into school I finally have enough chairs because I started stealing them. I literally went around the building and snuck into rooms (yes - humming the mission impossible theme in my head) to ransack them for chairs. Yes, I'm probably causing a lot of problems for other teachers but I need the chairs.

I think I have fantasies about buying matching stools for the room so the kids stop fighting and I have enough spots for the butts sent my way. Ugh.

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