Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Share and share alike?

One of the math teachers at my school who teaches a couple of levels of geometry and a discrete class is taking several (she said maybe 4) weeks off to deal with a family issue out of town.  She was in school for the first 3 days and now will be gone for however long is necessary.  Our principal has been working to find a long-term sub for her but has struggled because of the discrete.  At my school it's an honors-level class of mostly juniors and seniors who are good kids and want to succeed.  I don't know about all of you other math teachers out there, but I've never taken a discrete class and would struggle big-time to teach it, especially without any time to prepare.  The kids are pretty much freaking out that no one was there to teach them (although the teacher left notes and such, but even I couldn't figure out what was going on while reading them).

Today, my principal approached me about someone who'd applied for the sub position - it just so happens that it's my student teacher from a couple of years ago.  We struggled through the semester and it was honestly a relief when he was done.  He ended up getting a job for last year but then was let go.  He's very smart and wants so hard to succeed and connect with the kids but struggles in explaining things.  It doesn't help that the kids weren't very comfortable with him.  My principal told me that she basically felt like she had no other choice and decided to offer him the position.

So now I come to the crux of my post.  I was talking to another friend in my department; she said that former student teacher approached her today and asked if he could have copies of everything she was going to do in geometry.  Basically, she refused that but told him that there were plenty of resources around and she pretty much just follows the book.  (To stick up for her for a second: the teacher who's gone most certainly left plans/notes/worksheets/etc.  And, knowing the sub, I'm thinking that he assumed he would be given all of my friend's stuff without question.)

I'm not sure what I would have done in the same position.  How is it that I have no problem putting my stuff out on the web for everyone to see/use?  Or uploading my documents to our teacher shared drive on the school network for other teachers in my department to see/use?  Maybe it's because I'm not being asked/told to deliver them.  Maybe it's because when I share things online it's for people who are actively searching for something to do.  Maybe it's because other people are so generous in sharing with me, too.

For all of you out there who have shared ideas and materials, thank you.  I hope that I can help you out just as you've helped me.

4 comments:

  1. I'm with you here. I feel awkward when someone directly asks. I'm like, I'm not going to do your job for you. On the other hand I have no problem creating a shared folder where said person can go in, browse, and get whatever they need. I don't know the difference.

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  2. I was in almost exactly this situation last semester. I had interviewed for an open position, the school hired someone else, then that person quit after a week. The school was scrambling to fill the spot, they hired me, and I ended up starting about 4 weeks into the semester.

    It was tough. The classes were all a pre-calc kind of course, and while I'd taught calculus before I'd never taught this particular course, and I had very little time to prepare. One of the teachers at the school, who had been teaching the class for several years, gave me two huge binders with all her notes, tests, quizzes, assignments, etc., plus access to softcopies of everything, plus she was available to answer my questions (which I had a LOT of). It was a godsend; the semester was definitely a challenge, but without her help and her course materials, it would have been horrible, both for me and for my students.

    I don't understand why someone would NOT share materials with a new teacher, or any teacher for that matter. Obviously, you may not have time to personally walk someone thru everything or answer all of their questions, but what's the point in denying someone access to teaching materials that you have? Is it some kind of "I had to develop my own materials, so you should too" way of thinking, kind of like college fraternity hazing? Would you have given the new teacher the materials if you had "liked" him better?

    It may be that this teacher is not very good at explaining things, or that the kids are not very comfortable with him. The same thing could probably have been said about me when I first started teaching as well. But I know I'm a much better teacher now (and my students are much better off) because of all the time, help, and materials that the veteran teachers were willing to share with me, and I'm tremendously grateful to them. It seems to me that you have a chance to help out this new teacher in the same way.

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  3. Lance, I totally understand where you're coming from and I'm glad that there were people there to help you out. It's so hard getting started with a new course, especially when the year's already started and you don't have all of that summer time to get it going.

    This guy was my student teacher a couple of years ago - I gave him all access to what I've done in the past (and suggested things for him to do). He's teaching a couple of courses right now that I don't have plans for, so I'm not able to help him out. I thought it was rude of my friend not to help him out, yet I can somewhat understand because of the way he deals with people (in a condescending way). He has some big-time social issues.

    The big thing is that I know the teacher who he's subbing for left him plans and worksheets and everything he needs. All he should really have to do is make copies and grade what the kids are doing.

    We have a teacher drive on our network at school where some of us have placed all of our course materials - I put all of my precalc stuff on there to help out a teacher teaching it for the first time; she put all of her algebra 1 stuff on there for me. So we're not all like that with the non-sharing stuff.

    Just wanted to stand up for myself a bit there. :)

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  4. Ah, makes more sense now. Sounds like you're not leaving him without resources, but more like he's not making use of the one's he has (plus being less than appreciative). Thanks for clearing that up.

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