Misplaced priorities

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In my last post, I included the following paragraph:

“Before accepting an offer, check these assertions with rank-and-file teachers in the building. Ask them about meetings and data. Ask them about standardized test prep, benchmark tests and other mandatory testing procedures. Ask them about teacher camaraderie. Where do most people eat lunch? Ask them if they believe their school is well run. Why or why not? How large are classes? Are disciplinary policies effective? What’s the best thing about the district? What’s the worst?”

When I reread that post, I thought about a rewrite, a reorganization. Then I decided I’d leave this paragraph alone, but comment on the order of the ideas. I find it sad that I started with meetings, data, standardized test prep, benchmark tests and other mandatory testing procedures before I ever reached the set of questions that I would have asked first ten or even five years ago — the questions we ought to be asking. Are the other teachers fun to work with? Are they helpful? Is the school well run? What will daily life be like in your school?

Tests, testing and test preparatory activities easily ate up 10% of my school year last year and, depending on how “test preparatory activities” is defined, may have come closer to eating up 20%. Going into an interview for a new position, my main concern now would be finding out if I would actually be given enough time to teach between tests.