It’s Not Always Easy

Just a quick aside before I dive in: This slice is intentionally vague in some areas (names of people and programs, especially).  It’s to protect their privacy and/or brand. Well, and me.

With just a few minutes left before I was ready to head out the door toward home this afternoon, I glanced at my phone and saw that I had an email from one of the administrators in my district with whom I work on a fairly regular basis.  As a tax-season widower (which is kind of like the football-season widows of yore, but in this case my spouse is a personal income tax preparer which means I’ll see her sometime after April 15th), I still had a positive attitude toward email that late in the day since I wasn’t going home to anyone other than my dog.  

Please don’t tell my dog I wrote that.

Anyway, this administrator wanted my opinion about a question posed earlier in the day by a few of the teachers from his/her school.  Though I’m serving in a coaching position, I still view things through the eyes of a classroom teacher (at least I like to think so), so my first instinct after reading the question was to close my laptop and pretend I must have missed that email.  Most of my friends are teachers, and a few of them posed the question. They weren’t going to like my answer.

Argh.  Couldn’t do that.

If you’re just stumbling onto my website, I need to tell you that I’m composing this account as part of a daily writing challenge.  Most of my readers will be other teachers who are also writers, or other writers who are also teachers. If you’re not a teacher, or a writer, just do your best to stick with me.  Thanks.  Oh, and give writing a try–I think you might like it.

For the purpose of this narrative, I’m going to say that I was being asked my opinion about a pre-packaged writing curriculum (wink, wink…not really).  With this writing curriculum, it doesn’t take a long time to prepare for each day’s lesson.  There are videos to watch and worksheets to complete, and on some days your students will actually experiment with different writing activities.  For the teacher, it’s fairly easy: Watch the videos, hand out the stuff, and grade the papers.

What’s the problem, you might ask?  The website is filled with positive testimonials, and you’ve heard from plenty of teachers who like it.  It’s standards-based, and not really all that expensive–just a few dollars per student. It all sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

No, it doesn’t.  

And to make matters worse, if I have to explain why it doesn’t to a fellow teacher, I’m probably going to make matters worse unless we’ve got a few hours, a large pot of coffee, and an open mind in both of our heads.  

How did I respond?  In essence, I said that if you’re looking for a curriculum that doesn’t require much preparation or knowledge on the part of the teacher, it’s good. I’ve worked with this administrator for a lot of years, so I think my meaning was fairly evident.  

The truth is, I’m counting on it.

11 thoughts on “It’s Not Always Easy”

  1. I enjoyed the humor here, especially pretending not to have read the email. I also love the narrator coming through to fill in the reader. Lots of nice craft here. So true, also, about choosing to check email when you know there is nothing (well, almost – yeah, the dog had better not know) waiting at home.

    As a coach, I know the dilemma!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, I agree, you said what needed to be said in the situation while maintaining your level of respect with the admin. That’s why you were asked. It’s is tough but at the same time feels good.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooh, the tricky “be honest and make enemies or be tactful and sell my soul” question. 😬 Been there, fielded that. It looks like you found the exact balance between answering an admin question without confronting your colleagues and friends. As a teacher and as a mom whose child was subjected to those types of pre-packaged, worksheet based curriculums for his first two years of school (with disastrous results), I appreciate your post- and your stand!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve put my dilemma into great words. There are some good packages out there; there’s some good in just about all of them. But please don’t call it great teaching. Thanks for reading, and for your feedback.

      Liked by 1 person

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