Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer Vacation?

There are those who envy teachers their long summer "vacation." I am using mine to
  • Apply for jobs
  • Finish the last course for my credential, including a research paper
  • Attend two different summer institutes, one on teaching science and one on teaching math
  • Read many books and journals to provide more background for teaching science and math, particularly historical information and pedagogical strategies
  • Read a couple of novels
  • Swim
  • Share the cooking with my husband, who did ALL the cooking last spring!
On my NSTA chemistry list, there has been a discussion about how to tackle those envious acquaintances. One person (K Gorski) wrote this:
Before you can address the "summers off" thing, people have to understand the commitment during the school year. When I served as one of the '07-'08 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellows in DC, we were asked by our supervisors (program directors and managers of many of the federal agencies) to give a presentation that was a "shop floor perspective." Some of my colleagues came up with an analogy that was brilliant - we had virtually every individual with their jaws dropped, and saying omg I never thought about it like that.... we have continued to use it, with the appropriate tweak for the audience - and it seems to be successful.

We told them:
  • Imagine that it is Monday, and you have 6 meetings, back to back. You are organizing and leading each meeting and must prepare the visuals and handouts. Assume you'll have about 30 people in each one.
    • If they say you teach multiple sections of the same class; note that it's really a different meeting because they have a slightly different focus and you need to prepare for that focus.
  • On Tuesday, it's the same thing: 6 different meetings, back to back and you are in charge. Same for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
  • At each meeting, the participants will turn in their proposals/plans/what have you that you must read, review, and comment on before the next day.
  • During your lunch hour (and if you are lucky enough to have a "free" period), you use that time to answer voice mail,email, and other office memos that have come in.
  • Note that you are expected to keep up with current research in your field (so you can prepare for those meetings).
  • And that you are on several other committees for which you must attend meetings.
We asked them if they could do all this in a 9-5 workday, and not take work home with them, or work on the weekend.  I think we added something about differentiation and special needs. It was very powerful.

As you can see, we did not even broach much of the detail - and it still left our audience amazed at what we do. We never got antagonistic, we never whined or complained, we just said - here's the data in your terms.

There's a great video "What Teachers Make" which should be taken out and shown at least once a year - for yourself if no one else. 

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