I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

16 October 2010

Despite it being a four day week, this one felt long.  Mostly it was the heat, I think.  Everyone is a little grumpier and stinkier, but being forty days in there's more to get done before we turn to popsicles and water experimentation.

We also had a giant walkthrough, which I guess had positive feedback.  It was still kind of useless, though.  There were a lot of high school administrators walking around.  They were in my room for twenty minutes; it was a twenty-minute whole class instruction period where we hit a bunch of reading standards quickly for review and not for mastery.  I can't imagine how you understand this if your mindset is high school, where you would have a lesson plan and formal instruction/guided practice/independent practice stuff going on.

It also explains why all three of them had to get up and see what I was drawing on the kids' hands with dry-erase markers while the Resident led a phonics chant.  I mean, I guess in high school you might draw a skull and crossbones (designating detention) or something.

(Dry-erase pictures: more loved and easier to manage than stickers.)

Even staying for twenty minutes - which is a lot better than wall-walking, for sure - there is so much you just can't know.  For instance, when they came in I was drawing a letter person using letters the class suggested.  I was picking sticks to call on kids.  My sticks are loaded: if I think we had better call on you more often, you have extra sticks.  But you don't know this unless I tell you.  And the kids were all super on-task.  I mean, in terms of participation, engagement and behavior they were unbelievably on target.  (Really.  At the end of the day the Resident and I speculated that Thursday would be hard because they used up so much positive energy on Wednesday.)  That suggests we have decent procedures and protocols to guide behavior toward learning, but they were largely invisible (especially, again, if your mindset is high school.  The way I heard it, high school students can monitor their own need for pee breaks and whatnot).

Anyway, there were no interesting questions or pushing feedback that applied to anything happening in Kindergarten, so from my perspective it was kind of useless.

They gave us all their guiding question stuff and problem statements, and they say they are focusing on instructional leadership as opposed to nostalgia/witch-hunting.  The whole problem statement+consultant bearing Power Point leads to my problem statement with the Redesign.

If all of these highly-paid EDs, Associate and Assistant Superintendents are "instructional leaders" (debatable anyway), who's doing macroanalysis?  We had eight Assistant Superintendents and a host of other District people wandering about, all focused on a tiny problem statement about one school.  This is the gist of the redesign: the Central Office is Watching You.  Assuming best intentions, we're all going to go laser-like on little school site problems and save the world.  (Thinking like your average SFUSD peon, we're stuck in a giant game of Pass the Buck in which teachers will always lose.)

But someone has got to look at the big picture.  We have a District-wide problem educating the kids who live at Sunnydale.  Just as you can't offset the entirety of that problem to institutional racism, you can't say that fixing classroom practice issues will fix everything.

The problem is bigger.  Many Sunnydale families don't trust us, which makes it hard to collaborate with them.  Many students living there have PTSD or poverty-related health problems: we need to focus on their social-emotional and physical needs, too.  And critically, if you live at Sunnydale the chances that you attend a drastically under-resourced school is very high.  This is a case where we haven't tried money, and it would make a difference.

Of course, if no one is doing macroanalysis, you can ignore the whole child, ignore District complicity in creating the current relationship we have with Sunnydale families, and holler righteously that "it's not about the money".  All these newborn instructional leaders can put the blame where it tends to end up: on the teachers.

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