Today probably isn't the best day for a blog post but it isn't like me to hold back. It wasn't a bad day, just a bad attitude day, at least for me. It seemed over and over I was struck with the absurdities of school in general, the ridiculousness of what goes on there, and the wastefulness of time and resources in the name of EDUCATION.
Part of the frustration comes from being in a new position, no doubt. I feel like a fish out of water, zigzagging back and forth, here and there. I knew that would be a reality of this new job, and I accept the realities and consequences of that. However, I don't feel like I am really helping any kids, doing anything monumental for them, in any of the "inclusion" hours I have.
For the most part, the teachers have been very welcoming, offering to include me in any or all parts of their classes. But there again, I feel inadequate. What do **I** know about civics or economics that the regular classroom teacher doesn't know better? I honestly haven't even looked at the state requirements for these classes, and even if I had, I cannot be an expert in all of them, knowing exactly what is required, where to find it, and how to teach it.
Then there's my own 8th grade prealgebra class. The kids in there are all over the place skill wise, but all of them are low, very low. Like some cannot even manage to copy a problem off the board or out of the book, low... They are nice kids, sweet kids, and most of them are really trying hard to please me, to do what is asked of them. But we are struggling greatly to find a starting point to our learning. I am expected to drag them all to the point they will be ready for algebra in high school next year, somehow. I feel like I am driving the Indy 500 in a car from 1950 that has never had its oil changed or even air put in its tires in all these years, but just gets driven and driven, hoping to make it to its final destination somehow safely. And now, I am expected to win this race with it somehow.
I think if somehow we could slow down, find a logical starting point, a place where they are all comfortable, competent and confident, we could do great things together. Instead, we are floundering, try to make sense of things that make no sense.
Too many of these students have been in a self-contained special ed classroom their entire school career, and are now, tossed to the wind, taking regular classes, trying to keep their head above water. Their skills are low, their self-esteem levels are low, and their confidence is zilch. I feel badly that there is little I can do to rescue them.
So while these kids are floundering, sitting in regular ed classes all day, pretending to have a clue about what's going on, I am sitting in another classroom, in another building, doing zilcho most of the time.
I understand the importance of inclusion. I have long been an advocate for inclusion. But I think for some of these kids, that is no longer an option. They have spent too long in an isolated setting, and are ill-prepared to be out there in real classes. Wouldn't it make more sense to have me with them all day?
Inclusion is good on paper, for most kids, most of the time. But in today's educational world, where all kids must meet the same standards, expecting them to get there at the same pace as everyone else, is simply unreasonable.
Who is to blame? I don't know. Those people who sit in Lansing and Washington and points in between and think that all kids are GOING to make it through high school with these new expectations... That's where I want to start!
I am all for raising the bar, for challenging kids, for taking them as high as they can go. But reality check people. We are NOT all created equal, we are not all the same. Just as I will never be a Olympic gold medal gymnast, some of these kids are never going to make it through high school with the new requirements.
From my perspective, raising the bar for EVERYONE means lowering the bar for many in the long run. As we try to get more and more kids through a challenging curriculum, we are forced to either leave some behind, or lower the bar so they can all make it over. Either way it is a losing proposition for someone.