I haven't seen Waiting for Superplutocrats - I have this thing about controlling my blood pressure - but I understand that the lazy, rotten, nogoodnik public school teacher types sleep while their students fail to learn in this movie.
I don't actually know how that works. If I fell asleep in my classroom, two students would immediately dispatch themselves to run to the office to alert officialdom. Three more would make a child tower to get at the Magical Mysteries of the Top Shelves. The rest would tickle and/or suffocate me. I don't even have a teacher's desk to sit behind, brooding, while my students have snail races/give each other haircuts/become depressed in a miasma of union-loving child hate. My class can more or less leave me alone to do Guided Reading and/or assessment, but that's due to months of training (and is made much easier this year thanks to having a Resident). Moreover, part of the 'leave E. Rat alone' compact is that you will eventually get your turn with the teacher, and you don't want anyone to interrupt it.
This week was a bit difficult. In addition to some time at the vet, it ends up that part of aging is developing really miserable allergies to life itself. It was also a week featuring things I find difficult (paper management: field trip permission slips, forms for certain school programs, thank yous to mail) and anxiety-inducing (putting together technological items like incubators, making sure no one jumps in the pond on the field trip, eighty seven thousand little tasks that are in themselves exceptionally easy but become this Doomy Doom in my head).
Also, I had this at my home, waiting for perusal. And someone gave me a set of these.
So what I really wanted to do was spend hours lettering folders, permission slips, awards and similar for my students, taking breaks only to read my exhibition guide and to blow my nose, cough, sneeze and rub my eyes.
What I did instead was run the annual Read an Eggathon (we have an egg hunt, but with words in the eggs and stickers for prizes), get a snootful of pollen on our buddy picnic field trip (DUCKLINGS!), set up the incubator and leave my new fancy book in its overwrap.
The stars therefore granted me a Donors Choose of fine, fine construction paper - the kind that is smooth, crisp, bright and probably miserable for the planet - and twenty boxes of glitter crayons. Perhaps one day one of my Kindergartners will rate their own fine museum exhibition of couture, and I will attend as a guest of honor in a bespoke dress. THANKS TO THE GLITTER CRAYONS.
In other news, SFUSD indicates that - Oops! Sorry again! - the coming year is NOT the worst. The one after that could be even more dire! At this point, I am presuming that if the state passes a budget before August 15 I'll be laid off thanks to the late window. I'm also frightened by the increasing class sizes forecast for SFUSD (and thankful to the district for keeping them low as yet in K-3). I started teaching after class-size reduction; I have a hard time imagining 31 students. And the supports that made 31 more manageable (paraeducators, AM/PM Kinder with co-teaching) are gone, while the standards for students are much higher (and the school year even shorter).
Moreover, what with the financial crisis, every year more of my students are under stress. In the four years I've been at my school, every year student mobility goes up. I got a new student this week, for instance. Of my students who have moved away, most if not all of their moves were directly due to losing housing/relatives losing housing (often complicated by violence and family members' passing). This year I've held SSTs for seven students; about half my class is receiving some kind of school-provided social-emotional service. Those are services that we may not be able to afford.
So beyond the academic requirements, the empathy and care needed for a class of 31 at a high-needs school in an ill-funded environment is at the 'psychic vampire' level. It's hard to listen to education reform rhetoric about failing schools, failing teachers and "we already tried money" and believe they are anything other than self-assured, knowing liars who have enough time to read their Savage Beauty catalogues and enough money to send their own progeny to highly-supportive, exceptionally expensive private academies.