I’m interesting!

Something I meant to write about a while back, but the craziness of the semester prevented it:

Last semester, there was a grad student in one of my classes. She is really interested in social justice, and led a few lessons on the topic (some of which were enlightening) – I really enjoyed having her in the class.

Because she is a grad student, she had a research paper to write. She interviewed all of us about our perspectives on social justice: how it affects our lives, our teaching, where our opinions originated, etc. It was an interesting interview, and I should be receiving a copy of the paper soonish. It’s all anonymous, of course, but I really want to know what the some of my other classmates had to say about some of their experiences/opinions on the topic, as I think my views often differ from my peers.

In any case, she asked me (and other students, I presume) if I would mind her following me next year when I get into my student teaching and possibly my first year of teaching. I have to say, I am extremely flattered that she would find my views on social justice and teaching interesting enough to follow me, but I’m also incredibly curious about what she discovers in her research. I think it’ll be a really good experience for me, and will get me thinking about the issues. I mean, we all consider issues of social justice, but I think being part of her research will help me think about topics before they come up in my classroom, and perhaps allow me take a more proactive approach to such issues with my students.

I’m sure there will be more about this in the future, but I wanted to mention it for those who might be keeping up with the blog somewhat regularly.

All year long…

Lately, I’ve heard quite a bit about year-round school vs. traditional calendar school in the local news:

Superior Court Judge Howard E. Manning, Jr. ruled Thursday that the Wake County school system can not force students into year-round schedules.

Which leaves a lot of people wondering – where are these kids going to go? They can’t build schools fast enough, and the students keep coming. According the article, they’re trying to come up with all kinds of options, but the only other one that seems possible is splitting the day – having an “early shift” (approx. 7-12:30) and a “late shift” (approx. 1:30-7) for students.

Parents don’t want that, either.

So perhaps a little background is important. Year round school is generally nine weeks on, three weeks off. This means that students and teachers would be in school for nine weeks (already the typical grading period), with three-week breaks between. For a lot of families, it’s hard to find childcare every two months for a month. I can see the issue there, though don’t a lot of parents typically have to find childcare for three months once a year, anyway? Seems like that would work itself out (highschoolers looking for babysitting jobs, camps that would cater to year-round school schedules, etc). And, I would think that typical family vacations are three weeks or less, anyway.

There are always exceptions, but on the surface, year-round schooling doesn’t seem to be a problem. There are a lot of opinions as to the actual benefits regarding retention, but nobody seems to think academics are suffering due to year-round schedules.

However, Wake County and a lot of other overcrowded school districts are using the year-round scheduling on a track system to help maximize the number of students that can learn in a given building. It sounds like a good idea, but it becomes a clusterfuck when you realize that parents with multiple children will sometimes have kids on different tracks. Teachers have to share classrooms – moving out of their room every nine weeks and moving into a new room three weeks later.

As a future teacher, the notion of moving all my crap every grading period does not make me happy. I’d rather have it all there, organized, where I need it. Part of the appeal of teaching is having my own classroom… it just seems so temporary

But what are these school systems supposed to do? This is a lose-lose situation for everyone, and compromise isn’t coming easy. I know that Wake County is doing everything it can to accommodate these kids, but there are just too many.

Tempers are flaring on both sides of this issue, as parents fight for both sides, school systems struggle to come up with a good plan, teachers worry that they’ll be shuffled around…

The saddest part is, it’s the kids who are caught in the middle.

This is a pretty good resource for the pros/cons of year-round school… it appears to be fairly balanced.