During an interview last night on WHNT, the Superintendent finally let teachers teach, temporarily at least. Yep, WHNT, the first mainstream news outlet to address the issues with computer usage in the district, got Dr. Wardynski on the record saying that teachers were allowed to use the resources available to them to meet the needs of their students. I’d be excited if we weren’t a month into the school year already.
Here’s the story if you haven’t seen it already.
Paper Allowed In Classrooms Again
When asked about teachers being told that they cannot use paper in the classroom, Dr. Wardynski responded:
First of all, I’m telling you that never happened. But even if it did, they’re not obeying cause I see plenty of worksheets. And I see plenty of printing and when I see it, I don’t say a word, so wouldn’t you think if I’d given an order like that and I see it going out I’d say something about it? My main comment is, do what it takes to navigate the distance from where we were to where we need to be. Use the resources you need to do and if that involves using something from last year, do it.
Before we move on, lets pause and consider the superintendent’s terminology here for a moment. “They’re not obeying . . . .” That’s an interesting choice of words, isn’t it? Sounds an awful lot like a parent whining about a disobedient child, doesn’t it. (And this from the man who made a point of calling out teachers for whining back in February.)
I’m sorry, sir, but we’re not in the Army, and neither are you, anymore. Please learn how to speak and address adults. When you do, then we can talk.
Setting that aside for a moment, this interview was broadcast at 10:00pm last night (2200 for the Superintendent). If you look closely at the window in Dr. Wardynski’s office, you can see that it appears to still be daylight outside when the interview was being recorded.
Betcha can’t guess what happened around 1200 yesterday afternoon?
Teachers Get Permission To Use Books Hours Before Interview Airs
If you guessed, “Teachers were told for the first time that they could use actual, real textbooks in their classrooms to teach their students and meet their educational needs,” well, congrats. You’ve won the prize.
For the first time since the start of school three and a half weeks earlier, the district is officially allowing teachers to distribute and use textbooks (which have only recently arrived in many schools) in their classrooms to meet the needs of our students.
So much for making every day count and making sure that students progress at their own pace. It’s kinda difficult to do that when the network goes down every 15 minutes and there are no books allowed in the classroom. And it doesn’t help that the superintendent is still watching which classrooms are logged on and which aren’t.
Is Big Brother Watching?
In reference to the “heat mapping” of classrooms Jerry Hayes ask with a I-know-this-is-a-stupid-question-but-I’ve-got-to-ask-anyway smile if this was “Big Brother watching?” Dr. Wardynski had this to say:
Well, this a world of technology. In order to manage a system like that, you’ve got to be able to respond to who needs help and this is our work place, and if you’re in the work place and you’re trying to use the technology, it would be pretty hard for us to help you what antennae, what classroom and that sort of information so this is part of your work place. This is part of the work place at the Arsenal. This is part of the workplace at Cisco, any big firm that’s got a wireless system, this is the way it’s managed.
So the answer to the question that he was asked is yes. Despite the jocular approach Mr. Hayes chose to take in asking, the answer is yes, Big Brother is watching. Big Brother was watching before. Big Brother is watching still.
But teachers should feel free to use those old-fashioned, ineffective, irrelevant, absurd, ludicrous, stone-aged textbooks if they want. Of course there will be no repercussions from the superintendent whose orders are always followed . . .
Risking It All To Teach
He’s right about being “disobeyed.” Thankfully many of our adaptable teachers had gone ahead and found ways to make the first month of school productive.
They were willing to risk reprimand (which many received during the first few weeks for not being “on-line” enough). They were willing to risk their jobs and their families’ well-being to ensure that the first month of school wasn’t lost.
If you want to see a true hero today, go visit your child’s classroom. The people you see in there are underpaid, over worked, stressed, worried, fearful, beaten down, disappointed, and discouraged. Many of their peers and friends have quit. Many more are looking for ways that they can. And yet despite that, despite being called “ankle-biters” by their boss, they teach on.
And do you know why they teach? It isn’t for the money: they haven’t had a raise in years, and the Superintendent definitively stated on September 4th that he would not support reinstating the cost of living raise (despite the fact that he received a bonus of $9,220.00 last year and is eligible for another $10,000 bonus this year). It isn’t for the time off: their summer vacations were constantly interrupted this year so that they could improve their teaching skills and for the Pearson “training” fiasco.
They teach because they love kids. They teach because they believe that education improves everyone’s lives. They teach because they can.
For this, every parent in the district should stand up and cheer for our teachers. It’s past time we did that for them anyway. We should let teachers teach.
Persistent Questions: Why Are Teachers Afraid?
I am, by the way, grateful to WHNT for being the first of our local media to pick up on the story that everything might not be perfect in the “New Frontier” as the district’s cheerleaders like to call this shift. However, one central question kept flashing in my mind’s eye during the interview with the superintendent in which Mr. Hayes had to hold up a single, anonymous letter from one teacher brave enough to raise issues and questions.
Why is it okay that the superintendent has created an environment in our schools where teachers are afraid to raise questions about the pedagogical methods being forced upon their classrooms?
Why, in other words, were teachers scared to speak on the record about the educational environment of our schools? Could it be that Dr. Wardynski doesn’t actually care that much about technology in the classrooms? Could it be that the primary goal of all the inept changes being forced on our teachers this year is actually intended to simply get teachers to quit?
When you consider that a plan that even the superintendent claims should take twice as long, “We’re doing the work of six months in three,” it’s difficult to come up a good justification for making such a shift in such a hurry, isn’t it?
That story, frankly, is far more worrisome than nearly anything else discussed in this news story.
But that question wasn’t asked.