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PDF Editor FAQ

Teachers, what items does your classroom need as the new school year is beginning?

Originally, my classroom needed five more desks. My numbers were a bit insane this year. All of my classes were at 36–42 students. Our administration keeps looking at the reported numbers of incoming students and assume (for no reason aside from their own mismanagement) that a large number of those students will go elsewhere. This year, they misfigured by roughly 10% of our student population. Fortunately, we had more desks!Instead of hiring another teacher, they found teachers who would be “willing” to give up their prep periods in exchange for a minor increase in pay. They gave one of our special education teachers an English class. Though this special education teacher has a credential in English… let’s just say I’m shocked that teacher has a credential in English since I have yet to get a literate email from that particular colleague. But… my numbers are now down. I now have classes ranging from 29 to 34. That’s great, since 34 is our contractual maximum.Now that the admin have solved that problem, I have to rethink my answer.Since a huge component of our currently adopted textbook is online, it would be nice if we had access for all of my students. We have a lot of students who don’t have internet access at home this year. In fact, it’s far worse than last year. My students get some access at school, but our library is shut down while the roof is replaced. Apparently all of the water leaks rotted out the joists.I’d also like new desks. I have desks from every decade since the school opened in the 1960s aside from the current decade… and maybe the last decade. It seems like we should set aside some money for such things and change desks on at least an every-couple-decade basis. A lot of them are breaking.

How can we encourage our 10-year-old to adjust to living with her grandparents? My husband and I are moving to a different state for work purposes. She’ll be staying with her grandparents for the next 6+ years. We will video chat and text our child.

I'm a recently retired elementary teacher.Your first mistake was thinking it would be fine to abandon your child to your parents. They don't replace a mother and a father. Your 2nd mistake is thinking there is a way to ‘encourage’ your daughter into accepting being abandoned. I spent years working in special education classes formed/comprised to deal with children who suffered with severe emotional issues caused by abandonment. I understand that employment is necessary but once you had a child, your #1 priority became ensuring your chikd was cared for physically and emotionally. Your daughter is 10 years old and on the cusp of her teenage years. To be gone for 6+ years you are effectively ruining any chance of your daughter being successful in her emotional and social maturation process. I strongly suggest you rethink your plans because you and your husband will lose any chance of a relationship with your daughter if you attempt such a relationship!

How can public schools attract and retain great teachers?

Great question!Salary - Public school teachers have amazing vacation schedules. It's true. However, compared to other people with graduate degrees, they make a fraction of the amount. It's sad but true - many people leave the profession because the amount of work required to be effective vs. the relative compensation.Support - With the continued budget cutting, there is almost no support in place for teachers - new or veteran. Bring back the mentor teachers / BTSA models to help new teachers acclimate. Make sure there is enough personnel on site so teachers don't have to do other people's jobs (some things teachers do include: clean their classroom, update cumulative folders, contact parents to schedule IEPs, etc. which should be the responsibility of custodians, secretaries, and administrators / special education teachers, respectively).Education - Encourage teachers to learn new approaches (easier said than done, I know) by offering continued education, classes on technology already at their sites, and chances to observe each other. Have amazing teachers model lessons in other teachers' classrooms. Encourage the open exchange of ideas instead of one teacher, one classroom.Innovation - Have a forum for teachers to discuss ideas they'd like to see implemented. Try to act on them. Encouraging input will not only get practical ideas from the people who will use them but also help with buy in.Feedback - Rethink the evaluation system. Instead of an adversarial model, use coaches (see also: support). Also, if someone isn't meant to be a teacher, don't offer him/her tenure. It's okay to continue to work on becoming a great teacher, but it is the administration's responsibility to intervene and work with a teacher who isn't up to standards - both before and after receiving tenure.Public Attitude - This is both the most difficult to change and most important change. At one point in this country, teachers were respected. The idea of becoming a teacher was a treasured goal. Now, many people assume teachers have taken the job because they "couldn't get a better one." Many parents are disrespectful to teachers. Until we embrace this job as a vital and respected profession, people will continue to leave it. Personal note: I absolutely chose to become a teacher, and I love my job. However, I have been overtly and subtly judged lacking by many people, and it wears me down. Other than #7, this is the worst part of my job by far.Paperwork - Please stop asking teachers to do the same thing every year while calling it something new (getting back to basics, unwrapping the standards, embracing the core curriculum, etc.). It makes us die inside. Use that time for education, innovation, or coffee & simple exchange of ideas.

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