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Standards
Old 02-02-2020, 04:03 AM
 
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I have a tricky question about classroom standards. I teach at a middle school where students struggle academically and parents struggle socioeconomically. The days are not easy for anyone; respect and cooperation are in very short supply on all accounts.

Our 8th grade LA team (two teachers and myself) have pretty high standards. However, we don't feel that we expect too much or that assignments are too hard. We do teach bell-to-bell (we have a 90-minute block), as we have been instructed by the administration ~ so we expect students to likewise learn bell-to-bell. However, we try to keep activities varied and meaningful ~ being sensitive to student needs. For all of our efforts, student scores on standardized/state tests are fairly positive, and teacher evaluations match this.

Here's the thing ~ a significant number of teachers at our school have different standards. These teachers offer a lot of class free time. These teachers are fairly forgiving on school rules (with hoods up and earbuds in, for example). These teachers are more relaxed on monitoring of computers (with students often going to gaming sites).

By comparison we appear inflexible, intense, and insensitive. The administration does not seem to see their casual methods or hear our heartfelt concerns. And so, nothing is done.

My team and I believe that we are doing the right thing, but ~ of course ~ a number of students don't understand, dislike our classes, and "want out". We will flex our expectations (offering lessons that provide more variety, more interest, and more sensitivity to abilities), but we will not lower them.

None of us are in a position to find employment elsewhere ~ which is really fine, in that I don't think that any of us want to abandon the school. However, in the midst of all this, we are finding it to be an intolerable existence.

Any thoughts for how we might turn this around?

Many thanks to you for your thoughts!


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Old 02-02-2020, 04:24 AM
 
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I hate to say it, but unless your administration gets involved nothing will change. You are doing the right thing. If we lower expectations, the students will sink to that level.

I had a similar problem with other grade level teachers extending recess by 20-30 minutes daily on weeks they had duty. I blew the whistle and got students back inside on time. My complaints to the principal were ignored. This went on for years. It all came to a head last spring. I left that building for another grade level. My new team is much more interested in student learning and achievement. I'm much happier.
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I can sympathize...
Old 02-02-2020, 06:28 AM
 
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As a sub, I have to deal with these varied standards constantly... the hard ones for me are behavioral... I have trouble understanding why a teacher thinks they can allow violations of school policy in their classrooms. “Let’s teach kids we can all decide which rules we want to follow.” I respect the teacher I am subbing for, but I have my own expectations as well... as a regular sub, the kids seem to adapt.

I think you’re on the right track... most kids will strive/rise to our expectations as long as they are reasonable and rational. Don’t punish the achievers by lowering the bar.

With middle schoolers, I think it’s possible to get them to confront their expectations of themselves—their own self worth and pride. But it’s also a reality that some will go through life wanting to be at the bottom of the pile.

The irony is that it appears the same could be said about teachers. Unfortunately, some are content to “get by” by letting the kids get by. If admin tolerates it, self-worth and pride sets the bar.

Thanks for having self worth and pride and encouraging the same in students.
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Old 02-02-2020, 01:09 PM
 
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This is where admin has to step in. Otherwise, it’s going to stay the same.

We are on teams, and our entire team works to make common expectations to help prevent this issue.
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