Tuesday, March 6, 2012

SOL 6 out of 31 An email

1. I'm taking a break from my "message writing" tonight. It has been a long day and I need to let it rest for a few days.

My writing tonight is an email I wrote to the Director of Instruction. I was disappointed in the decision that the leadership team made in my district and just had to let my voice be heard.

I struggled because I wasn't sure it was appropriate. After a few days and not being able to move on I felt driven to stand up for my professional beliefs.

So, here it is!

I’m sure you have sensed my emotional response to the conversation and results of the meeting and the deep impact it has had on me. From my perspective the teachers showed disregard for my professional knowledge. (My self-worth is rooted in validation of my work and knowledge level. My strong passion is my strongest weakness.) I have been climbing an up hill battle with the UOS for four years and just wish I had more teachers riding the wagon instead of being pulled along.

It’s upsetting to realize that the new Units and information provided was not reviewed. I put hours of thought into the original pacing guide and spent district funds for additional materials specific to third grade and it was rejected before it was even given a chance.

I viewed the minutes and still do not see more than four writing pieces. (Poetry does not count.) I see: Launching, Raising the Quality, Essay and the fourth being a choice. I have very strong opinions concerning the number of units. It is sinful and unjust that third graders at IPS only be exposed or taught four UOS. Can we, please, discuss this point further?

Further clarification would be appreciated around the info writing pieces. Students will do at least one informational writing piece during writing time ea trimester. The ‘during writing time’ concerns me because students will be working within a UOS. If the idea were to stop the progression of teaching within a UOS to spend a week on an informational writing piece I would have to strongly disagree.

After reviewing the prompts, students should be writing short-answer responses to all or many of those prompts within science and social studies. For the informational writing pieces to be considered writing instruction the grade level would need to develop teaching points for compare/contrast, cause/effect and description writing. (GLCEs that are not included in the CCSS.)

Regarding professional development, I believe it will need to be someone from outside of the district. Yes, the district should have an on-going professional development plan for writing. I have expressed this need many times. However, to be direct, needing additional professional development has been the excuse since the beginning. I will do my best, but I don’t know what else to do for them. At what point do the teachers need to take an active roll in their own professional learning? I’m beginning to feel that the knowledge level needed to teach writing through a workshop approach may be out of reach for IPS, which is painful for me to say.

One of the reasons I feel outside PD is needed is because my beliefs and philosophy would tell them to stop spending a week on one teaching point. They need to move along. Much of their frustration is coming from the UOS lasting way, way too long.

Conferring takes a considerable amount of time. The bottom line is you need to DO IT to practice it. Here are the questions I would ask: What work have they done around conferring? How many have tried to confer with students? Do they have any examples of any conferring notes? How many of them have used the resource provided three years ago on conferring?

I will remain adamant that opinion writing needs to be included as a writing unit. If anything comes from my email, it’s the need and requirement that opinion writing be added to the pacing guide for this year. This unit has been provided to them. It is critical to 4th and 5th grade and needs to be introduced in third grade and for that matter 2nd and 1st. Opinion writing is the CCSS.

Obviously I have reflecting upon this series of events, maybe too much, but it has been eating me up and I needed to unload before I self-destruct. The UOS is my thing; it’s the one thing that I belong to and so badly need it to be successful.

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