Went from teaching to the students to teaching to the test.
The book publishers, the test publishers, and the downtown bureaucrats who have no contact with the schools tell me what to teach, when to teach it, how to teach it, and for how long to teach it.
They tell me how much time to devote to each skill, and even if the students do not master or even understand the skill I must move on.
The homework and classroom follow-up to the lessons—insufficient as they are—come from the book publishers. When I first started to teach we used books and papers and pencils, and I made transparencies and charts.
The workbooks and photocopied work costs millions more than papers that students write on. As an example, in the despicable Open Court, third grade students had to punctuate sentences with dialogue. Previous to that, I would have the students create their own sentences with dialogue on lined paper and punctuate them
For Math I used 5-6 textbooks so that the students got sufficient practice and mastered the skills and learned their timetables.
Now the class next to me, which is on the same grade level, is being taught the same lessons at the same time in the same manner as one size fits all students.
Early in my career we gave one test at the end of year and spelling tests on Fridays. (You remember proudly bringing home your graded spelling test.)
Now the tests are endless and they keep adding more. Any guess how many millions are spent by LAUSD on tests and test preparation materials each year?
Any guess on how many hours each LAUSD student spends each school year taking the tests? Those hours could be used for enrichment and challenge, remediation and review to mastery and even a little fun.
The term teacher does not describe me anymore. I am neither an educator nor a teacher.
I am a test proctor, an uncreative follower of instructions.
In truth I am an instructional robot and so are all of my colleagues.