How To Have An Excellent School Year

Back-to-school season is upon us, so now seems like a good time for a quick review of all the things teachers do and don’t need in order to ensure their students have an Excellent Educational Experience this year.

We’ll start with a list of things we don’t need:

  1. Training. Everyone knows that teacher training programs suck. Let’s stop insisting that teachers complete extensive coursework in educational methods, research, and pedagogy–and let’s stop forcing them to complete practicum and student-teaching experiences before they’re allowed to run their own classes. All those things are dumb. What we should do is make sure future teachers don’t major in education. They really only need five weeks of training in the summer before they get put in classrooms.
  2. Experience. Why would anyone think that experience matters for educators? I’m about to enter my 14th year of teaching–and I just keep getting dumber and worse at my job. It’s so weird. All the research I’ve done over the years…all the things I’ve learned from watching how different students respond to different material and instructional methods….all the experiences I’ve had teaching students in every high school grade and at every level–from those with special needs to those in Advanced Placement courses…all the things I’ve learned from my colleagues…all the professional development and graduate-level coursework I’ve completed since I got my Bachelor’s degree: it really doesn’t matter.  In fact, my wish for my son, who’s four, is that he has only first-year teachers who only have five weeks of training for his entire public-school experience. Because teachers like that are “great” and “enthusiastic,” says education expert David Boies. He knows this because he invites such teachers to a barbecue at his house every summer. If one eats hot dogs Excellently, one obviously teaches Excellently, too.
  3. Commitment to the profession. I’m thinking a two-year commitment to teaching sounds reasonable. Any more than that is just bad news. After all, smart people should have careers in law and finance.
  4. School nurses in our buildings. They’re a big waste. BYOBand-Aid and shut up.
  5. Play time for students in our classes. No time for that nonsense!
  6. Literature and creative, personal writing. Because, literature and creative, personal writing involve feelings and emotions–you know, those things that some people think make us human. But news flash, kids: “people don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.” Excellent people read informational texts. Period.
  7. Libraries and librarians. A) see # 6–screw literature, and B) libraries are crusty and old. We need testing centers instead.
  8. Autonomy. That’s just a weird word. It sounds like a robot…or a sickness. I know I don’t want it.
  9. Guidance counselors in every building. “Guidance.” LOL. Get a GPS.
  10. Supplies provided by the district. Teachers who are good will buy supplies with their own money. Teachers who suck will not. And who even needs books, pencils, and other outdated school supplies anymore? (Exception: tape. It is evidently very useful for out-of-control children.)
  11. Adequate and equitable funding for schools. Because funding is irrelevant and money doesn’t matter.
  12. Comprehensive special-education programs. Students with special needs just need to take more standardized tests. Obviously!
  13. White suburban moms who think their kids are brilliant. Please.
  14. More diversity in the profession. Because Brown v. Board of Education was 60 years ago and we’re doing just fine now.
  15. Excuses. Pathetic people make excuses. Kids are people. So kids who make excuses are pathetic. You forgot your belt today, small kindergartener? Eat lunch standing up for 40 minutes. Your shirt is untucked? Here, wear this demerit card around your neck. Your parents are getting divorced? A family member died?  Deal with it after testing season. (Without speaking, fidgeting, or getting out of line, of course.)
  16. Raggedy ass schoolsI know a raggedy ass school when I see one, and raggedy is gross.
  17. Unions and the roaches that are in charge of them. Because they suck, too.
  18. Pensions. Yes, we’ve been forced to contribute hundreds of dollars from each paycheck into the pension fund–but we don’t mind if politicians don’t make the contributions that they’re required by law to make. And by all means: use the money we’ve contributed to fund casinos that close after two years and benefit your friends who manage hedge funds. We don’t care! Most of us are independently wealthy anyway.
  19. Due process. I really hate it, and I don’t want protection from capricious firing. Please–take it away so I can do my job better.

What we DO need:

  1. A natural disaster. Immediately. Why? Because it’s the quickest way to get rid of those annoying due process rights that nobody wants or needs. Katrina was “the best thing that happened to the school system” in New Orleans because it helped the district fire all its tenured teachers and replace them with new, better ones.  Then in 2013 Hurricane David Welch came along and caused a sharknado in Los Angeles–and poof: teacher tenure disappeared soon after. And guess what! There was a sharknado in NYC sharknado last month (the hurricane that caused it wasn’t named, so we’ll just call it Hurricane Campbell ), and it looks like New York could be the next place to free teachers and students from the rusty chains of tenure. So if you think teachers suck, grab a chainsaw and pray for some shark-filled waterspouts in your city. Pray hard. The children will thank you.
  2. More tests. Teachers are unequipped to design assessments to measure our students’ progress, so we need corporations like Pearson to create tests that will help us in this regard. It’s been proven that administering standardized tests is the best way to help students in struggling schools. It’s especially helpful to design tests and set cut scores so that only 31% of kids pass–because then you can sue all their teachers for sucking so bad, close their raggedy ass schools, and open…
  3. more charter schools! They have better teachers who can help kids learn to take tests better.  And best of all, they usually don’t serve the students who keep other other kids from being Excellent.
  4. Test prep materials. Because “test prep is key to success!
  5. Temps to score those standardized tests. People who respond to Craigslist posts and and Kelly temps are perfect. Especially since teachers don’t want to see the tests–or talk about them. It’s better to let other people–preferably non-educators–score them. Robo-grading is even better. We trust the whole process.
  6. A script. Just give us one and let us read from it. Everyone knows that teachers are stupid, so it’s best to just tell us all what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. Tell us what to write on the board, too. Basically, the less say we have over what goes on in our classrooms, the better.
  7. More non-educators telling us how to teach. For obvious reasons.
  8. Merit pay. Because forcing teachers to compete against each other instead of collaborating–and encouraging them to only want to teach good test-takers–works!!
  9. Technology. The kind that teaches students all by itself. Preferably while they sit in cubicles. Lots of it. Because it makes kids smarter!
  10. Bigger classes. Education experts Arne Duncan, Michael Bloomberg, and Bill Gates know that the best way to boost Achievement is to throw as many kids as possible into one class. This practice makes Excellent Educators Even More Excellent.
  11. Evaluations that are tied to test scores. Because this is the best way to determine who’s good and who sucks.
  12. Villages. No, not the kind it takes to raise children. I mean actual villages. For teachers to live in. Just for a couple years until they move on to their real careers.

There it is: my incomplete list.

We all know that teacher voice has been increasingly silenced in recent years, so I hope this post clears up some confusion about What Teachers Need In Order To Be Excellent. After all, if teachers are Excellent, so are their test-takers students!

If you’re an Excellent teacher, I hope you continue being Excellent until you get too old and experienced to be Excellent.  Then I hope you get replaced by someone who is younger and more Excellent than you are.

If you suck, I hope you jam the faculty room copier every time you try to run something off.

Have an Excellent year!

http://img2.timeinc.net/ew/i/2014/07/14/WTW-Sharknado-2.jpg

Sharknadoes facilitate Excellence! Image from http://img2.timeinc.net/ew/i/2014/07/14/WTW-Sharknado-2.jpg

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “How To Have An Excellent School Year

  1. booklady

    It hurts to read this wonderfully composed piece. Best wishes for a gratifying school year with your students despite the realities of education nowadays.

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