Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Civil Unrest

The rumors about Writer's Workshop persist, yet my questions and concerns have not yet been answered. The principal is supposed to meet with each department at one of our department meetings each month. Far's I know, in four months, we've had him stop in ONCE. Dammit, I want answers. I'm tired of being uncertain and confused.

Workshop questions:
1) Minilessons: How "mini" is a minilesson? What happens when they don't get it? Do you keep trying right then or come back to it another time? When do you tell those who are still staring at you blankly "nope, sorry, we've got to move on without you; if we spend all term attempting to teach the difference between action and linking verbs we'll never even get to subject/verb agreement, let alone comma splices!"
2) Work time and conferences: How the heck do you keep other students on task?? And how can you have a productive conference if you've got to look up every four seconds and say "Sh! Do your work!" or something?
3) Sharing time: What if they don't? Should those who are not sharing be allowed to continue working quietly, or is this a sit-and-listen-silently time?

Things came to a head at lunch today. My department is NOT happy. I'm hearing a lot of "this won't work" sort of comments (though I don't know if anyone just came flat out and said that). But I think the true frustration is "this won't work because we're being shoved into it with neither training nor support." I don't think that's necessarily true, because the teachers in our department are phenomenally talented. However, it WOULD be a bit easier to accomplish this successfully if we WERE trained and HAD support. Grh.

Still pondering my questions about standards-based grading and not giving zeros. More on that later.


Mrs. Chili said...

While I understand the time crunch, I say stick with a mini lesson until at least a critical mass of students understand it. After that, sic the kids who DO get it on the kids who don't - peer teaching is sometimes a good way of both getting the lesson across AND freeing up class time for the next mini lesson!

The Science Goddess said...

I have not used Writer's Workshop---but I have seen it successfully implemented in our elementary classrooms.

Keep in mind, though, that those classrooms had plenty of support (literacy coaches) for getting it in place.

I think just about any professional development is doomed to fail if there is no way to sustain it once teachers are expected to implement it with students.

Joel said...

Hey, I linked to you over at So You Want To Teach? in the 148th Carnival of Education, but it didn't trackback correctly. Sorry about that.

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