What paperwork?

You ever notice that a lot of teachers complain about paperwork? What, exactly, are they complaining about?

I’m not questioning their truthfulness. I just wonder why I’ve now worked in four different districts (including student teaching), and never see any paperwork. I’ve had a weekly attendance audit, that I sign and date. Periodically I get an IEP form from a special ed teacher (now there’s a teacher with paperwork, but they don’t have much in the way of classes), and I email comments.

If I include online activities as part of paperwork, then I have attendance and updating the online grading system. Setting up the online system is only onerous if I get behind, and that’s usually on me.

Teachers aren’t complaining about grading, are they? I don’t grade homework or classwork; I give kids points for working or completing homework. So the only math I grade is tests and quizzes, which maybe takes up 6 hours a month. But grading isn’t paperwork, is it? It’s assessment. Paperwork means formfilling and mundane information collection demanded by outside forces, right?

I read about districts that require teachers to have daily or weekly lesson plans. I would never work in such a district by choice. I don’t write lesson plans. I find it astonishing that anyone does unless they’re being evaluated, which is like making sure you don’t roll too aggressively through a stop sign during a DMV test. Even then, if I worked at such a school, I would quickly figure out a way to fake it, because seriously, such a requirement is deeply lunatic.

So are all the teachers complaining about paperwork being forced to submit daily or weekly lesson plans? If so, I can at least see the problem. Most teachers are the sort of people who do homework, so they probably take the requirement seriously, instead of phoning it in.

If not, then what are they doing that I’m not? Because I really don’t see the paperwork burden of the job.

added 11/26: CPS Teachers can gripe about paperwork.

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About educationrealist


13 responses to “What paperwork?

  • Eric

    What are your thoughts on the NAACP complaint challenging the SHSAT entrance exam for NYC specialized high schools as racially discriminatory?

  • Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher

    BTSA, baby! Now there’s some paperwork! 😦

  • mr. wild

    Sounds like you are in a slacker district. You don’t have all the lessons for the week laid out on Monday? Pretty lazy if you ask me. Any teacher who isn’t more organized than their own students doesn’t deserve their respect.

    • educationrealist

      Wow. A lot of bizarre assumptions in there.

      1) I have my plans roughly “laid out” in my head, but no, they aren’t written in stone. I’m not that sort of teacher. I’ve written before that many teachers are highly structured, and certainly most ed schools teach that planning IS teaching, but I vehemently disagree, and said so in ed school. Teachers who equate planning with teaching are a bit rigid, for my tastes.

      2) I build a lot of my own handouts and have three preps. That’s not lazy. Besides, why is it any more “lazy” to evaluate your students’ progress at the last minute than stick to a plan written five days earlier and refuse to budge?

      3) Organization and the desire to organize is a personality trait, not a moral attribute. People who think otherwise are moralizing pains in the asses. And a bit rigid, for my taste.

      • mr. wild

        I’d say I”m not rigid, either. Since I’m certified in English, Chemistry, French, Biology, Electrical Science, Environmental Science,History, and Theater, I think I can speak a bit about teaching different subject matter and to different kinds of students. There’s plenty of flexibility in what I do, and I’ve spun entire class periods, and in 90 minute blocks, that’s a good amount, on directions that students took.
        Nonetheless, backward planning is essential, and students should know where they are headed. They have every right to know what they are doing. If I make changes, it’s in response to them, for good or bad, and I’m frank with them what the reason for the change is. And to be honest, if you’ve taught low income NAM’s for 15 years, you see why that’s important.
        I used to do 6 preps a day, so I feel you. Sorry if I was harsh.

      • educationrealist

        I have credentials in math, history , and English, so I know as much about different subjects as you do. And backward planning is not the same thing as lesson plans. You might want to learn the difference. I know where I want to end up. I simply don’t see the value in writing it down, or in deciding what exactly I want to teach the next day until I know how I did that day.

        Like most rigid people, you don’t know the difference between knowing what you want to do and having a PLAN.

  • mr. wild

    I know the difference, hoss. There’s a thing called accountability. By writing the lessons on the board, and documenting them, everyone in the accountability zone-teacher, student, prinncipal, and parent – knows what’s going on. I call it the “excuse-free zone”. So start educating, Esme.

    • educationrealist

      How many nonsequiturs could you fit into one paragraph?

      Who said anything about “excuses”, and what on earth do “excuses” have with publishing lesson plans a week in advance? They are unrelated concepts.

      You don’t write “lessons on the board”. You write what you’re going to do that day. So do I. It’s not a novel concept. Nor is the term “excuse free zone”, which was hackneyed and pathetic the first time it was used, some 30 years ago.

      There are certain groups of teachers who give the whole profession a bad name. The moralizers like you are among the worst. If you’re what a teacher is, no one wants the job. So stop using my blog for a megaphone. Create your own.

  • Doing Distance « educationrealist

    […] few days ago, an a**l obsessive overly rigid teacher called me lazy for not having weeks of lesson plans written in advance. I am usually pretty nice to commenters […]

  • Paperwork « teaching in public

    […] this morning I read this post from educationrealist: What Paperwork? and I realized I am one of those teachers who complains about paperwork.  But I actually have to […]

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