Monday, February 8, 2016

Instructional Triage

The definition of triage is defined by is as follows:  

1. The process of sorting victims, as a battle or disaster, to determine medical priority in order to increase the number of survivors.
2. The determination of priorities for action.

I am doing Instructional Triage.  In this disaster of Common Core, I have resorted to sorting the victims in order to determine priority to increase the possibility of success for my students (survivors), all while attempting to mitigate the damage done to these innocent victims.

I am rewriting math tests so they are developmentally appropriate (phonically spelled names, font, type size, space for answers) and make sense to students who are not yet proficient readers.  I am sorting through the 180 lessons of math so that I can cut, condense, merge and retool the lessons to fit it all in (along with it making sense).  Even though there are 180 days, that does not mean I can teach 180 hour+ long lessons of math to 6 year olds.  I am angry that I am asked to do what is so wrong for my kids and I am sad that I have no choice.  I am hurt that they try so hard to do what I ask of them, only to have them look at me with such innocent eyes and say "Why?  Why is this so hard (confusing, stupid, moronic) Teacher?  Why?"

I am buying books to meet the concepts of the NYS Domains so that kids can have real literature to listen to, rather than my disembodied voice from behind the computer reading the text while they stare at the screen.  I want them to associate books with stories, not weird images on a screen that they have to stare at.  I want them to interact with the books after I have read them, pretending to read them, sharing the stories and acting them out.

I am sneaking in Author studies and crafts quietly with my door closed so that we can laugh and work on fine motor skills.  I am crying silently inside as I have to hide what we do so that it looks like we are meeting our "proscribed minutes" instead of dancing and singing because that's what we need to do between hours of sitting.  I am running the PE movie in the background with the sound off while we walk outside or practice a little yoga.

I had to skip Chinese New Year this year.  First time ever.  It's not in the curriculum and there is no time.  I have to skip President's Day.  Too many math lessons to catch up on.  I have to condense Valentine's to one-half day.  Reading coaches are coming in for more "coaching" and we need to be ready.  I have 7 more kids to tests that I couldn't get to last week because my new ipad kept disconnecting from the Internet.

I am doing instructional triage.

I am entering data for tests that were stupid and pointless and told me nothing about my students.  I am caught between wanting my little ones to score well for both their sakes and mine, and exposing these flawed instruments for what they are.  If the kids look good on paper, I keep my job.  If not, well, I am ineffective or developing.

I am entering notes for meetings I barely remember because we are forced to meet when we really need to be planning or prepping for students.

I am doing educational triage.

How did this happen?  How did we get here?  When did childhood become a race rather than a journey?  Why aren't parents fighting back harder?  Why aren't we demanding some sanity in our children's lives?  Why aren't we protecting the teachers who love the kids?  When will our society realize that we've been tricked by a snake oil salesman?  When all our kids are sitting behind screens?  When social skills  have become non-existent?  When children are being medicated for anxiety along with ADD?  When?

If I sound frustrated, I am.  I sometimes wish I didn't care so much.  I wish my heart didn't ache over this.  I wish I wasn't trying to figure out how to translate my teaching skills into something else.  I wish I hadn't cried when I got home.

I hope my little ones can't sense my angst and my frustration.  I hope this goes away sooner rather than later so they aren't totally damaged by this.  I look at those sweet kids and wish with all my heart that some sanity returns before it is too late.

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