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[split second of music] [split second of music] A classroom like this evokes images of a simpler time. In contrast our society worries about life in public schools today. How much do one's memories and impressions match the daily reality of American education. This program will follow three elementary school teachers through one full day of their lives. They teach in different districts - rural, urban and suburban. They teach in different types of buildings from very old to very new. And since they are at different points in their
careers and personal lives, the demands of their work affects their lives in different ways. Newark New York is a substantial village located on the Erie Canal in upstate New York and its school system, Newark Central School District, serves approximately 3000 students drawn from the village and the surrounding townships. Lincoln School which opened in 1912, is one of the district's five schools. 280 students in kindergarten through second grade attend here each day. Patch Waab is taught at Lincoln for 18 years. Lives in the country. A short drive from the village Divorced, with the youngest of her two children finishing college, Pat is one of a team of three who teach 41 children in a multi-age first/second grade class which includes a number of special education students. I decided to be a teacher because my father said that was the only major I could choose in college.
I was not supposed to go to college because back at that time, he thought women didn't go to college. I did a lot of substituting first and a lot of volunteering. Because I stayed home and raised my children until they reach school age. So I knew about teaching before and I was like a very experienced teacher before I taught in a full time permanent position. I've been interested in Multi-age for many years. This is our fifth year teaming in a multi age room with inclusion, but I think we were I think we were three years planning before we even actually started this. So we're looking at about eight years at least and I was thinking about it long before that. Because of which teachers were willing to give us a try. We just fell together. Our personalities are all very different but we complement each other. Like many school days this one begins with a meeting before school.
Today the second grade teachers are learning about new methods to evaluate reading. But Pat will have to leave early because she has bus duty. A lot of my students are needier today than they used to be. But some of my students are starting kindergarten. Not really being ready to learn. And so we've had to back up and make sure that we give those students that background of experience so that they are ready to learn what we need to teach them. Some of my students are very poor. And I don't remember it. I don't remember it being such a struggle years ago. Pat's teammates are Cathy Chambers a regular education teacher like herself and Meg Kane a special education teacher. Teaching on your own, you're, you just don't have that opportunity to talk with somebody else and to run ideas by somebody else as quite as often. [Another speaker]: We have done a lot of curriculum writing to make the multi age idea work and fit our district curriculum.
Cathy and Meg take turns being lead teacher, beginning each day with the entire class together. Wednesday March 24th We no longer sit in rows of desks fastened to the floor. Oh there's a lot more movement in the room and there's a great degree of independence. That our students are expected to have today. But what we can do while we're waiting is we can talk about the two different versions of Cinderella that we read. The standard certainly has affected what we do and I mean it's going to keep on affecting. We've already made some changes you know towards that direction and I think I'm sure we're going to have to make more. The district's been very supportive in that way. I also have some other assistant time that I didn't have before as a regular second grade teacher. And. Anytime I can get some extra hands and the people are as good as these people are they know what they're doing. You know it's going to
enhance my teaching and the kid's learning. We call her grandma she is a grandma to the kids. It's a Foster Grandparent program. And she's with us every day. She's been with us for years. [Host]: The students go off to library and gym, giving the three teachers a few minutes together. They check email and return phone calls and they catch up on a new hearing aid system for one of the children. That's just a (unintelligible). But there's no top Mike. There was a top Mike in the last one. We have to wear the mic. The students return. Giving Pat time to work with individual students before lunch. (Ambient Sound) Lunch comes and goes quickly and is followed by Math. It will be a triangle, square or a circle. That's the shape attribute. And it might be big and it might be little and that's the size
attribute. Wait 'til I call on you. You can put your hand right up though. [Student]: I want to be the first one! [Teacher]: Maybe you can be another time. [Children arguing] All the, all, excuse me Dori, all the people who wanted to be Dori's person, who want to be up there keeping score just raise your hand so Star can see. See all those kids who want to do it too, Star. Now if you have a fuss, you won't be able to play the game at all. A color, a shape and a size, and I'll see if it's in here. And if it is I'll put it up for your team. OK, go ahead. I want it to be blue, a square, and big. Got it. I've really had to, um, look at my strategy for teaching, because some of my special needs students. It's not that they don't they don't learn in a traditional way. I have had to add to my instructional toolbox. To be able to meet the needs of more students who might have different needs and I think it's made me a better teacher.
Write that on your board and then go ahead do your answer. Chris I'm only going to have you do a couple problems I just want to check it and then you can go ahead and you know go on to the net OK? The technology with computers has been tremendous. We just got the internet here and it has opened up some possibilities for research that my students really haven't had before. The other thing with the computer was the ability to publish our writing. My math students now can go to the computer for both vertical and horizontal enrichment. Sarah we'll see you tomorrow. The class is ending, but not the teacher day. There are two more meetings this afternoon before Pat can begin preparing for tomorrow. The first meeting was a meeting about a student that I have who's classified. And so she has some special needs she has a one on one teacher assistant. And we meet every other week just to kind of keep a handle on how are things going.
The second meeting is about renovations that will happen in this building. So we're gathering some information about what the needs will be for a classroom. When she gets home Pat spends time with her many animals. I am blind with my animals. Riding the horse, and not just riding a horse, just being with a horse, grooming, riding when I can get a chance to do it, trying hard hard to squeeze the time. But I've got a couple dogs at home. They're fun. I like being outside. [Host]: Most nights, Pat will spend one to two hours on her schoolwork. [Pat]: I do a lot of planning. I do professional reading. Sometimes it's just, um, sitting and thinking. You know, how do I want to do this, how do I want to organize it. Following the Erie Canal west one comes to the city of Rochester, New York with 37000 students and 68 schools, Rochester is a large urban district.
Number 17 School has occupied several buildings since it first open in 1852, but this same school bell has been summoning the children for generations. The current building opened in 1968. Over 800 students from preschool through fifth grade attend and the population is diverse with students from many nations. The school also has the sobering distinction of having the highest poverty rate in the city. Over 98 percent of number 17 school students live at or below the poverty level. Not so long ago Andres Cruz used to walk to the school, but now returning as a first year teacher, He drives. He is keenly aware of the significance of this transformation. He teaches a fifth grade class with 26 students. The fact that I teach at the school that elementary school that I actually attended, you know, is an honor. I decided to become a teacher in high school actually. I couldn't picture myself doing anything other than teaching. And I've worked hard to get here.
I absolutely love standing in the classroom, Helping children, influencing children. Being a positive role model for children who need role models in the city. I want them to have memorable experiences. At this age, especially in this neighborhood there is so much that children are lacking. As a student there was so much that I didn't get at this age and that's what I want to give them. And that's what you know I want to show children that. You know if I if I grew up in this neighborhood and I grew up in similar conditions that that they did. And I went on to college and I went on to become a teacher then then they can be anything they want to be. I want to see everyone working. You need to help each other. Feel free to ask someone sitting next to you. I love the way Candace is working, Ra'quan is busy working, thank you Ra'quan. Appreciate it.
Thank you Stuart. I could read as many books as I can on educational philosophies and it's not actually the same as coming into the classroom. The actual application of what I learned is different and more difficult. And this month we'll be doing a lot of learning about American women, famous American women, American women pioneers. We'll be learning... My classroom has quite a few ethnic backgrounds. I feel that recognizing. Each child's - you know ethnic background can only help them in gaining self esteem. I recall as a child growing up me being you know Hispanic American. And every time that a teacher said a Spanish word or I had a picture of a Hispanic American role model my self-esteem would grow and I would think more positive. And I felt more comfortable being in the classroom.
Pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. Now what I want you to do is to write a headline like a newspaper headline the headline is supposed to catch your eye when you read the newspaper. It's in big bold letters. And we're going to take the pretense I'm going to give you the spelling list and you're going to be able to correct your own words. I'm very aware of the fact that this country has been getting very strict on standards. The students have to meet the writing and criteria and pass the exam to go on to middle school. What I do is I stress writing. I integrate writing with Math. I integrate writing with Social Studies. We're going to start Math. How you doing. I'm a strong advocate for involving the parent in the classroom. I've made several home visits to parents. This is the first year that we've started the school wide code of conduct. But, there has been
decrease in suspensions and in fights. I have a respectful way of approaching discipline. I don't yell at children. Yes children are small, but they don't have small feelings, they have big feelings and the least thing I would ever want to do is is hurt a child's feelings. Good because you divide in the number that you get is 7 so 7 is the mean. See this isn't that tough. Andres uses his lunch period to prepare for the afternoon. Computers [um] supplement and and you know they reinforce what students learn in the classroom. It's almost like like a second teacher or like a tutor. Everyone have a good evening. Be careful. Walk safe.
The fact that students are impoverished does not equal. No performance or or no achievement. That just means that we need to be more and more determined to catch up. In Rochester master teachers mentor beginning teachers. Andres meets regularly with his mentor Bonnie Shirley. At five o'clock Andres leaves school and goes to the Baden Street Recreation Center Boxing Gym where he has a very special distinction. A champion amateur boxer he recently won his sixth New York State Golden Gloves boxing championship. I've been an amateur boxer for the last 10 years. I had an uncle who was a professional boxer and so he would go to the gym and and my brother and I, me 12 my brother 11, would you know drag along. At that age we were in beginning middle school. It kept us out of the streets.
I began to compete. I traveled you know all over the world. And the coach was always instilling discipline. He teaches that school was first and that boxing was a way of getting out of the streets. Fifth graders that I have. They're in an age where they want to spend time out you know in their neighborhood and knowing the neighborhood that we live in in this community where where you know crime exists. My very own students come to the boxing gym and I tutor them. And at the same time I coach them I teach them boxing skills so I'm teaching life skills and I'm teaching boxing skills. And they're staying they're staying busy. They're not thinking about you know going to the street and getting in trouble. I go home and I have all 26 students on my mind. The children are very needy.
And I have to be a teacher and I have to be a parent and I have to be a counselor simultaneously. I spend many hours, you know, at home on lessons. I'm here you know for them. And I want the very best for them. [Host]: Continuing further west on the Erie Canal one comes to Brockport. This rapidly growing district of 5000 students is housed on a single one hundred twenty two acre campus with five schools. Hill School built in 1990 is home to almost 900 elementary students in third fourth and fifth grade. It's still dark this winter morning as Mary Wonzer's family begins their day in a restored 1824 home in Brockport. A 26 year veteran Mary has taught in Brockport most of her career. Married to Darryl, a teacher in the nearby district, their three children attend the Brockport schools. Whitney will ride to school with her mom, the two older boys will head out a little later. On a
typical day, Mary who teaches 26 fourth graders, arrives at school two and a half hours before the day formally begins. She spends that time setting up for the day, talking with colleagues, attending meetings, and focusing the eager energy of the many students both current and past who arrived early to help her. When I was in college I took education really as a minor. It wasn't anything that I thought I wanted to do. And when I had my participation experiences in college and my student teaching experiences I was hooked. And I knew what it was, it was for me. In the beginning, I knew that being involved in children with children was the most important thing. And they are constantly a source of joy. The thing I didn't know is teaching is a never ending job. There's never any closure on it. When you're with the kids that you're with, you're with them for a time and you hope that you can give them the skills and what they need to be successful. But the chapter never ends. You never quite feel like it's closed
until they're grown up, you see them again and they're successful. If you're gonna offer kids a lot of activities, they need some room to move to. In other words I can't just sit at a desk because there's movement. So a combination of tables and desks and lofts and couches kind of lend themselves to that more center approach. I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the Republic [unintelligible] question is Taz is swimming in the African Sea at 20 degrees north latitude and 40 degrees. Chris focus here. ...east longitude where in the world? [Host]: Mary's class moves eagerly through their school work. [Teacher]: ...multiplication means. This game is going to help you guys understand it better. Then we're going to move from the game into the book I want you to do it with your learning partners. Raising standards
always is is a good idea. The reality is, you have this much curriculum and this much time and I know that all teachers sometimes feel they just can't get this amount of curriculum into this amount of time. Now I want you to take a look at this this is a science poster of the week and we're going to use it for something else we're going to use it for writing a description about the picture and what we want to do is go through a descriptive paragraph, a real short one so that you have some idea when you're And I know at our school system, technology has had a major impact on teachers and students and it's been a wonderful positive thing. If kids are going to utilize the computers they have to be on the computers. For them, to be with me in a lesson no one would be on the computers virtually all day long. So it really comes down to, like with a band lesson, kids who are on the computers are
responsible for making up the work, if they miss. School is a home away from home. And just like we at home have animals: cats dogs birds, pets, lots of classrooms have different pets. The kids love it just like they would a pet and for a lot of kids it does help them focus. For a lot of kids it helps them not focus. [Host]: The class heads to music, and Mary has plans for every moment. [Teacher]: Kimmy, I'm going to go get the stuff out of my mailbox cuz I have two phone calls that I have to do. And if you want to grab those papers, the math papers, and see who, you know, go through them and correct them. It started really a long time ago when basal readers were in and I called kids up for what was then a reading group, and kids moaned and groaned and my heart broke because reading is something that I truly love. And so I really gave it a long hard look at what I was doing. And I thought, I need to offer kids choices. So I started really buying
trade books and I still wanted to kids to be accountable for the reading. And so every time I would buy a trade book. I'd read it and I'd make up the comprehension questions and I'd put it out for kids. Well it's just grown to the point now that I have thousands of books. I have thousands and thousands of questions that I can ask kids and it's been a real successful approach. I think number one, it's individualized. Number two it's self motivating because kids can choose what they want to read and it doesn't matter if you're reading a second grade level or third grade level or fourth grade level. I have the book for you. In any classroom there's a huge range of kids. There are kids who are really struggling with math skills, reading skills, and then there are kids far on the other end who who really need to be challenged all the time. We try to give lots of one to one experiences with extra tutors extra help. In Brockport I think we're really fortunate. We have this wonderful college here who a lot of the the students that go to that college are interested in education. The one girl that
was there today whose name was Kim. She's a student that I had in second grade just a few years ago. And Kim is taking my class and helping in my class as an independent study. Kelly, who's another Brockport student, is a Reads America volunteer which is a wonderful program. Morning classes end, the class goes to lunch. After lunch, Mary relaxes the class with a story before they resume their lessons. Do you think Firebreather can beat them all? "Somebody has to win," says Aunt Harriet. "Might as well be us!" And we're off. We talked about circuts... [Host]: After science, it's recess, and then back to work. [Teacher]: I want independent time to be really quiet. I want you guys to be really focused on what you need to be doing. And I'm going to let kids go if they can tell me what they need to be working on. Goal sheets started a long time ago when the hardest part for me as a teacher was what I call wait time. And one kid is finished with this task in 30
minutes and this other kid is finished with this task in 10 minutes. The goal sheet tells every kid what they can do, and then it offers them options of everything that is there to do. [Host]: The day finishes with a brief class meeting. You want to make sure that you go through this and that you hand in the things that you need to do. [Host]: And an affectionate dismissal. [Teacher]: Goodbye! Go! I'll catch you tomorrow. [Host]: Back in her room, more students both current and past wait for a little more of Mary's time. Then, Mary heads for one and a half hour yearbook meeting. Mary finally heads home. The family eats an early dinner, and everyone heads off. After chauffeuring children, Mary begins what she calls the part 3 of her job. You have your book there? OK. Let's go over. Tell me about Rafael. The work load is amazing. That isn't something that I think any student teacher anticipates. You can only be caught up 'til 9:02, when those kids walk in the door, and then it starts all
over. Because I don't correct papers when they're there. I wait till I'm home to do it because I figure there's...they're there, I am there, it's teaching time, it's not correcting time. I stay up 'til 11, 11:30, and that's my normal schedule and I really don't need a lot of sleep so that I have that, that end time to really sit down and to get my schoolwork organized. [unintelligible] go to school at night. Teachers go on weekends. My favorite story is I was there on a Sunday at 2 o'clock standing in a line at the Xerox machine.
School Days
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WXXI Public Broadcasting (Rochester, New York)
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Chicago: “School Days,” WXXI Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 20, 2022,
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APA: School Days. Boston, MA: WXXI Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from