Monday, August 18, 2008

Report from the Trenches.

Today was the first day of school. I have a full teaching schedule, which is something to wear with pride.

One of my major annoyances with the education field is that too many good teachers leave the battlefront right in the middle of the war.

This can happen in several ways. They can become professional mentors and help new teachers do do their new job. They can become consultants of types, traveling around and basically telling other teachers how to do their jobs. Or, they become administrators and enforce that teachers actually do their jobs--or something like that. :-)

The point is: they leave the classroom. The second they do, they are no longer on the front line, and their impact on students immediately is diminished. I know, we try to justify these moves, saying things like, "but this way she can help other teachers improve their classes and, in turn, help a lot of students." I think that's pretty much a load of crap.

The minute they leave the responsibilities of the classroom, their impact on the lives of students takes a huge nosedive. Something changes in their heads. They become one of "them" and not one of "us". They've left the front. They've been discharged. They've become brass.

My father retired a teacher, which is really amazing, as he's now the Village President in my hometown and seems to do well in the administrative role. He never considered leaving the classroom prematurely, however, nor will I.

Today I had three full 90 minute blocks of programming classes. That was 75 students or so--my numbers will no doubt increase to 90 by mid semester. Not all of them are easy students to teach. Not all of them are really thrilled to be in my class (yet). But, they are all MY STUDENTS. Those who leave the classroom behind can't say that anymore.

Teachers, if you are worth your weight in gold--like any excellent teacher is--please stay in the classroom. Your students need you.


aschmitz said...

You might be interested in the online version of irb (er, Interactive Ruby). You can't quite save, but it does do a bunch of neat programming stuff and is relatively similar to Python. All it requires is a somewhat recent web browser, so you're probably set. It might get you by for a few days, anyway, depending on what you're doing.

aschmitz said...

D'oh. I think I forgot to leave a link. Try Ruby! is over there. It even has a few short tutorials that might be useful. (This is from the guy who's making Hackety Hack for teaching programming.)

RichSkyline said...

Thanks. Yes, interactive web sites are a good option. For java there's

I need to put a link to Hackety Hack on my class webpage--so thanks for reminding me! Had forgotten about that project for a while.

Jackie Ballarini said...

I hope the software problems are soon fixed - like tomorrow soon. Despite the options you and Andy listed, one shouldn't have to "make do" when teaching.

RichSkyline said...

Thanks Jackie. I get frustrated and blog off steam on these things.


Tomorrow I meet my two sections of IMP2 for the first time.

Kristie and I talked about you today. If you need anything, let us know. :-)

I saw Kristie starting the High Dive unit.