Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ed Notes Newark Stringer Abbie Shure on Teaching in Newark

We ended up participating in a group about assisting struggling teachers. I came out as a struggling teacher despite my advanced age... Abigail Shure
It was so nice to catch up in person at the UCORE conference with Ed Notes Newark stringer, Abigail Shure, who came over to say hello and then hung out for a few hours. Here are some comments.
As I embark on my second year of providing additional support to children at Camden Elementary in Newark, I am filled with trepidation. Last year, I filled three roles; library aide, academic interventionist and teacher of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). I had no crutches to lean on since my twenty-five years of teaching experience were in the field of English as a Second Language (ESL). Thankfully, my mother was a librarian so I grew up listening to her endlessly talking shop. I am more than capable of providing academic interventions, but how could I offer emotional support to girls with psychological issues ranging from suicide attempts to cutting? What is SEL? I quickly Googled that to discover that it falls under Psychology. If I recall correctly, I have completed a total of nine credits in Psychology over a lifetime of study. I spent six months investigating the SEL curriculum and seeking additional materials online only to be told that the the program was to be discontinued the following year. Of my three evaluations, two were Partially Effective and one was Effective resulting in an annual Partially Effective rating. This was a shonda (Yiddish for disgrace) for the person who was always the smartest girl in the class, or wanted to be.

This past weekend, I was honored to be invited by Norm to stop by the UCORE conference at NJIT. We ended up participating in a group about assisting struggling teachers. I came out as a struggling teacher despite my advanced age. Am I a district target? Am I being set up to fail in a career I love and in which I have invested so much time, energy and money in ongoing preparation? While, I was being led through the wringer, there were ESL students right in my school who were receiving no services. The message clearly was that it was preferable for them to receive no instruction than to be taught by the likes of me.

What does the future hold for me? What hoops will I be required to jump through? If I were to receive a Partially Effective designation at the end of this coming year, I would most likely be brought up on tenure charges. Am I really half way down the road to being accused of incompetence? Are the TFA and the uncertified teacher down the hall better prepared and more able? As a child, I was taught to respect elders and betters in appreciation of the trials and tribulations they had endured in their life journeys. As I approach my golden years, I have rapidly transformed into an individual lacking in skills and knowledge. How do the children of Newark benefit from the demoralization of veteran teachers?

Abigail Shure

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