Teacher comments from the surveys are now public, giving a greater window into the thinking of teachers who took the survey – which was close to 90 percent of Knox County Schools teachers. Some observations:
- “Common Core” – 169 mentions – Many of them saying that it’s a good idea, but implementation was too fast. Also common is a complaint with testing and data that came with Common Core – it’s getting in the way of implementing the programs themselves.
- “Rubric” – mentioned 146 times, followed by words like “ridiculous,” “unattainable,” “not applied consistently,” … and you get the idea. Some said that the Common Core rubric was OK in theory, but unwieldy in practice.
- “My school” – 165 times – These comments often were some variation of love-my-school-but-don’t-like-the-district. This reminds me of a common voter sentiment: “I hate Congress, but love my congressman.”
- “McIntyre” – 42 times – As one might expect, these comments were not all glowing praise for KCS Superintendent Jim McIntyre. Many suggested that he find a new job elsewhere, accused him of connections with leaders in Nashville, media and a number of other similar things. They questioned his leadership, asked him to listen and asked him to back up his words with action. There was one somewhat positive comment: “I think that Dr. McIntyre is doing his best and means well, however I wonder if his inner circle are “yes” men or shielding him from the reality.” – still not exactly high praise.
- “micromanage” – 11 times.
- “write” or “writing” – 61 times – These are all over the map. One teacher said their son wasn’t a strong writer in 6th grade, but wound up working on a second degree. Others say there’s not enough time to write, or go to the library, or that there’s too much writing and essays. Or that writing is good, but testing is not. Or that there is no time to add more writing tests. Or that young children are spending too much time writing and not enough time “being kids.”
… that last one – write and writing – started out being a search out of pure selfish curiosity. On my better days, when the barometric pressure is just so, when I have a not-too-hot cup of coffee and a full quill, I can sometimes occasionally be considered a writer. (Generally, I’m mostly a monkey with a pen). upon reading into the comments, it became apparent that teachers have their own strengths, weaknesses and opinions on how they belive is the best way to handle their classes and the personalities within them. As many appear to think that writing is good exercise as much as it seems that there are teachers who appear to believe that writing gets in the way of handling class time and their students.
Beyond that, there are themes among teachers’ comments in the survey – mostly, the wealth of testing corresponding to Common Core is unpopular, even if the intent of Common Core is agreed upon to be mostly good. And teachers generally believe their school is fine, but the district is on the skids.
What’s also apparent is the theme of hope and desire for improvement. (There are plenty of angry comments, sure, but a common desire to make things better appears to exist among commenters as well.) Teachers, like many people in life, want progress. Unlike many people in life, they tend to be the types of people who don’t mind getting their hands dirty to help things improve along the way.