Ask The Principal

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A teacher's work is never done....

The last time I was in the classroom as a teacher I was newly married and my bride was just finished working as a classroom aide for my mom who was a teacher at a Christian school. She was the bulletin board princess and she gave my classroom some real pizzazz. It's different now with 5 children and her homeschool responsibilities. I'm left to do more of that myself.

In a lot of ways I'm like a new teacher. All the experienced teachers have the routine down and work as a well oiled machine with the curriculum, hand-outs, routines, procedures. I've found myself putting in 60 hour weeks just to stay up. I'm buying bins and files and dividers at K-mart to get my system in place and running. It takes too long to go through the requisition, purchase order, plead with the principal for the money, and 1 month wait to get the supplies.

I have also seen the best an the worst of classrooms and I am determined to mimick the former and shun the latter. Sometimes perfectionism is really hard.

I have the oldest and worst classroom furniture because any good stuff was "traded" by some unknown teacher elsewhere in the building that, say, noticed the desk chair in my room was better so over the summer traded up and I got the old one, etc.

My computers all had hard-drive crashes and it took 2 weeks before I was online. I just got my grade program installed last Wednesday so I was going to enter 3 weeks worth of student data this weekend into the program. I could have installed it myself, but didn't have the necessary priviledges and had to wait for the availability of a district tech. Still, the time saved by doing things on the computer is worth the wait over the old gradebook method. The district server is up for maintenance this weekend though and no one is allowed to log on until 8am Monday morning.

I have my lists of English Language Learners, my Special Education students, my students with health issues (asthma..some can have their inhalers on their persons, others in the health office, and I have to know which is which).

I have IEP meetings (Individual Learning Plans) for students needing accommodations or modifications (there is a difference between an accommodation and a modification and I have to make sure I am accommodating instead of modifying, or vice versa).

I am also "learning" how to communicate with my EL (English Learner) students since our school population is growing with students south of the border. I am taking a class for experienced teachers who haven't gone through the latest training on how to "effectively" teach the EL students in a regular classroom. I have spent 6 days of training so far to learn a whole bunch of industry related vocabulary, to talk slowly and deliberately (but NOT more loudly) and with exaggerated body language to make the EL kids more at home. I joked with somebody at yesterday's (yes, Saturday) class that it's taken 6 days of training in the summer and on weekends to have us act like American tourists in a foreign land trying to communicate. Interestingly, the methods taught are what any good, intelligent teacher would already be using to help these kids transition into the English speaking American classroom. Nevertheless the state needs to know I have been trained in their latest methodology, and I need the state's notation on my license that says I have the training.

So I have all my meetings, my trainings, my conferences, back to school night, and a myriad of issues great and small for my 33 to 37 kids (depending on the period). I'm worn out.

What's funny (not funny "HA HA") is that my experience is being repeated thousands of times across the country as the school year starts. I at least have the experience to manage my classroom well and diffuse the "situations" between students well before they become serious issues. Many new teachers have already been thinking they have made a mistake being in the classroom. Statistically half of the new teachers that enter public education will have left the profession within 5 years.

All in all it has been a really good experience for me. Especially now that I am homeschooling my kids. It further strengthens my convictions about homeschooling. All of the methodologies that need to be employed to meet the needs of all the students (gifted, retarded, EL, other-health impaired, average, auditory, visual, kinesthetic, Attention deficit, multi-cultural, motivated, unmotivated, affluent, neglected, impoverished, loud, quiet, traumatized, victimized, loved, unloved, etc.) will inevitably leave some children behind. All methodologies need to be incorporated, but not all work for all kids, and rarely can more than one methodology be used at the same time. That means that for many kids, their learning styles are being addressed only a few minutes out of each hour.

I mentioned this multitude of necessary methodologies conundrum to my table group yesterday as we were discussing methods for assisting EL students. You cannot effectively reach all of the students all of the time. Not nearly as effectively as in the home school environment. They all agreed. They all were frustrated at the enormity of the task to reach such a diversity of students in the classroom. All felt as if they wished they could do more, but do not have the time or stamina to do it all.

The bottom line is, for me, for anyone, is this: can even the best trained and talented public school teacher provide a better education for children in a public classroom as what the loving family can provide for their own children at home? I maintain that the public school system will generally come short for the children in it. Even when there are good and talented teachers in it like me :-)

I wouldn't even have my own children in my classroom with me as the teacher because I know I would be divided in providing instruction different ways to so many students. My kids would come up short, as would everybody else's. No, my kids will be at home where their individual learning styles will be accommodated, and learning customized as only a mother or father could do, in order to train them in the best manner possible. A learning experience so rich, so wonderful, so focused, so intimate, that it makes even the best public education seem outright pathetic.

There is no way the public school teacher can surpass the educational opportunity provided in the loving and disciplined homeschool.

That's not just an opinion, it's a fact.


  • Boy I get in trouble when I share just my opinions on the matter. I can't imagine what would happen if it were said as "fact".

    By Blogger Spunky, at Sunday, September 17, 2006 9:24:00 PM  

  • Facts annoy relativists, who actually prefer opinions because they can put your thoughts into the category of "I like chocolate rather than vanilla, who are you to tell me that vanilla is better?". Granted, there are exceptions, but as a rule, the data is hard to escape from. It's easy to argue chocolate vs. vanilla because that argument exists in a subjective world. People who rely on subjective arguments get really cranky when one starts arguing objectively.

    I still like your opinions though Spunky. :-)


    By Blogger The Principal, at Monday, September 18, 2006 11:59:00 AM  

  • Hi there. I came here from a gracious home. I am in the UK and am considering my sons future education.

    3 questions.
    1- Do you think anybody can homeschool?

    2- I only have one child at present and am from a small church (thinking about interaction with other children) Would you still homeschool if that was your situation?

    3- Do you have a 'class room' at home?

    By Blogger Susanna, at Tuesday, September 19, 2006 5:46:00 AM  

  • Hi Susanna,

    You raise some good questions. BTW, I did my "teaching practise" in the UK and I love your country.

    1. Loaded. No not everybody, but not for reasons relating to the sort of training given in colleges and/or universities. No one would hire me now as a public educator if I paraded my knowledge of the "latest methodologies" that I learned (learnt :-) in the late 80's. Many of those methods are now considered destructive by mainstream public education, yet it was at that time that many here in the US were under serious persecution for homeschooling because they could not or would not train their children at home the same way the state would.

    2. Socialization is really one of the main reasons I homeschool...that is, to avoid socialization in the public school setting. In my view, negative "socialization" can even occur in poorly supervised homeschool-mom get-togethers and even Sunday School classrooms.

    3. Our 'formal' dining room is a library w/wall to wall shelves of books that my wife and I have collected since our early teen years, consolodated when we married, and added to since. We have a dining room table w/chairs for the kids and a comfortable office chair for my precious wife, who has the youngest in a 'snuggly' and the toddler nearby in a 'pack-n-play'. We're at a challenging stage of the homeschool, but neither of us would have it any other way.


    By Blogger The Principal, at Tuesday, September 19, 2006 12:12:00 PM  

  • This was an interesting read! I too am a public school teacher. I'm on my fourth year...and I'll admit last year was almost it for me! This year I'm having a much better year.

    One other thing we have in common is I'm a huge fan of homeschooling. I cannot homeschool my children. (I was a single mother for the last seven and a half years and have only recently married. I needed some way to support my two children.) I think homeschooling is always the best option for loving/caring parents who are willing to educate their children.

    I'm also glad there are people like me (and you) in schools...because there are always those kids who do not have loving parents (and do not know a loving Christ) and I think we can make a big difference in their lives.

    Given a chance to homeschool (and it may still come one day) I would jump at it. But I'm glad I'm a teacher as a second choice!

    Even if it is tough.

    By Blogger Bethany, at Tuesday, September 19, 2006 6:05:00 PM  

  • Hey...just out of curiosity, I'm wondering if you are in Mississippi? I live in Gulfport and I saw where you took your son on a trip to Vicksburg... :D

    By Blogger Bethany, at Tuesday, September 19, 2006 6:15:00 PM  

  • Hi Bethany,

    I know that we are not always able to do what we want to do, but I know that God is sovereign and that He has us exactly where He wants us in spite of our own "best intentions" :-).. God is gracious and gives us the grace we need to live our lives according to His commands. I'll pray that you will have the opportunity to homeschool as you desire and that God give you and your husband the wisdom and insight to assist your children as they wade through public education.

    I'll say I'm in the lower 48, but "y'all" isn't generally in my vocabulary (though today in class we were reading an excerpt from "Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry" and I got to "practice" a little of the southern dialect :-)

    My son and I enjoyed Jackson and especially a visit to First Presbyterian. What a great church!


    By Blogger The Principal, at Tuesday, September 19, 2006 7:32:00 PM  

  • Thank you for your answers. I agree with the neagtive socialisation......we get some pretty mixed up children in our Sunday School. but they need the gospel! To be honest I was previously a big sceptical about homeschooling and am aware that there is a very 'nice' primary school over the road. I need to think and pray (and trust that I can have a bigger home if I homeschool or else it will have to take place in the main room! :)

    I believe God leads us individually and what is right for one will not be for another (not talking about major biblcial issues here!), but I am increasingly convinced that parents in the UK need to sit up and take notice of what is happening.

    Where did you teach over here?

    By Blogger Susanna, at Wednesday, September 20, 2006 1:39:00 PM  

  • Down south in Basingstoke, Hampshire. The exchange was through King Alfred's College, now University of Winchester. Loved listening to the choir practise at Winchester Cathedral and then having tea at the Wessex. Fond memories indeed! I'd love to go back. The history there is fantastic!

    By Blogger The Principal, at Wednesday, September 20, 2006 11:23:00 PM  

  • Hi Teach!
    Was given your blog by your dad awhile ago, only now pulled it up. Sorry to hear that you are considering leaving the public school arena (an apt description for all that goes on there). As a previous teacher and now Christian consultant (school psychologist) to homeschoolers, I strongly agree that home school is becoming the only reasonable atlernative for Christian parents. But for mor and more Christian teachers or administrators to abandon that areana to anti-Christian domination could be a mistake. Difficult decision.
    Yes, to UK Susanna, home school can be done by any parent regardless of their educational background but who loves their children, can afford (with one parent mainly providing the income) and is willing to daily invest the energy for 2-3 hours in focused teaching. Few non-public school people are aware of how much time is wasted in school, causing boredom as well as teaching the politically correct and unimportant or just biased/false information that is required to be taught. Living in North Carolina, there are about 60,000 homeschoolers here which represents only about 5% of the school age population. But the movement is growing rapidly especially among Christian familes. There are many websites that would be helpful to Christians considering opting out. One recommendation easily accessed from the UK is and specifically for how to get started.
    We're praying for you Bill!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sunday, September 24, 2006 9:54:00 AM  

  • Hello "Anonymous". Been a long time. Yes I hear from many about leaving the public arena. It's because everyone sees how powerful a venue public education is for influencing our nation...whether for good or for evil. I'll happily stay as long as it appears that God wants me here. After that my desire in ministry would be to further help Christian families to withdraw their children from the public schools.

    Thank you for those links. Drop me an email some time I'd love to catch up!


    By Blogger The Principal, at Sunday, September 24, 2006 12:32:00 PM  

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