I tried to record this morning’s instructional video last night before going to bed and had to bail because I was finding myself entirely incapable of explaining adding and subtracting negative numbers in a way that made sense. Like, even to me. So I went to bed and tried to get up early to finish it.
And failed, because I slept for shit last night, and I’ve spent most of the day just sort of gazing into the middle distance.
I have nothing intelligent to say tonight. Have a woodworking video as penance.
I encountered an argument today that I thought was interesting and also kind of caught me by surprise, and I wanted to talk about it here both as a means of wrapping my head around it a little bit and to see if anyone else has any thoughts on it.
Every year I spend, conservatively, several hundred dollars on my classroom– either for basic supplies like pencils and paper, wall decorations that will probably last through the year, and on occasion more long-term, expensive items like my laser printer. Some years are more expensive than others, of course– any year where I change classrooms or subjects is gonna be bad– and even this year, when I’m not actually in the building yet, I still shelled out a chunk of change for items to improve the lighting in my office, a new mic stand, and a few similar things.
(I have a classroom wish list, which I’m pretty sure does not expose my real name; I link to it not because I want you to buy me things right now but so you can get an idea of what sorts of things I’m talking about.)
This teacher’s argument was that we should not be spending our own money on items for our classrooms. That, in and of itself, I’ve heard before and thought before, plenty of times, and the basic reasons for it are obvious. No other job, or at least none that I’m aware of, expects employees to pay for the basic services and tools necessary to do that job. My job is supposed to make me money, not cost me money, and blah blah whining about teacher pay.
No, her argument was different: that we should not be spending money on our own classrooms, because it creates an equity issue among the staff and among the students. So if Teacher A can afford whatever they want to put in their classroom and creates a magical learning wonderland by spending a bunch of money, and Teacher B is a new teacher who is struggling with student loans and isn’t getting paid jack, Teacher B’s students are going to get a lesser learning experience through no fault of Teacher B’s, when the fact is the state should be funding the rooms properly in the first place and making every classroom a magical learning wonderland. This is particularly an issue at the primary level, where there might be three fourth grade classrooms and the kids are with the same teacher all day.
And I’ll admit, part of me wants to dismiss this idea immediately and part of me thinks it has some merit. As a math teacher that every 8th grader in my building is going to see, it’s less of a concern for my situation, because all of them will be in my magical learning wonderland for a class period a day regardless of whether I spend a ton of money or not. But I can see this mattering at the elementary level. Then again, there is already going to be a certain level of educational inequality from classroom to classroom simply because of the composition of the classes and the skill and experience level of the teacher. We’ve all wanted to be (or have our kids) in a certain class with a certain teacher or h ad one who for whatever reason we’d rather avoid, and sometimes that’s the breaks.
This is, I think, less an argument against the actions of any one specific teacher and on stronger footing as an argument against the system itself. We all know the arguments about the ways we fund schools and what, as a society, we prioritize and what we don’t, and the simple fact of the matter is that the wealthy teachers shouldn’t need to use their money to spruce up their classrooms, particularly in a situation like we’re seeing now, where we see that some teachers are literally creating carrel desks out of plexiglass so that their rooms are safer from the plague. So we’ve got teacher income inequality leading to situations where, at least in theory, students are literally physically safer than in others.
That is bullshit, as I think we can all agree, and I’m not going to fall into the usual rant about how little America actually values education beyond paying barely-understood lip service. Throw a rock on this website; you’ll probably find one. But does the argument in general have merit?
Some, I think, but I still need to think about it more. What say you, commenters?
Testing went better today than yesterday, mostly because yesterday let me evolve a system that made sense, and I started with it today. However, I also got my ass kicked on Twitter earlier and deserved it, and between the two I’m a bit too tired for thinkystuff. So have a music video; I discovered this the other day (I wish I remembered where) and I don’t love it as much as the original but I love it:
I spent the day administering standardized tests, of all fucking things, which are somewhat more difficult to do remotely than in person. Furthermore, spending seven hours in front of my computer– I literally did not leave my desk all day, and my wife was nice enough to bring me lunch– watching numbers slowly tick up from 1 to 53 has got to rank as one of my most boring days as an educator ever.
And I get to do it a minimum of twice more, since they’re not all done yet. This is basically the plan for the rest of the week.
Nonetheless, I’m going to loudly insist that I’m not complaining, because the alternative remains worse.
Speaking of that: neighboring districts have announced their plan to move to hybrid learning in a couple of weeks, which will be fun until they back off of it right before it happens. The state’s numbers have done nothing but worsen in the month of August, and so have the county’s, particularly once Notre Dame came back– so do you know what the state board of health did? They took a set of metrics that had everything in the red and added a new color band so that what was once red and definitely recommending distance learning was now orange and distance learning was just “strongly recommended,” or some shit like that.
Just say you’re bored and you don’t care if people die. Just fuckin’ do it, we all know it’s what you mean.
It’s more honest and I’m really tired of bullshit.
We closed everything down in March, when there were virtually no cases in the state. We closed them again in August, when things were much much much worse than they were in March because Americans are dog-stupid and selfish as fuck and no one could be counted on to act right. Now in September damn near everything is worse than it was in August and with Labor Day next weekend, guess what’s about to happen? Motherfuckers are gonna have parties and then two weeks after that they’re gonna get sick.
Oh, and Notre Dame, fresh off of two weeks of quarantine, is about to allow crowds at the football games they’re still insisting they’re going to have. So, a super-spreader event in my town roughly every two weeks for the next few months? Awesome. Just what we want.
It’ll work out fine, I’m sure. After all, we’re bored.
I’m in a Meet right now with about ten of my kids, and one of them typed a mildly inappropriate word into the chat. Not a huge deal; I just told him not to put “that word” into chat and he nodded.
And his mother was in the background, off-camera, and she heard me, and she proceeded to come over and look to see what he’d typed, and then chewed him out. I muted them almost immediately and had to decide whether I was going to temporarily boot him from the meeting or not. I ended up not doing it, but it was amazing to see the way every other kid in the Meet just froze, as if it was their moms yelling at them.