Ask The Principal

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Good morning! Good morning!

I start my day at school doing my assigned yard duty by the bus drop-off. I help students make the trek in the right direction to the playground. During that 15 minute assignment I go out of my way to give these kids a "Good Morning!" and "how are you?". We're not that big of a school so with a little checking with my colleages I can find out what big assignments are due for the different grade levels. I ask "how's your biography going?" or when they bring their projects by I always give an admiring encouragement.

At first only a few kids would give me an acknowledgement to my good-mornings. Now though many make eye contact with me first in anticipation of the friendly greeting. It's a time where I can give these precious ones a quick prayer (silently) and an encouragement.

The first period of the day I have a "prep" time where I do everything from run copies, to grade papers, to enter scores on the computer, team meetings with the grade level teachers, parent conferences, etc. It never seems long enough.

The next period I teach math (32 students). The students at my grade level have been ability grouped by their test scores from last year. I have the group that measured in a category that was below being proficient according to state standards. Of the five teachers at my grade level only one is teaching a class to students that are at grade level according to state standards. The rest of us are playing catch-up.

The next period we (33 students) are reading "Acorn People". It has the word sh!t in it, and a few others. Some kids aren't comfortable saying those words in a read-aloud. I let them say "hmmmm" in place of whatever word they are not comfortable saying. Not my choice of books, but part of a "course of study" for the grade level in the district I work for. It has been taught in the district for more than 10 years at that grade level. It's a mainstay and on the state "adopted" list.

4th period is History (34 students), or as the public schools like to call it, Social Studies. I'm teaching about early man, the progression of evolution, paleolithic humans used simple tools and were hunter-gatherers, etc. This is all presented as factual. No words in the text like "theory", or anything else that suggests that these suppositions are anything but factual. There is a section on interpretation of data and how it depends on a scientist's background and amount of evidence found, but it seems to only relate to the way that hominid society lived. No questions as to whether or not that hominid was, for example, a neandethal man, because the strata that evidence was found in was determined to be during the time period that neanderthals were said to exist. We don't question that, but we can question what sort of tools the neanderthals used.

5th period (36 students) we do a combination of silent sustained reading (SSR) and Spelling during a 35 minute period. We want to create a culture and a love for reading (treat a student like a reader and they will become a reader, to which I reply 'treat a student like a pianist and he will become a pianist?') When I was the principal we used this time to teach students to read. My premise being that a love of reading doesn't come by osmosis, but by knowing how to read. The scores improved for everyone that year, even the minority and lower socio-economic status (SES) students. We met all our state and federal goals last year. Never the less the pressure to go back to the quiet reading time w/out guidance or instruction has pervaded. At my grade level we include Spelling because we still want our kids to know how to spell the words they are reading.

6th period is my 35 minute lunch and the SSR time for other grade levels. Hooray! Straight to the restroom before anything else. I think teacher bladders stretch with time. If not, well, maybe that's another reason why half the teachers leave the profession during the 1st 5 years. Then quick lunch, make some more copies of hand-outs for the afternoon.

7th period(32 students). Language Arts and writing. I don't know the research, but I think there is a close correlation between a student's reading level and his/her writing level. We are doing grammar, sentence structure, paragraph building. I find myself all over the place with the wide level of abilities in the classroom. Frustrated I cannot give enough time to the low students and really stimiulating the gifted. Inevitably someone gets cheated out of my direct instruction at his/her ability level.

8th period(33 students) is Science, and the last period of the day. The kids are wired and hard to settle down. We are working on the Scientific Method and the book starts right off applying the Scientific Method to the determining the age and situation of the earth and the dinosaurs that lived hundreds of millions of years ago. Hmmm. You are supposed to ask a question before making a hypothesis, and then testing it. I guess to be politically correct there are some questions that you are not supposed to the age of the earth and the origins of life. Yes, that must be it, because a couple of lessons later we learn about global warming and the flooding of coastlines due to shrinking glaciers, ice caps, etc.

Well that is my day. I don't have the same group of kids all day. Some are in more than one class, some only once. My intent is not to remind people why they are glad they left teaching, though I don't condemn them at all. Not one bit! It's a tough profession, but remember that God's grace is sufficient for us wherever He has us. If you're not in public education then you don't have the grace for it. If you are, then you do, if you'll lay hold of it and acknowledge the sovereignty of God. That actually goes for everybody regardless of his/her station in life.

Being a teacher is one of the best ways to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. These demonstrations of the fruit of the spirit I suspect are ways that the goodness of God that draws men to repentance are demonstrated. Your reflection of Christ in a hurting world cannot help but bring glory to God and spread His love to the lost, even if you cannot verbally express "God bless you" without a letter of reprimand.

The hard part is to reach the educational needs of all the students in your charge in good conscience. I spent all day (yes, Saturday) grading, assessing and diagnosing and thinking of teaching strategies. I'm pretty sure that a mom with a loving heart can do as well, probably better than I can, in educating her child(ren) than I can, and in half the time, at home. In fact, I'm sure of it. And I'm a really good teacher, even if I do say so myself!


  • I wrote this post last Sunday, but posted it today 10/9. I thought I had lost it, but it reappeared! By the way, I've learned that the district has been teaching "Acorn People" since at least 1978. That's a whole generation of kids having to say "hmmmm" when they got to a naughty word.

    By Blogger The Principal, at Tuesday, October 10, 2006 1:22:00 AM  

  • Let me first apologize, I am not one to do blogging as my friends call it. So please bare with me for I am unsure if this is the appropriate place to post a question that I have. I had read your post and felt as though u might be a good start to find the means to an end pertaining to a concern I am having about a (Required School Project). I myself have been in a public, private and last home schooling environment. Unfortunately, I have allowed my two oldest children attend private and public schools. The oldest attends our local High School here in Athens, TN. This is located in what many call the Bible belt so the following assignment came as a shock. Any way, more to the point she has been given an assignment to 1 - learn the practices of the Aztec's "Day of the Dead" celebrations and 2 - construct a project. The assignments are a requirement not an option for her Spanish class. For some reason I have been struggling with this. I can understand teachers trying to help children to learn and understand different cultures. Nevertheless, when dealing with a cultural belief and rituals (religion) is not that teaching religious matter. Separation of church and state our first Amendment, does it apply here or am I reading more into this? I cannot help but think what if a student was taught about the Jews and their beliefs or Christians, Hindus etc.. Are public school students ever asked to learn and construct projects to explain whom the Christians are and explain their beliefs? Again, maybe I am trying two read more into this but the research I did on the subject states. The Day of the Dead is a 3 day celebration held on oct. 31st - nov 2nd. It was and still is a celebration with rituals to honor their dead by building alters within their home and placing candles, flowers and burning incense. They spend 1 day in the cemetery of their departed sitting on picnic blankets playing their deceased loved ones favorite music and eating their favorite food. Their loved ones names are placed across skulls and are used to partake in drink from the skull. October 31 is a festive evening as visitors’ mill around the street festival. Many tour the seminary courtyard where representations of Mictlantecihuatl and Mictlantecuhtle, the lord and lady of the underworld, are on display, along with piles of unidentified skulls and bones that the villagers have found over the years when excavating in the area. These rituals have gone on for centuries. The Spanish Conquistadors unsuccessfully tried to eradicate this believed to be Sacrilegious Pagenistic ritual. Again what do u think? Religion or knowledge? If I should choose not to allow my daughter to do the project, it will result in a 0, which will count for 1/3 of the semester grade. I would love to hear what you or others might have on this subject. Her project is due in 1 week. My concise says no but others say just do it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Posted by justme299

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Saturday, October 14, 2006 2:08:00 AM  

  • Hello justme299;

    Study of the "Dia de los Muertos" is a popular theme grades k-12 throughout the states, especially in schools that have a large hispanic population. It is also a popular theme for Spanish language classes as well. It is so common that it is done traditionally every year at this time.

    It ties in to the Tennesse State Standards for foreign languages under standards 4.2 and 5.1 found at the Tennessee Dept. of Education website here:

    Please cut and paste, I don't know how to do the hyperlink from the comments box.

    The standards mention multi-culturalism and the study of other cultures in a generic sense, not pagan/catholic celebrations in particular. I would suggest that since this is a teacher preference, but not a specific state standard, that you request an alternative assignment that meets the standards set forth by the state of Tennessee that does not subject your daughter to a celebration that has its roots in such a gross morbidity. The sanctity of human life is something you would rather your daughter learn about and celebrate. Ask the teacher, and the principal for an alternative assignment the meets state criteria but is less objectionalble to your conscience.

    The teacher and administrator would be hard pressed to insist this specific assignment is mandetory (and no other) since this topic is not specifically addressed in the state standards. They should be challenged to provide an alternative assignment. The standards are general enough that any cultural event in any country with latin or spanish influence should suffice. Tell the teacher your daughter can look at the standards herself and come up with a cultural event that, when presented to the class, would even teach the teacher something new.

    Having the entire class do the same report is redundant and who wants to hear the same report and see the same project items. Challenge the teacher to take the standards in the spirit they are written in and have the classes pick up events, celebrations, etc. of any culture influenced by the latin/hispanic cultures.

    There are more than 20 countries on 4 continents and on islands that speak spanish. There should be a topic that meets state standards that would enrich your daughter's life as well as the lives of the students she presents to (and the teacher) that does not celebrate the greatest curse, sin.

    By Blogger The Principal, at Sunday, October 15, 2006 12:43:00 AM  

  • ...and death...

    By Blogger The Principal, at Sunday, October 15, 2006 12:46:00 AM  

  • Bill,

    It has been a while since I have read the blogging world. I have been swamped with work, kids, etc.

    In reading some of your latest comments (yours and your readers) about public education and your return to the classroom, I am curious to hear more thoughts from Christian public school teachers.

    I don't know if you recall the lawsuit in CA with a teacher named Stephen Williams from Cupertino.

    Well, he has moved to my town and has started a new ministry.

    He is trying to help Christian families navigate the public education system. He asked my opinion about his presentation (not attending live, but I read the PowerPoint presentation). I expressed concern that he is not strong enough about telling Christian parents to get their kids out of the system. Instead, he is equipping them to stay in the system. He is extremely knowledgeable and gives a very good presentation from what I have heard. But, I still believe he is equipping (and in a way condoning) parents to send their children to public schools.

    Overall, my concern with any Christian actively "assisting" another Christian to send their children to public schools is causing fellow Christians to be deceived.

    From my experience as a school board member (I resigned at the end of June 2006), Christian parents repeatedly told me about their child's Christian teacher and Christian principal and therefore, "my school is not that bad" AND their Christian teacher or principal would never teach the "bad stuff".

    Your day in the life of teaching indicates the complete opposite...You are a strong Christian recognizing the evil teaching of Satan, but you still must continue as a trained professional and hired teacher with the teaching of the world.

    I would like to hear from yourself and other Christian teachers who believe their presence in the system is NOT contributing to the deception of God's people. That you are not creating the perception of a "safe place" because you are a Christian working in the world and reaching lost children and families.

    I will not deny the instances of God's grace on children who have come from miserable family situations and the comfort, joy and truth dedicated teachers bring to these children. BUT, I believe the deception that is occurring at the other end of the spectrum is more damaging than this benefit.

    I applaud the dedication and service of public school teachers, but I question their motives and effectiveness for the kingdom of God. Unless Christian parents are being told to get their children out - by the teachers and principals - then I believe they are going to have to answer to Matthew 18:6:

    "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

    I can almost say that EVERY time I have talked to a fellow believer about sending their children to public school, they contend that their children are equipped for the challenge, that mom and dad are diligent to teach their children in the ways of the Lord, AND that their schools aren't that bad.

    This is pure deception that Satan has implanted into these families and I believe that Christian teachers are contributing to the deceptions. It is rare to find a teacher who is willing to stand up every day, at every parent teacher conference, and every chance they get, to counsel parents to remove their children from the public education system. I am not sure many of them believe it. On the surface, this cry is a conflict of interest for the teacher because their salary is tied directly to the number of children who attend public school (Christian and non-Christian).

    We should not assume that just because the public education system exists, it should always and will always exist. It has not always existed and there will be a time when it does not exist. Just because it exists doesn't make it an acceptable battleground for the souls of children. Just because it exists it is NOT assumed and/or acceptable for a Christian family to send their children there. Just because it exists doesn't mean that Christians must be involved, contributing and are supported by the system. God is by all means sovereign, but it is obvious that Satan rules the public school system. God will continue to be sovereign in spite of man's ignorance.

    Can Christian public school teachers wake up every day, go to work and say that they have nothing to do with supporting, promoting or advancing the control and influence that Satan has on young people today? Are they training and encouraging young people to always think on the things that are pure and holy? Are they holding parents who claim Jesus as Lord to be holy, to train their children in the ways of the Lord ONLY, and to remove their children from a system in which Satan is lord?

    By all means, children (and parents) need the saving grace and message of the Gospel, BUT there is no reason why this cannot happen in an environment outside of a "public" education system.

    By Anonymous Brian, at Wednesday, October 18, 2006 3:37:00 PM  

  • Hi Brian,

    Interesting points you bring up and I think we are on the same page. There are several things I would like to respond to but can't right now. I'm headed out of town for a few days and will be back mid-next between 1st quarter report cards I'll get a response in :-). Thanks for the link...I'll be looking it over.


    By Blogger The Principal, at Thursday, October 19, 2006 4:05:00 PM  

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