Monday, May 28, 2007
posted by Q6 at 9:34 PM
Though many at my school site had no idea, I've spent the last few months looking around for other venues of employment. I'd like to think that with eight years of administrative experience under my belt (six of them at a high-end, overactive high school) I'd be something of a commodity. (I can feel my head getting big.) It may actually be my downfall as well: with this many years, I may just be too expensive. I also heard that other districts have been having trouble hiring from the outside (not that the "inbreeding" route of promoting from within has been doing them any better).

Long story short, I've decided to stay here in my current district and assignment. I'll have to put up with an overburdened schedule, undisciplined children, and teachers and administrators with the Captain Kirk, "I-don't-care-if-it-violates-the-laws-of-time-and-space-just-do-it-and-do-it-now" attitude. I get to stay where parents really appreciate me, though, and my fiancee is here. So I'll stick around at least one more year.

* Not the best of the Muppet films, but one I enjoyed.

Saturday, May 26, 2007
posted by Q6 at 10:00 PM
I'm working on a lengthy post about AP tests, now that they're over. They sucked up nearly four weeks of my life, and I have a few stories to tell. I hope to get it posted sometime before the long Memorial Day weekend ends.

In the meantime, don't just think about the Veterans of wars past--there are plenty of soldiers--some who aren't even overseas yet--that we'll be mourning before this whole thing is over. Me, I think Memorial Day would be the perfect time to decide to bring them all home. (Of course, why would the guy listen to me? I sure as hell didn't vote for him . . . )

posted by Q6 at 9:42 PM
Our School Site Council has long been a rubber-stamp group, although its original purpose was to be the cornerstone of shared decision making on our campus. (Anyone who works at a public high school--especially one in a high-income area--knows that shared decision making is when the administration makes a decision and then shares it with everyone else.) Last week I got a personal education in just why we don't let the SSC make decisions.

I was asked to submit a revised, comprehensive attendance policy for our school. This one would use the full capabilities of the database system, it would address the rising attence problems (we've gone from 96% to 93%, God help us all), and it would reduce the bureaucratic paperwork. What it would also do is put some of the actual classroom management tasks back in the hands of the teachers where it belongs. Some teachers don't have attendance problems in their classes; other have crack systems for keeping track of absences and tardies, but very few actually take action when a student ditches class. Both preventative and reactive measures should exist in the classroom long before anyone gets sent to my office--and if the School Site Council is going to ask me for revisions to the process, I'm damn well gonna put that back in. Underlined.

So the SSC takes my recommendations and they...make some alterations. Long story short, they leave in all the administrative involvement and conveniently delete the teacher-action component. I refused to even attend the following meeting, and I told one member of the group (in private) how pissed I was that the SSC--made up primarily of teachers--saw fit to remove their burden and keep it all in my court. (In a strange twist of I-don't-see-that-very-often, the principal agreed with me wholeheartedly.)

We have students with terminal attendance problems that are still passing classes. The same teachers who pass these students maintain, in other settings, that we're not running a correspondence school. We are, however, and it makes me wonder why we even CARE about the attendance policies at our school. Attendance is a basic facet of classroom management. More and more of our classrooms should reflect that, and more and more of our teachers should get used to it.

Sunday, May 13, 2007
posted by Q6 at 10:17 PM
One of the things that's sitting on my desk waiting for the AP Tests to end is the Attendance referrals: students who have been missing too much school.

"Too much" absence, I've found, is a subjective issue. The school has guidelines for attendance, with regard to tardies and both excused and unexcused absences; the District Attorney's office (which has waited a good ten years to finally get involved) believes that only unexcused absences count, and they won't deal with the 11th and 12th graders. I could go into why all of this makes sense, but the Internet isn't large enough for the explanation. Suffice to say that yes, I understand why the DA has this view, and I'm fine with that.

Here's what DOESN'T make sense: many of the students with excessive absences (excused and otherwise) are still getting perfectly decent--if not above average--grades. It would seem that the teachers themselves have their own set of criteria for attendance. In short, they have no problem having their classes treated as correspondence courses. I understand that the web is a handy tool for education, but I think there comes a point where an empty seat should mean something. I've been saying this for a while now, but few people seem to be listening. Are we trying to teach students that attendance and punctuality are important, or are we training an entire generation of future telecommuters? Has attendance stopped being a part of classroom management, or are grades now commensurate with bandwidth? It seems to me that if we really wanted to make attendance an issue, those who are too frequently absent would have report cards that suck. Otherwise, we should scrap the attendance policy altogether and install another T1 line.

Maybe we should webcast the graduation.

posted by Q6 at 10:14 PM
Sorry I've been away for so long. It's AP Testing season, and this year's tests came on the heels of an 800 student SAT Test (which I'm also in charge of). The APs are a daunting task, one of many things I inherited not because of my job description, but simply because I seem to know what I'm doing. I'll have several blog posts about the APs (some of which I've already got planned, some that will undoubtedly come up in the next two weeks), and I'll try to get those up in short order.