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A concerned member of the human race

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Common Planning Time, Parental Outreach and the Rambles of Winter...

If you're a New York City public-school teacher, given the new contract, you are probably working with specific time slots set aside for common planning and parental outreach this year.  I am sure these time slots have come to mean very different things from school to school, as well as from department to department.  

In my case, common planning time has come to mean a march towards more uniformity.  We need to realign the curriculum to the new state social-studies framework.  At the same time, we maintain a rigorous schedule of uniform assessments.  We must be on the same page, or close to it.  We need to hit target destination points for a barrage of uniform quizzes.  We need to deliver the same projects to our students.  For anyone who thrives on creative impulses, this could put a damper on some days!

In my case, parental outreach means more data entry.  We are told to input our outreach into the school's database.  I call parents and send e-mails when it proves convenient; then, during the allotted P.O. time, I backtrack.  I input the data, using purposefully vague terms, so as not to overly insult anyone's right to privacy.  Oddly enough, the earliest time I can note for contact is 7 a.m.  Yet, most of my e-mails go out prior to 6 a.m.  

All our data must be in good working order for those people who look down upon us from their Race to the Top.  Looking on the bright side, however, if we have to march on together, I couldn't think of nicer comrades than my colleagues with whom to march and then labor to meet the data quota, gulag-sytle.  

And, it is nice to know that along the way, I can still occasionally turn my rudder to fit my own needs or those of my students.  The other day, for instance, I pulled a lesson on Ireland out of my gunny sack as part of my imperialism unit, thrusting "The Minstrel Boy" center stage.  And although winter may be a-comin,' just to show my step is still slightly out of sync, and whither I am called, I carry some happiness in my heart as I go, here's one of my favorite Irish tunes "Rambles of Spring":

There's a piercing wintry breeze
Blowing through the budding trees
And I button up my coat to keep me warm
But the days are on the mend
And I'm on the road again
With my fiddle snuggled close beneath my arm

I've a fine, felt hat
And a strong pair of brogues
I have rosin in my pocket for my bow
O my fiddle strings are new
And I've learned a tune or two
So, I'm well prepared to ramble and must go

I'm as happy as a king
When I catch a breath of spring
And the grass is turning green as winter ends
And the geese are on the wing
And the thrushes start to sing
And I'm headed down the road to see my friends


I have friends in every town
As I wander up and down
Making music at the markets and the fairs
Through the donkeys and the creels
And the farmers making deals
And the yellow headed tinkers selling wares


Here's a health to one and all
To the big and to the small
To the rich and poor alike and foe and friends
And when I return again
May our foes have turned to friends
And may peace and joy be with you until then


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