I'm curious what the peas think about this teacher situation.....

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Posted 2/4/2013 by snugglebutter in NSBR Board

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PeaNut 55,649
November 2002
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Loc: TX

Posted: 2/4/2013 3:41:17 PM
(this is not a school that is local to me) An elementary school is gearing up to switch their reading curriculum/instruction for next year. They are moving from basal readers/textbooks to "guided reading". I don't know much about the details except that it is a pretty big shift in teaching styles. The school is having workshops etc... to train the teachers for the newer method.

So there are three teachers (in different grades) who have 1 more year left before retiring and they are refusing to change how they teach reading. I've been hearing about all of this from one of these teachers. In their words, it's "not fair" to have to relearn all of this for one year of teaching. They are also quite convinced, despite no direct experience with it, that the newer method is inferior.

Thoughts? I'm rather stunned by the attitudes of the nearly retiring teachers. I get that they have been doing it one way for years, but there is also value in being a team player. I can't imagine telling the principal a flat out "no" but I also realize that tenured teachers are untouchable compared to employees in other fields. Where is the balance between giving teachers freedom in their classrooms and having a unified plan throughout the school?


PeaNut 259,367
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Posted: 2/4/2013 3:44:48 PM
I also realize that tenured teachers are untouchable compared to employees in other fields.


Not true in my district. Tenured teachers can lose their jobs, and more easily now with new state legislation. As for your original concern, I would want to know if it is research-based and if it really will work. The shift to "whole language" many years ago left a LOT of kids unable to read well. The teachers should learn and do it for their last year. Why not go out with the best year yet?

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PeaNut 15,878
May 2001
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Posted: 2/4/2013 3:48:52 PM
You know what? Tough on them. It happens. Every time I master a program we get a new one. We have to keep learning, growing and trying new things just like the children do.

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PeaNut 471,001
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Posted: 2/4/2013 3:56:00 PM
I see you live in TX.

Are you sure your district has "tenure"? I've never heard of it in TX. Teachers "unions" don't have very much power here at all.

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PeaNut 55,649
November 2002
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Posted: 2/4/2013 3:57:53 PM

I see you live in TX.

Are you sure your district has "tenure"? I've never heard of it in TX. Teachers "unions" don't have very much power here at all.

This school is not in TX.



PeaNut 178,427
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Posted: 2/4/2013 4:02:10 PM
I would look into the program they are getting and look at scores based on what they are using. School systems buy into new programs all the time-it seems like when teachers hit a stride and can actually use and implement all that a reading series/program has to offer, the school system gets something new. That first year the teachers often struggle to use the system in the best way possible. Not to mention all the things teachers have made to go along with the system they have.

As a retiring teacher I would not say I am refusing to do it, but it sure would be a mixture of what I know has worked in the past as well as something new. School systems often throw out the baby with the bathwater and then have to go back and try and patch what is missing. Meanwhile it is the kids who suffer (like those who were forced to use whole language only).

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PeaNut 70,391
February 2003
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Posted: 2/4/2013 4:03:08 PM
Hey, when I'm old and generally irascible, and my employer gets a new computer system on which we need to generate our daily work, I think I'll flat-out refuse to learn it.

Yeah, that'd work REALLY well.

It really annoys me when older employees *refuse* to learn new technology, new ways of doing things, etc. If they're still collecting a paycheck, they need to STEP UP and DO THE WORK the way it is expected of them.

In the 20 years since I've been out of college, I've learned four different computer systems at my workplace. I expect to be working years more, and I expect to learn a few more computer systems before I die.

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PeaNut 57,182
November 2002
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Posted: 2/4/2013 4:11:10 PM
I don't really have an opinion on the reading program itself, but the culture of education is that there is always some "new, big thing" that is going to be the be all and end all (phonics/whole language, problem solving/memorizing math facts, all sorts of character ed programs, extrinsic/intrinsic rewards, etc, etc). And it is . . . until the next new, big thing arrives

I would wonder if it is just these 3 teachers opposing the program in isolation, or how parents, staff and teachers feel about it. The school where I work has implemented a new LA program, a new math program and a new character ed program, all within the last 3 years or so. It is pretty much impossible to get such large scale projects up and running in a year--there are always wrinkles to work out, problems that arise, adjustments to be made--perhaps it would not be wise for a teacher who is retiring to change a huge part of what/how she teaches for a year with no time to 'fix' all of the little things that will need fixing?

A long time teacher in my province was recently fired because he gave a student a zero in his class--which was absolutely contradictory to the board's "no zeroes ever" policy. The firing did open up a lot of discussion on the policy, but the last I heard the teacher was still fired . . .


PeaNut 203,642
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Posted: 2/4/2013 4:12:44 PM
I agree that "I don't have to do it because I am retiring" is the wrong attitude.

However, in their defense, I can see being pretty resentful about having the switch made in my last year of teaching. IME, basal series basically include EVERYTHING you need to teach reading. Guided reading? Not so much.

When my district switched to guided reading, we were NOT given sufficient materials to do it. We got the guided reading books and that was it. No assessments--those had to be teacher made. No supplemental materials--find your own. No integration with other subjects--develop your own. While the series came with an common reading book for all kids, we were specifically told we were not to use it UNLESS we used it for a read aloud to model skills/strategies with the kids were following along. The reader had "related" guided reading books in small group sets (3 levels, 6 books each--nowhere near enough for my class of 28 students) that were supposed to go along with the skill featured in the main story, but the skills were not presented in the same order as required by our district.

Even though the series included a language curriculum that for teaching writing/grammar skills, we couldn't really use it b/c they were presented out of order and didn't "build" from week to week. We could have just followed the language program in order regardless of what stories we were working on, but most of the curriculum relied heavily on the vocabulary that was presented in the story. I had to teach "double vocabulary" if the students needed to learn vocabulary for the story from Unit 5 that we were reading but vocabulary from Unit 2 for the language activities this week. It was pretty confusing, and that first year required a LOT of legwork and "trial and error" that would only pay off in year 2 or 3.

I about drove myself crazy with guided reading the first year. I also spent a small fortune putting together the required "learning stations" (again, not funded by the district but definitely an expectation of the program). The second year, I managed to conclude that the series our district purchased was crap, and by year three, the teachers on my grade level (with our principal's permission) were doing more "reading workshop" than the district's guided reading program.

If I were those teachers, I would make the best of this last year in the classroom and do guided reading with the materials provided. I would NOT put any of my own money into it, nor would I spend a lot of evenings preparing materials that will never be reused.


PeaNut 504,759
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Posted: 2/4/2013 4:17:08 PM
I am a teacher and all teachers belong to a union in my state. The short answer is we are required to follow directives from our administrators. Period.

Typical Liberal

PeaNut 221,236
August 2005
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Posted: 2/4/2013 4:18:13 PM
Insubordination is grounds for dismissal in my district. Even if you're in your last year of teaching.


PeaNut 21,938
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Posted: 2/4/2013 4:50:35 PM
Have they given reason why they think the new way is inferior?



PeaNut 340,861
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Posted: 2/4/2013 5:04:31 PM
I thought all professionals had to participate in "continuing education". It's just a part of life.

DD's school has taught 'guided reading' since before she started K. She's now in year 6. I think it requires more parent helpers in the classroom in the early years. I really enjoyed volunteering and watching all the kids learn how to read.

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PeaNut 99,963
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Posted: 2/4/2013 5:06:50 PM
We just made this change this year. There was no choice in the matter. We all did it - even the teacher next door who will retire. We also implemented the Daily Five program. We all followed the plan to implement it. Everyone had to make some adjustments make it work for their class. I did hang onto my basal texts so that I could use some of the stories in my guided reading groups. This year has been a lot of work, but I think my kids are doing as well as they did in the past.



PeaNut 31,845
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Posted: 2/4/2013 5:13:00 PM
It's not just teachers... my mother works with an older woman who refuses to use a computer, only a typewriter. She's been typing away since the 80's and they have an intern who inputs the data into the computer.

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Peaing under the Radar

PeaNut 61,691
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Posted: 2/4/2013 5:13:41 PM
I haven't read the other responses, but IMO, if they don't want to teach the new curriculum they should retire a year early. And if that affects their pensions and they don't want to do that, maybe they should reconsider their willingness to teach the new curriculum.

My mom is 78 years old and still working. She works in an accounting office and is constantly having to learn new technology. Saying that she's near retirement and doesn't want to would never cut it.


PeaNut 350,195
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Posted: 2/4/2013 5:14:53 PM
If you don't want to learn a new system, you have lost your thirst for knowledge. It's time to retire! BTDT


Ideay pues?

PeaNut 143,106
April 2004
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Posted: 2/4/2013 5:18:59 PM
ROTFLOL. I cannot even imagine refusing to learn new things regarding my job. It's a good thing this teacher is retiring; she has obviously lost her love of knowledge (if it was ever there to begin with).

prairie sentinel

PeaNut 57,182
November 2002
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Posted: 2/4/2013 5:28:49 PM
I don't know that you can say she's lost her love of knowledge--she still plans on teaching reading in a way that has obviously proven effective in the past--and I am a voracious reader and learner, but that doesn't mean I agree with and put into practice everything I learn--I am knowlegable enough to know what I can make work for me . . .

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PeaNut 224,352
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Posted: 2/4/2013 5:32:31 PM
Frankly, I hope your district fires those three teachers. They represent what is WRONG with schools today. They sound like old bitter hags. Seriously, what would they do if a child said something was not fair? I dare not think it!

They need to GOOOOOOO! They are hired to teach the curriculum that is provided by the district, not what they feel is fair. Goodness gracious!!

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PeaNut 247,320
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Posted: 2/4/2013 6:04:32 PM
If they are about to retire then it's very likely that they've been around long enough to see things repeat. I can't imagine flat out refusing to do something.

Yes, they need to follow the requirements of their employer. But sometimes the most experienced employees are wise about such changes and frustrated at what they see as waste and roadblocks to providing the best education.

I agree. This is my 20th year and it's my most frustrating year for several reasons. There are so many new changes coming and many of us question the changes. My blood pressure just rises thinking about it. Off to draft a letter to the department of education.


PeaNut 379,678
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Posted: 2/4/2013 8:05:14 PM
Wow...I'm just shocked that there are still schools that use basal readers. "Guided Reading" has been the standard and a best practice for MANY years. It is NOT new.

Many schools are currently moving away from literacy centers to a Reading Workshop model (the Daily 5 is one version of this). That big push has been made over the last 5-10 years. Some of the teachers I work with are having a hard time with this. But they do it. Because they signed a contract saying that they would...


PeaNut 5,071
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Posted: 2/4/2013 8:10:10 PM
I was going to say we changed to guided reading probably 15 years ago and have moved on from there. Tenure does you no good when you don't teach what the district is telling you to teach. It isn't a choice, it is an expectation. Their bitterness is going to be felt by the students and there is no place for that in education.

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PeaNut 164,125
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Posted: 2/4/2013 8:17:17 PM

Wow...I'm just shocked that there are still schools that use basal readers. "Guided Reading" has been the standard and a best practice for MANY years. It is NOT new.

AMEN...schools here have been doing guided reading for YEARS.

The teacher you heard say this could have just been venting...you did hear this first hand right?? And being insubordinate whether you're tenured or not ends up with the same result...no job....something tells me this teacher was just venting.

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PeaNut 114,407
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Posted: 2/4/2013 8:20:12 PM
Old dogs, new tricks?

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PeaNut 218,205
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Posted: 2/4/2013 10:53:15 PM
Well, I don't really care if it's the "next best thing" or not, when your district adopts a new curriculum or a different program you do it. I also don't care if it takes more work. You still do it. Don't like it? Too bad! Obviously it's time for these three teachers to retire NOW.

Oh - guided reading is not a "fad" that's going to be gone in another year and replaced by something else. (not that it really matters)

I would think the district is going to give them resources and trainings to make the switch as easy as possible.

As I am hired by my district I am pretty much agreeing to teach what I'm told to teach. If I don't like it, time to go. Not my decision to just do whatever because I don't like this big change in my last year.

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PeaNut 118,730
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Posted: 2/5/2013 3:50:06 AM
I can see it both ways. It seems to me that every couple of years everyone has an education revolution and has to teach some new method (like the horrible math curriculum in our schools right now)

However I always remember with some issues at school my mom would just sigh and say "that teacher needs to retire already".


PeaNut 471,901
June 2010
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Loc: Hillsboro, TX

Posted: 2/5/2013 6:07:43 AM
In my short experience (this is my 8th year), I've already noticed that teaching methods and pedagogy are pretty "trendy". We switched from primarily phonics based reading to guided reading my second year in my district and while I now teach primarily math, I can see a shift back towards a more phonics focused curriculum happening in the next handful of years. It's all very cyclical. As for those teachers' crummy attitudes...maybe they should just go ahead and retire now.

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PeaNut 472,567
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Posted: 2/5/2013 8:05:00 AM
Despite it being the teachers last year, they are being paid to teach the district or state approved curriculum to the students that year.

Therefore, whether they are there for another year or for five more years or twenty more years, they are to teach the approved curriculum.

It it their principal's job to ensure that the teachers are teaching the curriculum.

They are not RAFP (retired at full pay).
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