As you may well know by now, I am teaching in an Open Court district. This means that for whatever reason, somebody down the street at the district office decided that OCR is the solution to all of education’s problems. Forget the fact that 90% of our students are English Learners and OCR’s ELD program is practically nonexistent. Ignore the idea that OCR does not allow for reteach time at all. Turn a blind eye when you realize that quite a few things in the curriculum aren’t even standards based.
No, folks, OCR is clearly going to solve our problems. Even though, after a number of years being implemented in Alum Rock, it hasn’t. This is not due to the shortcomings of the curriculum (which I don’t even think is all bad- it just needs supplement.) No, the reason that Alum Rock is still a PI district is because the teachers aren’t implementing OCR faithfully.
So, to solve this terrible problem, about once a semester somebody from the district office comes in and tells us all the reasons why we suck at teaching OCR. (Never mind actually supporting us and helping us get better. Nope, we have to figure it out on our own and then listen to them berate us when we have failed in their minds.) Today was one of those days.
OCR time (which we lovingly refer to as “sacred time”) goes from 9:00-12:05. These days, I haven’t been starting until 9:15 because I’ve been doing a much more rigorous morning math meeting, which is actually quite effective and my kids really love. So, when the OCR police (whom I wasn’t expecting until after recess) walked in at 9:12 and I was just finishing up my math meeting I about had a heart attack on the spot. I knew what this could mean in terms of my career and also in terms of how much they will bother me later. So, I rushed my kids through the end of the math meeting and got ready for blending (a.k.a. sounding out words). I opened up my TE as fast as I could and started the procedure. The kids were well-behaved and engaged in the lesson, so that was good. But, about halfway through the lesson, I noticed the OCR police in the back of the room flipping confusedly through their own copy of a TE. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was until I glanced back at my own book- and realized that I had opened to the wrong page. I was using the blending words for next week’s lesson, not this week’s. Well, after the alarm bells going off in my head subsided, I figured I was already screwed enough as it was, and I would look like an even bigger idiot if I tried to go back to the right board at that point. The OCR police left the room with very disappointed looks on their faces.
After they left, I closed and locked my door and had a very honest conversation with my students about what we’re learning in second grade and what had just happened. I told them that I probably was going to get into trouble because I had made a mistake and opened to the wrong page in my teacher book.
Them: But everybody makes mistakes!
Me: I know, but they expect teachers to be perfect all the time.
Them: But that’s silly! We make mistakes on our homework and stuff and it’s still ok!
Me: I know, but I was teaching you the wrong words for this lesson.
Them: What’s the big deal? They’re only words.
Their logic is so simple. It pleases me. I only wish that the OCR police could see it from their point of view. I am bracing myself for the wrath tomorrow.
23 instructional days until the CST. I am not quite sure we are going to make it.