Come on, KSD, you can do better than that…

A question was sent to me by a member asking why KSD withheld the new math teaching manuals (Math Expressions) from elementary teachers who could not or chose not to attend summer trainings.  Good question.  Teachers were then instructed to use their old resources and skills to come up with lessons for math until they could attend trainings late in September.  This teacher went on to say that she felt responsible for getting her students started on the new curriculum, so she borrowed a teammate’s manual and had an hour a day with it to plan lessons for her students which was not enough time.  In the end, she got trained on the new curriculum and received her own materials by October, but what was the message that she got from all this?  She felt that she was being punished because she couldn’t take the training in the summer.  When I first heard about this plan last year, that was the first thing that came to my mind, too.  Is there any other idea that explains why the district either couldn’t have moved the trainings up closer to the first of the year or supplied the materials so that teachers could at least frame their lessons with the new curriculum in mind?  Come on, KSD, you can do better than that.

This really brings to mind a bigger picture concerning curriculum and program adoptions and roll-outs that has been an issue in district for many years.  We have all seen curriculums and programs come in that were touted as the “new, next best thing,” and were talked up vociferously for a year, maybe two, and then just went away.  Some of those programs and curricula were good; some were not as good, but frequently, there seems to be something about the way they are presented that causes initial problems that are never overcome and the demise is apparent even as the program is implemented.  Sometimes it seems to be funding that is a problem; other times it is a lack of person-power to enable success.  Other times, buy-in doesn’t happen or combinations of reasons occur; we have seen all of these.  The bottom line is that we initiate and then drop many programs that are not given a reasonable chance to succeed.  I see this as a problem with the TI (or MTI or RTI or whatever it’s called at your building) implementation.  This could work really well.  I have talked to many teachers who see the potential.  I’ve talked to teachers who say that they are seeing the benefits, but it is taking many more hours per week to see those gains.  That becomes a workload issue.  KEA made the point last year that we need members on all adoption committees to take a look at any new curriculum to examine it from a contractual basis; issues of time and workload need to be viewed as a part of any adoption.  KSD agreed, and we put people on committees, but we still have problems.  It always feels like there is such a rush to implement that important details get ignored or covered up and then you wind up with the district “punishing” people who won’t get on board by doing things like withholding materials from teachers.  Come on, KSD, you can do better than that.

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10 Responses to “Come on, KSD, you can do better than that…”

  1. Disrespected Says:

    I heard that the trainers for Math Expressions told a group of teachers that this program is great for guest teachers because it’s “guest teacher friendly”. Well, if a guest teacher (who is untrained in this prog.) can walk into a classroom for the day and pick up the manual and teach from it, and successfully I might add, then why were our classroom teachers denied access to these manuals until they attended a late Sept training???? So easy? So user-friendly? Let’s be treated as professionals and trusted as professionals! Please do not withhold our teaching tools from us! Imagine all those students who lost 3-4 weeks of math via this program because their teacher was denied a manual! How petty.

  2. building rep Says:

    As well, what irritated me was that at our first Math Expressions training, we were told that this program is so user friendly, the teacher materials so clearly written, that anybody could walk into our room and teach it. So that begs the question as to why we weren’t just given the materials right away.

    I was further irritated that my principal called me up at home during my summer (end of July) because he noted that I hadn’t attended the June math training, nor was I signed up for the August training. He was checking up on me. This irritates me because once he called, my summer was over. I’d never call my principal at home during summer. Why did he feel that he could call me on my time off?

    • kenteducationassociation Says:

      Next time, make sure the caller ID is working… Truthfully, this was an attempt to coerce you into doing something you were not required to do and that the district should have had a plan for.

    • Frustrated Says:

      And folks, this is why we must protect our collective bargaining rights. Imagine what administrators would do without the protection of our union? Many of us have already witnessed many administrators pushing the envelope, trying to get around the contract, and some do!! Without a union, they would have full power.

  3. Veteran Says:

    I have been a part of many KSD adoption committees over the last 28 years. As part of the Literacy Steering Committee, during which the current writing and reading materials were adopted, it always seemed that several types of programs were heavily promoted and the steering committee, was heavily stacked with staff geared one way. Elementary teachers were to receive, classroom libraries to use during the literacy block. Lists were compiled per grade level for elementary classrooms. These libraries were to be rolled out the second year after the adoption after we received the Benchmark Leveled book room. They were to be in every classroom to assist teachers in implementing the Literacy Workshop Model required but not supported by the KSD. Experienced teachers have 1000’s of books skillfully purchased over the years to provide reading materials for the wide range of students in their classrooms. New teachers do not. This situation does not lend itself to “equal access” for all students, a concept often quoted by the administration but not supported. WE ARE ALL STILL WAITING FOR THE CLASSROOM LIBRARIES TO BE PURCHASED BY THE KSD. Should we just stop teaching until we get the classroom libraries? This would seem as “reasonable” as the “no training, no manual”, strategy. This move clearly indicates a lack of knowledge and interest in what it takes to help students achieve. All teachers should have received the manuals before summer break. Many of us would have actually used some of our own time reviewing them so that we were prepared to use them.

    • Frustrated Says:

      Hear, hear. Very well said! KSD has grandiose ideas, but no foresight as to what their ideas will entail regarding materials, support, access, etc. New teachers or even veteran teachers need books. I think I may have about 300 books, but of course, they wear out as children use them (which is a good thing!). So far, I hear alot of “new ideas”, but nothing to support the classroom teacher.

      BTW, someone who used to work up at the admin building said the sentiment up there is very “anti-teacher”. Is that why our principal always targets the teachers as the ones who are solely responsible for a child’s success? We have yet to hear her say at a staff meeting, “You support personnel (certificated), I need to hear what YOU are doing to support the classroom teacher.”

      • Just a teacher... Says:

        And what is building administration doing to support the positive moral or lack there of?

        We may hear “changes are happening at the top”…but I’m here to tell you, “I don’t see them at the bottom.”

  4. Language! by Default Says:

    This would explain why there never was a full fledged “pilot” for Language!, yet it was adopted throughout the district. And of course, Sopris West has a good thing going, because they “bundle” the books all together…After a few years, we’ll have 10,000 textbooks at each level, and no consumables. They sell the text book, workbook, content mastery and summative assessments in one bundle.

    As for data for this? What data? I barely have time to teach and correct, let alone enter data for Language! into a separate website…Oh, that’s right, they’ll pay me 1.5 hours if I come after contract time to learn how to enter it…No thanks! The scores can stay in the books until I’m given the appropriate time or money to enter them into the website.

    • Tell Me More Says:

      Much is dumped on classroom teachers! My friends, we must ask, what are certificated-specialists-data coordinators-pseudo-righthand administrator-personnel doing to help classroom teachers? Sorry, but I know how to read data and can interpret it myself (which we do anyway as classroom teachers). So, let’s reorg the “helpers and supporters” in schools and find ways to make them work so our classroom teachers don’t have a crapload to face each day. You water down these teachers anymore and you will certainly see lower and lower test scores. There’s only so much a human being can do!

  5. SickofitAll Says:

    The thing that bothers me about not getting the curriculum is that the math trainings are NOT Math Expressions trainings at all…they are DMI trainings. They haven’t even talked about the purchased curriculum…so why did they need to withhold the materials?

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