Saturday, August 22, 2009

Back to School


Our county's kids went back to school a couple of weeks ago, and the surrounding counties have slowly started back too.  Only Chatham (Savannah) waits until September to start.  I'm a retired teacher (and I've finally stopped having nightmares---the worse one was where I was teaching a class of third graders how to smoke and drink), many of my friends are teachers or are looking for teaching jobs.  Bless their hearts, I was once an enthusiastic teacher, ready to save the world one child at a time, the slogan of one of my principals.
I taught for 14 years, 1 in Georgia and 13 in California.  The one year of teaching Kindergarten in Augusta, GA is still one of my happiest teaching memories.  I taught in an school that was probably 95.% African-American (though they were still called Blacks then) and poverty was the norm not the exception.  But they were amazing kids, eager to learn, discipline wasn't a problem, the parents were caring and helpful.  I was sorry to leave, but we were moving home to California and I was looking forward to teaching there, it had to be more progressive and innovative than Georgia.
I had known we'd eventually go home to California so along with my major in Early Childhood Education I had done a minor in Spanish figuring that would help me get a job there, and it did.  My first teaching job in California was a Bilingual Second Grade class.  Most of the children was of Mexican descent, some newly arrived (illegal) with no English, some had been born in California of Mexican (illegal) parents who spoke English and some good old regular kids.  I had an Aide (Lidia) who was a native Spanish speaker and between us we taught the class. 
After a couple of years in Second Grade I had a class I liked so much that I moved up to Third Grade with them, and then the next year I shared them with my husband Mac who was teaching 4th grade and we both did a 3/4 combo.  It was great.
I enjoyed the kids I taught, but not how we were supposed to teach them.  When I taught in Georgia we turned in lesson plans each week that included lessons based on the  core curriculum we were supposed to be covering.  In California no one turned in lesson plans, you taught what and how you wanted.  When I was given my books for my first class they included Spelling Books but I was told I didn't have to teach Spelling if I didn't want to.  We didn't teach phonics, it was all Whole Language.  In 3rd and 4th grade you didn't have to teach Time's Tables because memorization was a no-no.
Needless to say we were "educating" a generation that would not be able to read, write or do math.  Towards the end of the 90's the pendulum swung the other way and all the old fashioned things we had done in Georgia when I first started teaching were now "in".
The teachers hated it, no more Fun Friday when they ran videos and played games all day.  No more teaching thematically and the curriculum be damned.
I thought it was great, with Godzilla sitting on my desk, the classe's bathroom passes in an alligator's mouth and a drawer full of chocolate I had been teaching all along.

2 comments:

  1. things, they are a-changing! ALWAYS!! Amazing the difference in those five years I taught way back when and the way I teach today. The new teachers are so much better prepared than I ever thought we were.

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  2. California doesn't prepare its teachers at all. College out there has no foreign language requirement, you can't major in Education you do it as a 5th year thing including your student teaching, Mac did his in less than a year and he had a BS in Public Administration. They don't require you to take a computer class. It's a real joke, I taught with teachers who should have never been allowed in a classroom at least Augusta "washed" some students out.

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What's Cooking?

The kitchen smells heavenly.  I made vegetable beef soup, think it's the first time I've done that.  It's for lunch tomorrow and...