Politics everywhere

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“Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly
concern them.”

~ Paul Valery (1871 – 1945), (credit for quote to Bob at lakesideadvisors.com)

My Facebook posts are filled with reprints of recipes. I don’t cook and I don’t much care about cooking, either. I repost an occasional kitty. I will sometimes tell the world when I don’t feel well.

But I never tell my Facebook friends what I actually am feeling about my job, not on public media anyway. These are dangerous times and jobs have been lost through imprudent posts. I never post my reservations or hesitations. I expect the district is trolling through posts looking for dissension in the ranks. Consequently, we all post recipes. You’d think the teaching profession had barely survived a famine in the last few years. My feed is filled with exciting things to do with cauliflower, punctuated by pumpkin smoothie recipes.

Eduhonesty: Almost every educator I know is keeping his or her head down right now. In staff meetings, it’s fun to watch teachers find ways to answer critical questions without criticizing anything.

Moderator: After seeing the video, in what ways do you think you might improve your own practice?
Teacher: I think I could differentiate more for my students by making more use of student data.
Moderator: Do you disagree with the video in any way?
Teacher: I think the video is excellent. I am not sure I could get all 32 of my students to work in pairs that well. I may need more professional development in this area.

The teacher’s thrown in the key word, “data,” and bypassed the fact that she is actually positive there’s not a way in hell her 32 students would work that well in pairs. For one thing, there’s no camera on her students and no one has prepped them how to behave for that nonexistent camera. She has also asked for more professional development. That always sounds good, whether the teacher believes that development would be useful or not.

I had a colleague who solved the small group conundrum posed by administrator advice. She told the administrator she was not sure how to break her class into groups of four and teach them in a tag-team fashion while keeping all groups on task. She then asked the administrator to demonstrate how this was done. The issue was never raised again, at least by that administrator, who ducked the issue entirely and never demonstrated anything. I recommend this technique. When admin asks you to split the class into seven groups of four and teach them all one at a time while the others do independent, productive work — ask the administrator to model the expected behavior. If any of them actually do as you request, and it works, please contact me.

Eduhonesty: Years ago, I read a book called “Eighth Moon” about life in Communist China during the Great Leap Forward. Life in education today reminds me of that book. We never dare risk criticizing the current regime. We sometimes suggest we need more training in order to fully comply with Chairman Mao’s demands.

I did not used to believe in unions. I’ve changed my position. If there are any teachers out there speaking honestly, I suspect it’s because they trust the union to protect them. As the unions are hobbled or broken, the level of honest speech falls with them. That loss reverberates through the educational community and directly impacts our students, whose teachers are quietly following so-called best practices that they can see don’t work, but are afraid to challenge.