[Substitute Teachers Meeting 1973, part 2]

This tapes relates to Tape 15282. A group of female substitute teachers in the middle of a meeting, talking about teacher's issues.

00:00Copy video clip URL A woman in mid-sentence complains that she is trying, but half the people there aren’t trying. Pam Rose complains that the teachers and students alike don’t care, they both arrive just minutes before class starts and are ready to leave as the final bell rings. Where’s the commitment?

01:34Copy video clip URL “What kind of commitment do you have?” another woman asks, noting that “you’ll get screwed the minute you step out into the world and apply for a job, and you’re black or Puerto Rican?” This leads to comments about racism in reverse, whites being discriminated against. They complain about crummy teachers who don’t do their jobs. There was a black woman teaching how to use a dictionary, spelling all the words wrong.

03:40Copy video clip URL Ms. Majors notes that these are the issues people come down on teachers about. It’s a big problem. If teachers are organized, she says, they can make change as a group. But then you find that teachers aren’t committed and they don’t care and they’ve given up. People get around that these days by not focusing on the individual teacher and putting money into things like Sesame Street and other educational programs.

05:29Copy video clip URL Video stops and re-starts with Pam Rose in mid sentence about a reading teacher working with kids, using the game Monopoly to teach. Principal walked in and berated the teacher for this tactic.

06:15Copy video clip URL Sharon Karp says, “we’re letting poor administrators who haven’t been in a classroom decide what’s best to teach. They have no ideas what the problems are.” Ms. Majors reiterates, “you have to organize. You can’t make change on your own.” One woman says the way to deal with an administrator like that is to put him in his place. “I was substituting in a math class, I was given no lesson plan. The kids weren’t doing anything. The principal walks in and tells me I’m not doing a good job. I said, ‘well goddammit, man, you can’t even get your teachers together enough to leave a lesson plan. I don’t even know the students names.’ And he shrunk.”

08:19Copy video clip URL The complaints continue about where lesson plans are usually kept and teacher’s responsibilities.

09:23Copy video clip URL Video cuts. Majors is in mid-sentence about students behaving like animals. “They came in mad.” They wanted to do something the teacher wouldn’t let them do. They became irate and abusive to her. She didn’t know what to do. Others offer solutions. The note free periods are open ground for chaos. If you have students in the classroom, as a substitute, demand to have their names on a list and they should have some work to do just to prevent chaos.  One woman says the school’s job is to educate the people. Another woman responds, “but the kids don’t want to be educated.” Then maybe the problem is why is it compulsory? It’s the stupid system. If the kid doesn’t want to learn he won’t. But what about the one who does? Suggestions are offered.

14:09Copy video clip URL Video cuts. Rose is in mid-sentence talking about the attitudes of teachers. That’s the worst kind of teacher, bossy, a policeman. Majors describes how she disciplined a class by giving out a grade at the end of each day. She mentioned books she read about surviving in a classroom. Another complains that the people who wrote those books are no longer teaching,

16:00Copy video clip URL A woman notes that she was talking to someone who was shocked to hear they read out loud in the classroom instead of having the kids read at home and discuss in class. “I find the way to get a class going and get kids learning they need to work at reading, writing, answering questions. They won’t do it at home.” The group starts complaining about student excuses. One notes she had success having kids bring in stories from a newspaper to bring in and share, read in class, because the stories were relevant.

18:40Copy video clip URL Majors says kids love reading out loud. If that’s what they want to do, do it. Another woman adds she established that the kids would not be laughed at if they couldn’t pronounce a word. If I read the story to them they really liked it, but the problem was they weren’t reading, but they were learning listening skills. Majors adds the kids are still at an elementary level even though they’re in high school, so it’s a good idea. Karp says her reading lab at school works beautifully. A students gets a prescription for certain tests to take. Three minutes to do. Immediate grades.

22:02Copy video clip URL Continued discussion about reading labs. Majors says when she first saw the lab she was impressed, students were working with exercises at their level. But it’s changed. She can’t find the materials she needs. The book publishers compete with one another, trying to make more money. As a result the process of using their material is convoluted. You need a tech to help you figure it out where the material is and guide the kids. “If someone asks me to find SP2R7 I panic.” Another woman says it’s like breaking the code. That’s the fun of it. If you show the kid where SP2R7 is, he can go get it for himself next time and show the others.

25:06Copy video clip URL Another cut in mid-sentence. The women are talking about the differences in that system in the lab, some like it, others think it’s frustrating. The teacher should know the setup of the reading lab. You have to got to college for 4 years to figure out the reading lab codes? No!

26:30Copy video clip URL Women in mid-sentence complaining about who’s in charge. The program in the lab was self-functioning, the kids knew what they were doing. She wasn’t necessary. Majors says that if the kids learn their way around the lab that’s a skill in itself.

28:14Copy video clip URL Ms. Rose in mid-sentence saying one of the third grade teachers made a graph of all the third grade kids showing that all the kids knew the lab codes. Video stops and re-starts. Rose is still talking. A rule came down that every kid would have 40 minutes of basic reader instruction. The teachers thought this was the worst news possible. That’s what elementary school teachers are supposed to be doing, but the teachers didn’t want to do that. “They wanted to be in the john smoking.” Another teacher chimes in: “That’s why we have to teach basic reading in high school, ’cause they’re not teaching it in elementary school.” Another woman says her son is in a school of mostly blacks. The teacher has 25 kids a day and has them all reading the way the Bank Street Reader says to do it. “My son could have gotten the same information from me, or from Sesame Street, but he’s getting education I got about reading.” Video cuts off mid-sentence.

32:26Copy video clip URL END tape.



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