(If you must have politics, please keep scrolling)
This first year as a classroom teacher, R is finding out the hard way that effective teaching is anything but easy, particularly during those first years.
R's lack of experience, however, is only the beginning of her woes as a first-year teacher.
First, the task that R has been assigned is impossible to accomplish in full. She is supposed to take huge classes of non-English speakers from several different countries and bring these students up to a high level of writing expository essays. At the same time, she is supposed to raise their reading comprehension levels so that these students will be ready to take college classes in the 2013-2014 term. R is supposed to accomplish these impossible goals by March, when the students will be tested!
I read through some of the students' work that R brought to our meeting. Overall, I estimate these students' work as that of fifth to seventh grade level; many students, however, are writing at a much lower level. For example, these lower-level students write in fragments and run-ons; some even neglect to paragraph their writing. Forget transitions and concluding statements, for the most part. And thesis statements and topic sentences? Hit or miss!
To top it all off, R is supposed to develop her own effective curriculum – within specific parameters, of course. Certain works, particularly classics, are taboo. Teaching any grammar is also taboo. R is also supposed to design her own rubrics and her own tests. In other words, she has no textbooks of any kind and few supplementary materials of any kind.
What is available? All types of resources, that is, file after file of proposed materials from which she is supposed to choose. Many of these materials are student materials to duplicate but accompanied by no specific activities for the teacher to use. As a result, R is required to develop her own "effective" activities and is, of course, groaning under the work load. At this point, she has no life outside of teaching classes, grading papers, and attending various administrative meetings as well as education classes.
To her credit, R is not complaining. Instead, she is desperately trying to figure out how to do the best that she can for her students. I am giving her some guidance.
(to be continued)