mathispower

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 11 2011

My first step is to get these stories out there – Instructional Time

One morning of my first year teaching I walked into my classroom and my heart froze.  All I could think was some one had done this out of spite.  My desks and chairs were strewn everywhere, files and papers that were (somewhat) organized for grading or lessons were in heaps thrown everywhere.  And what truly wrenched my heart was all of my wall displays, big goal poster, star students wall, was literally shredded from the walls on the floor.  It took me several minutes of standing there to realize my room had not been broken into and vandalized.  They had installed new whiteboards on all the walls and this was their way of dealing with what was up.  I dragged an administrator into my room and the only response I got was, “didn’t they give you a memo yesterday to remove everything you didn’t want thrown out?”

A year later I had almost the exact same experience.  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was supposed to visit my classroom in two days.  In the middle of teaching first period, my assistant principal walked in and said I had to go… What?!  He said, pick up whatever you need, you can teach in an empty room today, we need to wax the floors before Duncan gets here.  So my students carried their work, the computer, projector, etc. to a new classroom.  I returned sixth period to get my purse and was told I couldn’t enter the room because they had waxed the floors.  Everything from my classroom was sitting outside.  I got to school the next morning and was supposed to be at a field trip all day with my students and came in to find everything in a mountain on a table.  That is, the files of work turned in, work to pass back, past homework assignments, all those papers had been dumped out onto a table.  I was going to be gone all day and had the Secretary of Education visiting my classroom the next day and all of my students’ work and my lessons were clearly just trash.  Just make sure the floors sparkle.

And here I am in my third year at the school.  This week my students are taking the CSTs.  We test in the mornings and get out early.  Around 4th period two men came to my room.  They asked if we were still testing.  I said no… They said they were going to replace my door.  I pointed to our schedule and asked if it couldn’t wait until after school let out in an hour.  They said no, they wouldn’t have time and assured me they’d do the noisy part outside.  Well the noisy part was hammering my door and then drilling into it.  Inside or out, it’s being done to the door.  My students and I couldn’t hear or say a thing.  I went back to them and again asked them to wait until after school.  They asked again if we were testing.  No, but I am teaching!  No, they had to do it then.  They hammered and drilled through a period and a half.  Of course, they cannot disturb the precious CST.  But LAUSD sent a message loud and clear today how they feel about instructional time.

I wish this were where the stories end.  However, a friend sent me a very similar story of her own from LAUSD when she heard about the incident today.  I asked her:

Where do we take this frustration?  It’s more than frustration.  I feel deep disgust and hate for the people who have built and perpetuate this system in the name of our students.  I don’t know what to do with that.  It drives me and it drains me at the same time.  So I’m asking all of you: what do we do with this?

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