We have published this Facebook post as published with permission. To listen to our exclusive interview with Tambouris, please click this link.~Publis
Does Anybody Hear Me, Will Anybody Listen?
A Second Grade Teacher’s Story from a Manchester Elementary School
By: Kelley Tambouris
Twenty-two years ago I began my teaching career. I have been a Special Educator, a Second Grade Teacher, a Third Grade Teacher, a Writing Teacher, a Literacy Coach, and now I am back in the classroom, again, as a Second Grade Teacher. Why did I become a teacher? I have a deep love of children and just knew my calling was to make a difference in their lives.
As a teacher of 22 beautifully special and unique children, it is my responsibility to do what is best for them each and every day. I can stay quiet no longer. Here is our story:
Today was the 28th day of school and I have already had to give them 8 math assessments and three half-hour to one and a half hour computerized assessments. I have been also told that I will have to continue giving them 3-4 additional math assessments each month. These are not the traditional tests teachers give; our district mandates them.
I have also been recently instructed to give each student a 150-word site word test and individual reading assessments, both have to be done 1 on 1, and both have to be done by the end of November (please keep in mind there is only 1 of me and 22 of them). With each test I have to give to 1 student at a time, that leaves the other 21 on his or her own.
In January, the computerized tests will come back, along with our 3-4 monthly math assessments, and reading tests will have to be administered again to students below grade level. It doesn’t end there either. Again the computerized tests, reading tests, and site word tests will come back around in May, keeping in mind the 3-4 monthly math tests.
Now, not only do the mandated assessments have to be given, they need to be scored, analyzed, and put into the computer. What I really need you to understand is many of these tests are above what the students know because these skills are expected to be mastered by the end of the year. Countless minutes and hours are spent with tummy aches and tears (no, not mine, the children).
I have been given a new set of standards to teach my children, they are called the Manchester Academic Standards. There is, however, a catch. In math, I have been told what standards to teach, but there was no money to buy any teachers in my school a program to use to teach. So, I have to search the Internet and work with my team to come up with papers to do with my children. Although it is a challenge, I have accepted that challenge and have been creating my own work to help the children reach these standards. A wrench has recently been thrown into my plan though. Approximately a week ago, we were sent an email stating we need to minimize run-offs because our paper supply is nearly gone and there is no money in the budget to buy any anytime soon. Our pencil supply is also minimal. Again, it is the 28th day of school.
Let me also mention part of our reading standards is to teach our second graders Fables, Folktales, and Fairytales. Again, when my team asked for books to use to teach Fables, Folktales, and Fairytales we were told these books should be supplied by the district, BUT THEY WEREN’T. How can I teach if I don’t have the materials? I know, they expect me to pay with my money.
In my classroom, most of the bookshelves, some tables, all the decorations, many of my classroom library books, many student supplies etc. were already paid for by me. I spend anywhere between $500 to $1500 a year on my classroom. When does it end?
Now, you may be thinking why don’t you just quit? Well, I go back to the beginning of my story. My calling is to make a difference in my students’ lives.
I have kept quiet and endured the public disrespect with the Union Leader and the many people that think teaching is a piece of cake. We have mandated assessments, daily planning for science, social studies, writing, Fundations, math, and reading, duties, progress reports, report cards, parent communication, sitting on various committees, hours of meetings that pull us out of the classroom, papers to correct, behaviors to deal with, minimal materials supplied to us, and professional development to maintain connected to tons of paperwork. Our workday begins at 8:05 and that is the same moment our students come in. We are given 45-minute prep periods 4 days a week and a 20-minute lunch. Students leave at 2:35 but for late kiddos we stay with them until 2:40 and walk them to the office. Our day is supposed to end at 2:50. Reality is that I am at school by 7:40ish and do not leave until approximately 4:15ish, usually with a bag of work over my shoulder to do at home, with no overtime pay.
I am angry, frustrated, but most of all sad! Sad that the system is so broken and that we are doing more harm than good!
22 one hour private sessions while 21 other kids are entertaining themselves? Yea, that makes as much sense as screen doors on a submarine.
This is insane. How do they expect you to do all that and still teach the lessons? That’s insane. With all that stress on you all its a wonder any child is learning anything. No wonder some of the teachers seem grumpy. They are stressed out!!!!
Manchester School District is BY FAR the WORST school district in NH. This teacher is over worked & underpaid & then there’s so many other overpaid & underworked teachers & non-teachers who still collect a pay check because they’re TENURED & have a union backing them up. The MSD system is broken and there’s NO hope in the immediate or distant future.
Tenure doesn’t guarantee someone getting paid for not working. Tenure just entitles them to a due process if the are being considered for being let go.
Oh no Uppity….. I know some MSD employees who do NOTHING the majority of their day and they collect a weekly paycheck. Their “tenuredness” entitles them to fleece the taxpayers of Manchester by collecting their weekly paycheck. No one says anything because they’ve been doing it so long.
That’s not on the union, that’s on the administrators responsible for those employees! No matter how long someone has been in the job, an administrator can get rid of him or her as long as they follow due process.
I teach next door to Kelley and I am beyond proud of her for speaking out in this way. We love teaching the children of Manchester but the system is so broken it leaves me crying at the end of the day most days. I also have 22 second graders with zero teacher assistant. It’s just all of them and little old me doing my absolute best through extreme obstacles. We stand with Kelley in making all of this known to the public. We are doing our best but absolutely enough is enough it’s time to put the kids first and advocate for them. -Angie Lippmann
I commend you for speaking out because the perception of teachers and what their job is really like will never change if the general public is not educated on the reality that teachers face every single day.
Teachers need to keep speaking out and keep spreading the word because the picture you paint isn’t just of a broken system it is a picture of a system that is slowly crushing the wills of educators and is bogging down teachers with mandated regulations that are not only ridiculous but also impossible to maintain over a long period of time. Insane doesn’t even start to describe the picture that was paint by the teacher who wrote the article above.
So according to the contract, you make almost $70K working 183 days. QUIT. There are hundreds, and I mean hundreds, of elementary certified teachers that would love a chance to have a job teaching. Yes, even in Manchester, and we would make half as much money.
She’s not complaining about her personal income, she writing to make it known that it’s impossible to do the job she needs to do with all of the district’s policies. It’s like running a restaurant, you can’t do it without ordering food. The district isn’t ordering enough materials for them to use to adequately teach their students. I have several teacher friends who work way more than their required 183 days because it does take time to set up a classroom, organize it, come up with lesson plans, break it down at the end of the year, etc. They go in on holidays and weekends too! Then they meet 20+ kids, have to learn their names, figure out where they are at with their learning and adjust the way they teach so most students can understand the material. As someone who was thinking about going into the teaching field and substitute taught for 2 years, it’s insane the amount of work that goes into planning, teaching and grading each student. I commend those that are doing their best to fight for the children and are giving them the highest education possible!
You evidently didn’t get her point. She’s not complaining…and it’s not about her. It’s about the kids. Because of incredibly good marketing and some major connections to the corporate machine, our schools and our kids are being scammed. Scammed into believing that testing is more important than learning. Scammed into spending an enormous amount of money on these tests…they’re not free, you know. So. Your response is indicative of a lack of basic understanding of the issues our kids are facing in a deteriorating system driven by tests…i.e. corporate interests. It not only demonstrates this, but it also demonstrates a lack of higher level thinking skills that involves synthesizing and analyzing information…not to mention a lack of the ability to use these skills to create a viable solution to a problem.
You must have a problem with comprehending things! This isn’t about her and what she makes for a salary!! This is about the kids and the fact that the ridiculous district policies make it impossible for a teacher to productively do their jobs!!
She states, “…they expect me to pay with my money…with no overtime pay…there is no money in the budget…I spend anywhere between $500 to $1500… If it were ALL about the kids why are these items even mentioned? She offers no ideas or solutions to the broken system. While I agree our school systems are broken..it appears that is not the only thing broken here.
These items are mentioned because it’s a big reason why the system is broken. Let me put it this way so you can understand…I work in an office and our office only allows us to by 10 reams of paper a year but the work I do entails 50 reams of paper. Well you can bet your ass I am not buying the other 40 reams of paper myself. Of course this is just an example, I want to make that clear so you don’t misunderstand what I am saying. This is what our teachers are having to do. The only thing broken here is the school systems. It also isn’t up to our teachers to come up with solutions to the problem. That falls to the school boards and the city officials that we elect into office. It’s not the responsibility of our teachers to buy the supplies needed to teach our children, no matter how much money they make. The other issue is that our school systems seem to think it’s more important for constant testing instead of teaching. Testing is important but not to the extant that they are going to. When testing is interfering with teaching our children that is a problem. They are giving our teachers 80 hours worth of work and they expect them to get it done in 40-50 hours, this is unacceptable!!
what a naive comment! I’d love to see you try to handle the demands placed upon educators – especially for half the amount of money. Teachers work WAY more than 183 days – and those days are WAY more than 8 hours. Get a clue!
Seems like you didn’t read the entire article or you don’t understand her message.
Maybe it’s time to stop supporting the unions (democrats) that are putting these requirements in place. Just saying!
It has absolutely nothing to do with any Union, educational or otherwise. In fact, presidents from both sides have signed bills into law that perpetuate this destructive system. It has everything to do with large corporations (Hellloooooo Pearson education!) making themselves insanely rich creating assessments and materials that are not at all based on how we *know* children learn, in order to create a constant need for more testing and more materials because students magically never ‘meet the standard’.(Hmmm, interesting, a company makes money based on people needing their materials to pass the assessments they themselves make? Thankfully there could *never* be a conflict of interest there!) Seriously, these students taking 90 minute math tests in second grade? Have these people even MET a second grader? Common Core didn’t come from Unions, PARCC and Smarter Balanced didn’t come from Unions either. If you want to solve the problem, look into how your Senators, Representatives, and Governor handle public education, not just which party they hail from. The results will surprise (and probably sicken) you.
I’d also like to thank you for having the courage to tell parents what is going on in the classroom.
We’ve been warned that under this Common Core Initiative, it’s only going to get worse.
My biggest concern is that your evaluation will be tied to these assessments. Or student progress.
This is a big part of this reform effort and it’s WRONG.
Too late, should have thought things out before they started accepting federal dollars. The school district should just turn the entire mess over to the federal government and walk away. They have deeper pockets anyways.
Do you mean 150 ‘sight’ word test?
just shows how tired she is.
Sadly, she retired because of this stuff and the fallout she endured from speaking out.
Look, not to demean someone for teaching, and I’ve been a public school teacher, university professor and medical school professor, but in public schools, teachers receive pretty good pay after working for 5 or 10 years and they have the most generous vacation policy of any profession. I had great teachers in public school when I was a student and they never complained they way they do now….and they had no teacher’s aids and extremely low pay. I have heard this story so many times in so many forums that I’m losing patience with it. It’s a good job that is sometimes challenging, but this incessant whining about over-work and testing is not attactive to taxpayers who are paying the bills. 3 months of vacation every year for those who want to take the time off and vacation or see the world….not bad! No other profession offers that. And as a teacher you have a lot of influence with a lot of people. It’s a great job with a good benefit package…so less complaining please….it’s not attractive.
The only way to solve this is: PARENTS!!!! Demand that these requirements change!