Tuesday, March 24, 2009

disturbing instruction

All I really want to do when I am at work is teach. To deliver the highest quality instruction possible. To actively engage my students and draw them in to stories. Sounds simple enough, right?

Today everyone is on the rug. The children were given a preview of the book earlier this morning and many of them are anxious to find out what will happen to the mischievous raccoon.
I have their attention. I have my materials. We should be off to a great start. Imagine my frustration then when I have just read the title of the book to the children when the maintenance crew starts drilling on my door. It was incredibly loud and I knew my students would not be able to hear me read. Why is this work being done during instructional time? Could the crew have waited until the students were at lunch or recess? Could this work have been done before or after school? I think the answer to both of these questions is yes, it could have been done at another time. Sometimes for all of the talk about teaching and learning and high quality instruction, I don't really feel as if instructional time is valued all that much. I feel that my administrators' job is to provide these people with strict guidelines about when certain work can and cannot be done throughout the day.

Instructional time is sacred, precious. There is so much valuable research on the importance of reading to children, I was determined not to let the drilling distract us. I somehow managed to line up everyone efficiently and went into the library. I was lucky that the library was empty at that time and the chairs were already set up. My students commented that they could hear better and were glad we found a quiet place. When young Pre-K students can comment on the quality of their learning environment, that is impressive.

A few pages into the book and some of my colleagues came into the library, chatting away loudly, and munching noisily on their mid morning snack. I gave my students lots of cues to focus on the book, but they were distracted by the sweet smell of coffee and doughnuts. I gave my colleagues the evil eye, but they were quite engrossed in their personal conversation. I pulled out all the stops, changing my position, my tone and volume of voice and giving the students frequent opportunities to participate. Still, I was frustrated that the very people I would expect to show some understanding and professional behavior were rude and just as disruptive to instructional time as the maintenance crew.

It probably sounds like I am whining a bit and I am honestly not trying to. But the reason why I go to school every single day is to teach. To teach each student, to give them every possible chance I can to be successful. When the administrators allow noisy work to be done during instructional time and my colleagues prattle on about their personal business when I am reading, I want to pull my hair out and go screaming from the rooftop. Teaching matters. A lot. Sometimes I wish that other people showed an understanding and respect for what I am doing, for what my kids are doing and for the effort they are making.

Tomorrow is a new, and hopefully quieter day. A new day with new opportunities for meaningful interactions and wonderfully delivered instruction. A day for excellent learning and teaching.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post. I love that there are other teachers out there who get how important what we do really is. I can't believe that not one of the other professionals gave you consideration. On the other hand, I know that you made the best of your situation and that the students got a lot out of it because of what you put into it. :)