Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Department Meeting

Once a month the English Department meets to discuss various topics. These agenda items range from school policy change to discussions of best practices. Perhaps it is my Adult Attention Deficit Disorder that prevents me from focusing much in any meeting, but department meetings tend to send me over the edge.
When it comes to teaching English, whatever that really is, English teachers have plenty to say. Imagine what becomes of a meeting when we move from teching practices to substantial high school graduation path revisions. I will credit our school with wanting to stay ahead of the curve.
Inevitably, after a certain percentage of students fail to meet standard on the WASL this spring, actually late winter, the state will require that we do something to "fix" the problem. Our ideas are radical. Forget the idea of 11th grade English as a survey of American Literature, delving into the mysteries of Thoreau, Emerson, and Whitman. NO, those students not meeting standard will delve into 11th grade English with a survey of WASL-like writing prompts and reading selections. Imagine, a whole semester learning how to take a test--of course, we wouldn't dare lose the backdrop of American Literature!
Then, those students will take an entire semester course on How To Write the Arugmentative Paper, a 5-7 page research based persuasive essay that is a graduation requirement. These classes would not be electives. They would fill the English requirement. As a side note, if they weren't to pass the WASL on their second attempt, yes, they would re-take the class, even if they passed it once.
Now, I don't want to sound too anti-WASL preparation, but as a lover of literature, I am concerned. But what I am most concerned about is that I really don't know much about what my department head or colleagues feel about these new proposals. We spent the time trying to talk over one another while shovelling holiday cookies into our mouths between valid points.
But at least I had the opportunity to share how blogging can enhance the classroom. Please stop over at my Pre-College class (that is on the chopping board for next year).


At 9:22 PM , Blogger Mrs. N said...

You are so right about how expressive English teachers are about their jobs! We had a department meeting last week that was supposed to run from 1:30 to 2:45. The topic, handed down from the principal: of the ideas brainstormed in a previous all-school meetings, which in the list will you incorporate as a department to decrease the F-rate?

We talked just past 3:15 about the issues involved, and *then* began hashing out some measures to adopt. Sigh. Didn't get paid for overtime then.


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