Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Modified School Calendar and some guy named Steve Gill

Hosting a Talk Show Must be a Tough Job

Steve Gill is evidently some sort of talk show host on a radio station in or around Nashville TN. I've never heard him. But my sister has and she mentioned on her blog, The Median Sib, that this guy has been bloviating about the cushy job we teachers have. He was, she said, upset at the "nitwit" idea of schools going to a modified calendar in his area.

I am a public school teacher: I know about "nits". And I fancy I know something about wit as well. Don't we all.

We've been using the modified calendar for a couple of years in our school system and I think it's great. Everyone I know who is associated with our school likes it as far as I know. I have heard no complaints except from outside the system. There are those that don't like it, I'm sure, but I haven't heard them.

As the Median Sib has said, the modified (or "balanced" or "extended") calendar makes no difference at all in the number of days of paid work for teachers. I suspect the county gets a few extra days of unpaid work out of most teachers as they use some of the "intersession" time to plan for the coming quarter. I always work at least one day, usually more, of intersession on planning, etc. unpaid. I usually work 4 or 5 official winter intersession days each year teaching. I get paid a little extra for that and that's nice. I encourage my students to come to winter intersession so I can work with my own students. I know what they need to catch up on.

After spending eleven years in the "private sector" I have an appreciation for the perks, privileges, and advantages of teaching. I like teaching. But I suspect this talk-show host has no idea of the pressure, paperwork, daily preparation, and aggravations of teaching. It is DEFINITELY NOT a 9-5 job. (It's a 7:30-4 or 5; then 8 or 9 -10 or midnight, and more time on the weekends job.)

I wonder how many hours our talk show host puts in on his job per day, and year. I am not in his position and so can only guess. I would guess it's more than the few hours we hear him on the radio each day.

I suspect, though, he does not prepare a detailed plan for his hours of programming, documenting objectives for each hour, writing essential questions, showing how the listeners of different abilities, skills, and handicaps will be provided for in each part of the broadcast.

Does he gather manipulatives, set up experiments, reserve books, videos and other resources, print and organize materials? Does he create evaluations to prove that he is accomplishing his goals? That his listeners are understanding and retaining the information he is dishing out?

Does he eat lunch in a noisy cafeteria where he shepherds 25 listeners through the lunchline and has twenty minutes to wolf down his own meal before helping those 25 unruly listeners get out of the cafeteria for a fifteen minute outdoor play period that he supervises? Does he help settle who pushed whom and who does/doesn't like whom? And does he take temperatures and apply band-aids and hugs to make booboos better?

I am not sure he schedules a lot of meetings with the relatives of his listeners to give and receive feedback on how his listeners are doing.

I wonder how often he has to deal with counseling listeners who have lost parents through death or divorce; deal with little girls terrified at changes in their bodies; check his listeners hair for head lice; put up with the three elementary school "p"s - puke, pee or poop - in his studio. I could go on.

Talk show hosting has its pressures, I'm sure, but I am ignorant of them. Just as he is ignorant of, and guessing about, our jobs.

Steve, you are guessing wrong.

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