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I teach kindergarten and I hate what I am doing in my classroom


Ohanian Comment: I received this e-mail in response to my outrage--and grief--at New Books for Kindergarten Students starring Terry Abbott and Jon Scieszka.

She is anonymous because teachers have lost their identity as well as their professionalism--and there is no national group fighting to help them regain either. After all, the lobbyist and leaders and camp followers at NCTE insist that "systematic, direct, and explicit" as employed in the LEARN (sic) legislation they helped draft don't really mean what they mean when employed by, say, the giant publisher McGraw-Hill/SRA.

Since our corporate politicos, our unions, and our professional organizations are busy Sitting at The Table and drafting legislation like LEARN (sic) and the Common Core Standards--so busy they don't hear the cries of teachers or children-- I make this offer: If you have advice for a kindergarten teacher who hates what she's doing, send it to me, and I'll pass it on and/or post it on this website.

susano@gmavt.net

It occurs to me that we could have a Dr. Phil-type show, where teachers confess how they are hurting kids and then the Expert gives advice and sends them for Rehab. But where's the Rehab when a teacher is good at what she does and loves doing it (when she's allowed to)?


Here are a few recent items on related topics:

  • New Books for Kindergarten Students
  • Studying Young Minds and How to Teach Them
  • Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School [pdf file]
  • Parent Permission Slip for the 21st Century


  • by a Kindergarten Teacher

    I teach kindergarten and I hate what I am doing in my classroom.

    Our day is on a schedule that must be kept: 90 minutes of reading, 75 minutes of math, and 75 minutes of science. We have 20 minutes scheduled for writing and 20 minutes for social studies, but I rarely get to those two subject areas because our reading time takes up the whole morning. We are using a guided reading with rotating centers.

    Our school days is 9-3:45. Our snack time is 15 minutes long in the afternoon. The 15 minutes that we use for snack is actually part of our science time. We use FOSS (Full Option Science System) for science.

    Every minute of the day is to be used for academics. One day we were coloring and cutting out some animal faces to attach to headbands so that the next day in math we would solve equations by using the animals as part of the equation (math with a bit of drama) by telling a story. The Assistant Principal asked me why I was wasting academic time to color and cut. "Why don't you do this (cut and color) during some other time?"

    I asked when she would like me to do this and she suggested during a reading center but she quickly retracted that suggestion. She then suggested that we do this during snack time.

    Snack time! All 15 minutes of it. I could not believe I was actually having this conversation. I am so totally shocked and at the same time saddened by what we are doing to our young children. I am retiring at the end of this next year because I can no longer do this. I love teaching and I am good at what I do, no matter what grade level I might be teaching. I am stifled by all of the programs we must implement, by our collaborate learning communities (where we plan what objectives will be taught on what day). We are told that we can teach the objective any way we want to but then when administrators walk into each of our classrooms they want to know why we are not all doing the same things.

    I love a challenge and the challenge for me has always been how to teach the objective in the most relevant, meaningful, fun (the new "F" word), motivating way I could. I am no longer challenged. I was the teacher who thought outside the box and now I am stuck in the box, screaming to get out! I don't know how to change things.

    We even had a meeting one day to plan our math for the rest of the year and we got into this heated discussion about our kids having recess. The instructional coach stated that instead of taking a recess we could have the kids count and do 10 jumping jacks or hop 10 times while counting so that we continue the academics. We agreed to disagree when the AP walked in and we asked her if we could take a recess. She went and spoke with the principal, returned, and informed us that we could take a recess but only 10 minutes. That 10 minutes is to include lining up to go out and returning to the classroom and should any of us abuse it, even by a minute, we would lose the privilege of recess. Ridiculous. Please know that I am certainly going to print the report Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School [pdf file], and give it to both my principal and my assistant.

    I read somewhere that research showed that when we push kids to read too early they lose their enthusiasm and interest in reading in their later years of school (4th grade or so). I have such a great group of kinder kids and I love them but I can't help but wonder if I am hurting them. We test continuously. We have DRA'ed them twice already, DIBELed them twice, and given them 3 math assessments. We analyze the results to improve instruction. OMG, I am sickened by all of this. My principal insisted that I give them a grade in each subject area every week. I informed him that I do not test my kids (paper and pencil) every week and he asked, "Why not?"

    I could go on and on but I won't. Thanks for acknowledging my anger, my fear and my disgust with education today. I would be honored if you shared this info.

    — Kindergarten Teacher
    e-mail

    2009-12-29


    na


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