MOre Letters to Sunny

Dear Sunny,

    I'm a new teacher, just out of college.  I believe I had good preparation for teaching, but my principal is finding fault with a lot of the things I do in class.  For one thing, he says that I need to use exit tickets after a lesson.  I feel like this exercise is just a cutesy way to get the students to go through the motions of a script we've all been given.  None of my colleagues say they ever read the exit tickets they give in class, and some of them say they only assign exit tickets when they are being observed.

    All of this feels disingenuous.  Am I wrong?  

                                 - The Rookie

Dear Rookie -

     You are correct:  the use of exit tickets is a cutesy way to get the students involved.  Your colleagues are also correct:  almost no one looks at those tickets, even the administrators who use them in their PD meetings.  

    You will learn that it is best to do what your principal wants you to do, at least when he is present.    Take the time to read those exit tickets when you do give them;  they can give you information you wouldn't otherwise be privy to.  But if you over-use this strategy, it will become as stale as every other 'sliced-bread' approach that's been touted as the new best practice over the last 20 years.

     If you teach with heart, your students will know.  If you toe the line with your principal and stroke his ego, your career will also survive.

    Do the best you can for your students and try to stay sane.




Dear Sunny,

    My teacher is this really  nice lady who I can tell loves teaching.  The problem is the kids in class who don't want to learn.  Kiernan, Tony, and Nikki are always trying to say funny things.  I ignore it because I think it's stupid, but the teacher doesn't say what she really should:  "Get out if you don't want to learn."

    My  mom says she can't do that.  I say she should be able to.  What do you say?

                                   - Analisa

Dear Analisa,

     Your mom is right -- there's nothing really the teacher can do, in today's climate.  Her principal is probably suffering from the same malady that most other principals in schools across the country are suffering from:  the expectation that parents of difficult children need to be placated.  This idea has permeated behavioral expectations for a generation now, and there's little that can be done.

      You can continue to display displeasure  for your classmates and let them know you consider their performances stale at best.  You and your mother can also write a letter to the principal about your concerns and copy it to the superintendent.  You might also write a letter to the editor of your city's newspaper.  The more people understand just how much the do-nothings and their parents control educational practices these days, the more likely things are to change.

   The only way we are going to get back to a serious, learning-centered education is if we all collectively say, Enough is Enough.