Friday, September 7, 2012

CPS Guide on how to babysit students when you are not really a teacher. Laugh or cry? You be the judge!

Sometimes blogs just write themselves and this might be one of those times...

A couple of colleagues of mine shared this Sun-Times article with me.  I usually do not just "cut and paste" news articles, but this one seems too good to pass up.  I, of course, will interject where I see fit. My comments are made in red.  

 If this weren't so sad, this would be hysterically funny!

CPS’s How To Guide for workers at strike contingency schools

A guide to manning Chicago strike-contingency schools released Friday advises non-teachers to bring their own food, carry a watch because their classroom may not have a clock, and load up on 30 sharpened pencils and a pencil sharpener.  [Welcome to the life of a teacher...and this is just the beginning.}

In one tip, non-teachers are told that when they “correct’’ a student, they should do so in a “15 second one-way communication,’’ delivered within 3 to 4 feet of the student, but to “move away from the student 1-2 seconds before finishing."  [What could possibly be the reason for this?  Could CPS students be dangerous, disrespectful, scary at times? OR does it take a trained professional to deal with young people of various ages with hormones raging through their bodies?!]

“If you don’t you may invite a negative response,’’ according to the “Children First Site — Student Supervisor Toolkit.” [Of course if you say or do something the children do not like you might possibly get a negative response.  Welcome to the "REAL WORLD".  Welcome to being a "RESPONSIBLE ADULT".  We've been in school one week and I've had a few students already display faces with a "negative response"...obviously, I am doing my job.  It's just like being a may not always be fun, but if you are doing what is BEST for the child, you have nothing to worry about.]

Chicago Teachers Union spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin Friday tore into Chicago Public School proposal to man 144 schools in the event of a strike with non-teachers, saying the “Children First” plan amounted to “a train wreck.” [This sounds accurate!]

The Chicago Public Schools have asked teachers not to picket at the 144 schools for the sake of the children, a request flatly rejected by CTU President Karen Lewis.
She told the school officials if they don’t want picket lines at those schools, then don’t open them. [This is just hilarious.  If CPS is so worried about "the children" they would not have just willy-nilly deemed a longer school day, but they would have made it a better most schools that has NOT happened.]

Gadlin Friday released the “tool-kit” that she said was being given to non-teachers CPS hoped to use to watch children at what Gadlin called “holding centers.’’ She likened the tool-kit to a “how-to-be-a-teacher strike guide.’’  [Holding Centers??? Sounds like Holding Cells]

Among its suggestions on “how to prepare:”

• “Wear a watch — your room may not have a functioning clock.’’  [If a teacher said this, they would be considered a nag and cry-baby, but now it seems to be important.]

• Dress comfortably as “many schools are NOT air-conditioned.’’ [ Many Track E schools have been sweltering since mid-August with no air and since Tuesday most Regular track schools have been sweatin' for 7 straight hours a day...but since so many schools do not have functioning clocks, maybe they didn't realize how miserable it's been.]

• “You will need to bring your own breakfast and lunch. Please note that you cannot rely on access to refrigerators or microwaves.’’ [I almost have tears in my eyes from the laughter. No one ever considers if the teachers have access to these things and we work a "full school day".  Now, personnel will be in the building for 4 hours and their eating habits seem to be top priority.]

• “Keep personal items to a minimum.’’ [Things that make you go, "hmmmm???? I wonder why this it?]

• Sessions for kids run from 8:30 to 12:30 but “you should arrive as early as possible” and be prepared to stay late. [Really??? You should be expected to come early and stay late?  I wonder if they get paid for such duties.  Teachers are expected to do that daily with no thought to their own personal time or compensation.]

• Bring 30 sharpened pencils, 30 pens and a personal pencil sharpener. [No supplies at the school??? You're kidding, right...NOT!]

• Bring “stickers or other small inexpensive incentive items.’’ [Digging into your own pocket for school items...Stickers are an easy one (and quite inexpensive).  Now let's make a list of the hundreds of dollars teachers spend each year "out of pocket" for their students and classrooms.]

• Bring old magazines and newspapers, puzzles and games. [No books in class, not enough do you keep 30 children on task without them getting into trouble?  It should be easy, right??? Teachers do it EVERY DAY!]

Non-teachers are given a long list of things to do ahead of time to prepare. They should: study and “internalize’’ recommended classroom management techniques; determine their classroom procedures and “practice explaining them,’’ create a Day One sample schedule, write a supply list and collect it, and “attend trainings.’’ [I thought anyone could be a teacher?  This almost makes it sound like a job that takes training and skills, education and experience??? ]

To “create a climate of respect,’’ the tool-kit recommends that non-teachers “communicate with words” and “do not yell, threaten or insult, even if joking.’’ [This is a learned skill in and of itself.  The rapport you have with your students is very important.  Notice I said "your" students.  These non-teachers are going to be looked upon as just that...non-teachers...they have no connection, commitment, or real investment in these children.]

And to make students feel comfortable, they should appear “confident and calm by being firm but friendly. You can accomplish this by writing a general schedule on the board.’’ [This is a good one. You can appear "firm but friendly" by writing a schedule on the board. If only teaching was that easy. It's not like the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams,  "if you build it, they will come"..."if you write it, they will do it"...that is just naive!]

For third- through eighth-graders, non-teachers are urged to walk students in two single files in the classroom, and “greet each student with a smile and a handshake as they enter.’’
As a “get-to-know-you” game, non-teachers are advised to model a “two truths and a lie’’ game, in which participants share three facts about themselves and students have to guess which one is a lie.   
Games to be played during physical education include Simon Says, Farmer in the Dell, Mother May I and Four Corners. [I wish I could be inside to see this take place.  I'd love to see people from Central Office playing Mother May I with 13 year olds.]

Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard has said that Children First sites will be manned by principals, assistant principals, Central Office Staff and non-CTU employees, as well as yet-to-be-approved vendors.

Officials with the Service Employees International Union that provide custodians, school bus aides and security staff have said they will honor their contract and could work, if asked.

[If there is a strike and this plan has to actually be implemented, in the least it should be worth a good laugh, at best...maybe, just maybe... the powers that be will gain some respect for teachers that do this job every single day.]

Copyright © 2012 — Sun-Times Media, LLC


  1. Thanks for posting this info. Amazing how all the hard work and important things teachers do is taken for granted. I wonder if the powers to be know that the next President, CEO, teacher, plumber, criminal, etc. may be sitting in these classrooms. Yes, it's THAT important! Teachers make that big of an impact, as I have written in my blog. Ask any successful/happy individual and I guarantee you that they will have a story of a teacher that had a major impact on their lives. Good luck and stay strong!

    Paul R. Hewlett

    1. Thanks for reading this Paul! I have a handful of teachers that stand out in my mind and the positive affect they've had on my life. Through all of this nonsense, I am happily reminded why I do this job. It's certainly not for the money or recognition and certainly not for the politicians, but it really is for for the kids. When something as simple as having a student come back and tell me that because of me she was able to go on and pass high school algebra, it makes it all worth it. And you are so right...these children really are our it plumber, doctor, author, garbage man, or President. We all should really want what is best for them.

      I know I did not write this quote, but I will repeat it...WE LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES!