I am a former PGCPS employee and I found your website a while back when I was searching for “Bringing Words to Life” to present to my students. The curriculum I was required to teach from was unclear of how to access half the documents and the adoption of Google Sites has led to long and difficult to memorize urls. I end up Googling most materials I need for class, but half the time it won’t appear on the first set of results.
Anyways, I was told by one of the assistant principals that she would recommend to the principal and to the county that I should leave the school. We’ve been at odds for the past week or so because I had no formal lesson plans written for my students. Nearly everyday at the school there is a random event such as a PARCC pep rally, class picture day, professional development meeting, or something that was not scheduled until the day of, making teachers completely shift their schedules around. The problem is that these teachers are departmentalized in what they teach, meaning only one of the classes of students may be affected while the other class gets their full time for whatever subject is being taught. It made it extremely difficult to teach, but I did my best to incorporate technology into the classroom, do relevant read-a-louds such as introducing I Am Malala (Young Reader’s Edition) to my 3rd graders. The text by itself is a very high level for many of my students, but I made sure to define words, draw connections, and question my students as we read along to help my students create meaning. I was discouraged from straying from the curriculum and I was told to teach exactly what was on the documents.
I attempted for only a few days before I noticed numerous typos or other inaccurate information contained within the documents. The documents also lend nothing to creativity and have a large focus on direct instruction. I tried to clarify several misconceptions for my students but the assistant principal said it was inappropriate to do so. She thought it would be better if I just stuck to what was in the curriculum regardless of whether the information is accurate or not. I’ve learned far too much about project based learning, integrated content area teaching, and student centered learning to agree with almost anything my assistant principal had stated. She believes that my students are performing poorly in large part due to me straying from the curriculum but I am not sure if she is even aware that a quick look of her son’s public Facebook page reveals that she sent her own son to private school. Not only did she sent her own son to private school, but her son has dozens of wall posts from friends talking about partying together and smoking weed in addition to number of obscenities and racial slurs.
I would prefer to remain anonymous, but if there is anything you would like to add to the blog about my experience, I would be happy to share. I would encourage you to publicize some of the elementary school curriculum and focus on some of the current inaccuracies that are contained within. For example one of the BWTL PowerPoint slides I was required to share states that emigrants only move from one part of a country to another whereas immigrants come from another country. However, a quick browse of Merriam Webster’s dictionary will tell you that an emigrant is “a person who leaves a country or region to live in another one.” This is just one of numerous mistakes I have encountered in the documents. I’ve also seen ridiculous paid positions such as “School Testing Coordinator” and I’ve been working on substitute teacher pay for the past several months despite being told I would get a full contract with benefits. I also had problems in the past with the secretary not entering in all the dates that I worked, so I had to email her four times before she finally entered in the correct dates I worked so I could be paid.
I commend you, your team, or whoever else might be writing to reform PGCPS. I was told my several close friends that I should have just been quiet and did as I was told, because it doesn’t make sense to get fired. However, I saw far too many teachers just staying quiet and that’s exactly why these problems still persist. If everyone began to stand up for themselves and protest the corruption in the current top heavy system, then PGCPS could be among the highest performing school districts in Maryland.
Thanks for all you do!