Stranger in a Strange Land

08 January 2006

I've been spending part of today trying to finish my planning for a meeting on Tuesday. With all the hoopla last week, I really didn't have time to focus on future events, such as seeing my grade 6 materials' adoption group this week.

In some ways, this group really doesn't need me. They are the "gifted" version of teacher groups. They possess an intuitive grasp of how science works, they love it, they understand what it means to "teach to a standard," and they enjoy what they do. They are artists in the classroom. I think that if I just put them in the meeting room with the task of getting the sixth grade curriculum organized...and then left them alone...they could likely do a better job then with my interference.

This is because elementary is such an odd animal to me. I am learning, per the Boss Lady's suggestion. But when I meet with elementary teachers, I feel a bit like a foreigner. I have a strong background in the content. They are the pedagogical experts. Why should someone who's spent 20 years teaching third grade listen to me? I suppose that answer is a post for another time.

Back to my meeting.

The challenge this time is that there are many pieces to synthesize. There's a brand new elementary report. It's completely standards-based (no more letter grades, either) and will be at all elementaries next year. The math and reading alignments are already done---can we factor those into the science expectations? I haven't the heart to tell them that it doesn't look like there will be any money to buy the materials for next year...but how much will it cost to outfit 14 schools?! Should we attempt a pilot test of the curriculum? What should we do about staff development to help teachers deliver content in more of an inquiry mode?

It is odd to have teachers looking to me for guidance on these and other issues...especially when it's elementary teachers gazing my way. The kinds of knowledge and thinking required for my job are still pretty new to me. When it comes to taking it down to the lower grades, I really am a stranger in a strange land.

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