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Making Up Work

December 2, 2022 am31 11:03 am

Kid contacts you (might be the parents, but let’s say it’s high school and it’s the kid). They’ve been out two days. It’s a family thing. They will be out for an indefinite period of time – hopefully not too long, but they don’t know. What do you do?

Grumble a bit? Maybe. It’s not what you’ve planned for. Little extra work for you. But it’s not the kid’s fault. Maybe they even sounded sad about not being in class. So you do the right thing:

  • Make a plan for the kid to keep up, or partially keep up, if they are able. You give it to the kid.
  • Make a plan for them to catch up when they return. It’s tentative, since you don’t know when that will be. It might be mental, not written – easier as you keep mentally revising it. And you tell the kid “don’t worry – we will have a plan when you get back.”

Where I’ve taught, where friends and colleagues have taught, that is the norm. But there are exceptions. Ugly exceptions.

There are teachers who don’t make a plan for the kid to keep up. Who don’t reassure the kid there will be a plan when they get back. And when the kid does return, there are teachers who don’t make it easy to catch up. These are jerks.

Far worse are the assholes. An asshole blames a kid for having been out. An asshole makes much of how far behind the kid is. And an asshole does not give the kid a chance to make up work.

NYC Remote Year 2020-2021

This was like a big, extended absence. Most of us were remote (or at least not regular in-person) for most of the year. We provided some work for kids. And we were ready to get going as soon as school was normal again. We did what normal teachers do. We did our best to do the right thing.

2020-2021 Jerks

We needed help making remote better. Where was the NYC Department of Education? Where was the United Federation of Teachers? Not helping.

They were focused on getting us back into the classroom. They must have thought that working to improve remote instruction would make them look “bad” – like they would rather have us remote.

We needed to be remote because of the pandemic. It was not our choice. But while we were remote we needed help. Was there professional development? Did the UFT create spaces for teachers to share best remote practices? No.

Kids needed help learning what they could through the remote period. The jerks sat on the side.

(Teachers really tried to teach. It was hard)

Today, Assholes

Starting last September, and continuing through this year, we have students. These students lived through the pandemic. They struggled. Some did not learn anything during that time. Some learned a little. Many learned quite a bit, but less than they would have in a normal school year.

So what did we do?

Did we figure out how to catch the students up? Did we decide that some material could be safely skipped or forgotten? (Math teachers in particular needed to work on this – not having done so we are still facing consequences).

It’s been a real mixed bag.

And that’s a shame, because the schools’ obligation is to serve the kids. Not the kids we wish we were teaching, the imaginary kids who did not live through the height of COVID. The schools need to serve the kids in their buildings.

There should be curricular adjustment. There really hasn’t been. Scope and sequence need modification. Not happening.

But what is happening is vile.

The New York Times, the centrist Democrats, and all and sundry opponents of public education – they are celebrating. They are dancing. They are pointing to lower test scores.

“See!” – they squeal with delight – “Learning Loss!”

(In fact, the phrase “learning loss” is not constructed to understand and improve. It is destructive, by design. I should come back to that.)

A kid misses months of school. How will the kid get back into the swing?

Oster and Shapiro and the Times are too busy congratulating themselves to pay any attention to helping our kids.

Don’t believe me? Go read what they write. Not a word about a plan to move forward.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mea Ambrosio permalink
    December 2, 2022 pm31 1:31 pm 1:31 pm

    You are correct! Not one ounce of PD to help us teach in an area we were not trained. This being said NYCDOE did institute HMH and our principals bought into this curriculum. Yet hands on explaining would have help. Again I say we are the most intelligent work force in nyc yet nobody asks us! They rather justify their existence in paying millions maybe even billions on programs that are not geared towards nyc population

    • December 4, 2022 am31 8:22 am 8:22 am

      What is HMH?

      I think the failure to support/improve remote was completely intentional.

      But lots of useless statements that we had “figured it out”

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