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Mysterious Teaching

Insights behind the perils of being a teacher

Is "Focus Wall" the new Buzz word?

I am so sick of Focus Wall I could choke.  We HAVE to have one for every subject area.  My kids can't find what they are looking for because there is so much stuff on the "focus wall'.  We have to put up Objectives for the day, vocabulary words, themes, genre, spelling, and much much more.  There are no bulletin boards for the fun of it.  NOOOOOOoooo!!!  Everything has to be learning.  Nothing is pretty or interesting or creative to look at.  It takes a lot of time to change things like objectives every day.  With everything else I have to do (I mean duties before and after school) when do I have the time to change things around?  Lunch time?  When do I eat or grade papers.  I spend my planning time with my team PLANNING for heaven's sake.  I thought that was why we had it.  I wish people would just let me get back to teaching and not ram their own ideas down everyone's throat.  If the curriculum department had their way we would be spending 120 minutes on Reading/Language arts, 120 minutes on Math, 60 minutes on writing, 45 minutes on Science and 45 minutes on Social Studies.  Then of course there is 35 minutes for specials and 45 minutes for intervention.  Add it up.  I don't think it can be crammed into 6 hours in the classroom.  Somehow I think my elementary math skills don't meet their expectations.
Published Friday, August 24, 2007 10:19 PM by MysteryTeacher

John Spencer said:

I have four huge paintings I made of Martin Luther King Jr, Susan B Anthony, Gandhi and Cesar Chavez.  I have, to my credit, pictures of more conservative leaders as well (such as Reagan).  I use these visuals often in class and I believe that my artwork as well as the student artwork makes for the right climate in social studies.  In more recent times, I have had teachers attack me for not having "word walls" or "academic language walls."  

Honestly, I think they are distracting.  I need students engaged actively in learning.  If they are staring at the walls and learning, I am doing something wrong.  

August 24, 2007 11:38 PM

Betty said:

We had to have something similar to the focus wall a few years ago.  It was supposed to be done for every lesson and took way too much time.  The kids rarely looked at it, and it was meaningless.  I agree with jspencer.  Too much clutter on the walls is distracting.  Also, that type of environment makes some kids nervous and unable to learn.  

August 25, 2007 7:06 AM

sellen said:

We have to display an immersion wall in our classrooms to reflect student learning.  Since it is non-negotiable, I just put up students' work when they complete it in the subject (primarily science or social studies integrated into other areas). It sdtays up until we are finished with the unit.  There is too much else to do, like TEACHING, and I refuse to stress about it. I am not going out of my way to do anything else other than hang up the student work on that board.  I always wonder why we have to display the standards so that the administrators and district people can see them on their walk-throughs. Shouldn't they know what we are doing without having the standards posted? If they are evaluating us, they should know what good teaching looks like!

August 25, 2007 4:50 PM

sellen said:

Sorry about the typo above. It should read, "It stays up". I am not a good typist!

August 25, 2007 4:52 PM

John Spencer said:

We have a Blackboard Configuration, which is equally silly.  Daily, we post the objective, the agenda, the standards, etc.  The kids only pay attention to the date and the agenda.  They could care less about the standards posted.  

To me, teaching is a sacred vocation and they are invading on our space by creating these meaningless space-wasters.  It would be like desecrating a temple or walking into a church and telling the pastor he needed to use a standardized format on the wall telling people what they will learn.  

August 25, 2007 5:57 PM

watermusic said:

"If they are evaluating us, they should know what good teaching looks like!"

Finally, someone else who thinks like me. Thank you. I was beginning to think it was just me.

August 26, 2007 6:57 AM

MysteryTeacher said:

I too am of the opinion that administrators should already know the standards and know that we are teaching them.  I think it is stupid to post them on the walls.  The kids know what we are teaching and I know so who cares if it is posted?  we are now teaching from a formula.  We are to cover certain material each week.  I used to be able to be creative and I still managed to cover the necessary goal and objectives.  Not no mo!

August 26, 2007 9:55 PM

Non Tenured Annonymous said:

I totally agree with everything everyone is saying! I'm a first year teacher, and I am starting to believe that in order to be happy and successful with my job, I have to forget my wish to be creative and I have to think entirely INSIDE the box. If teachers are just supposed to be automatons, why are we expected to have college degrees?! It's very frustrating!

August 30, 2007 9:04 PM
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About MysteryTeacher

I am a wild, whacky, weird, wonderful woman and teacher. I am venturing into a previous life by teaching ELL this fall. I use to teach ESL years ago. I am excited, empowered, and employed. I love life.