Teaching Beefs to Stew Over

Today was one of those days in the teaching world where I could have seriously ended up in the blue pages.  (If you’re not from Ontario and don’t know what those are, it’s where the bad teachers go.)  Normally I pride myself in my limitless patience, but today it was in very short supply.  I had no tolerance for any student that dared impeded my job of educating.  It might be that EQAO testing is looming on next week’s horizon, or that working conditions rival those of a sweatshop in our unairconditioned school.  It might be that we’ve been busting our asses during recesses and prep time for the last month to produce the logistical gong show that is track & field day.  It could just be that it’s the end of May and I’m so f*cking tired.

Here are some teaching beefs that I angrily stewed over on my drive home (I’m never too angry for a good pun) that I thought would make for a therapeutic blog.  Below are some of the often paradoxical instructions I’ve been given at some point, in some form, by the Ministry of Ed, my Board, or my admin. These might just be the reason I’m going prematurely grey:

-Accommodate your students, but teach them independence.

-Accept all late assignments, but finish your report cards on time.

-Allow your students to do most of the talking but for god’s sake keep the noise down.

-Include that one student even if it means excluding the other 24.

-Put students first but we’re gonna put the budget first.

-Make your activities “fun” but make sure they’re productive.

-Your students can’t fail but you can fail your students.

-Create a student-centered classroom but you’re responsible for what happens.

-Don’t assign homework but cover the whole curriculum.

-Give students technology but oops it’s all broken.

-Be organized but give up your time for everything but organizing.

-Don’t penalize students for incomplete homework but sacrifice your own evenings to give “timely and meaningful feedback”.

-“Come see me” but good luck finding me.

-Use “inquiry learning” but you still gotta grade that shit.

-Motivate your students but don’t use external rewards.  And if you do, buy them yourself.

-Differentiate your lessons but standardize your assessments.

-Collaborate with your coworkers but we couldn’t fit it in your schedule.

-We have a hands-off policy except for that kid, he can do what he wants.  And that kid.  And that one.

-Write personalized report card comments but here’s six hours to do it.

-Don’t be late for yard duty but don’t leave your classroom unsupervised.

-Don’t work too hard but make sure you’re working hard when I walk in.

-Here are some awesome resources but you can’t use them because they aren’t in French (FI teachers amIright?)

-Here’s zero dollars but make sure your learning materials are engaging.

-Do quality DPA and dance in this room full of furniture.

-Teach math but don’t actually teach math.

-Don’t raise your voice but control your class.

-Teach art in one half hour with these crayons and construction paper.

-Differentiate literally everything but you can’t differentiate the learning environment.

-Fix all of your students’ problems but your professional opinion is moot.

-Create “authentic” learning tasks in this empty 12 x 10 room.

-Put these twenty-five children together in a room but make them cooperate.

-Work/life balance rah rah rah but why aren’t your report cards filed.

-Be human, but don’t be too human. You might end up in the Blue Pages.


Dunce 2












2 thoughts on “Teaching Beefs to Stew Over

  1. I was told this week, “There aren’t going to be any consequences, but he will be held accountable.”

    Reminded me of a former principal who once told us, “Punishments should not be punitive.”


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