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Diary of a Teacher in Poland


rozumiemnic 8 | 3,720
5 Sep 2017 #31
Critical Thinking

seems to be a sore lack of it tbh
Ironside 49 | 10,106
5 Sep 2017 #32
It's a serious initiative, happening in the US and in the UK.

It a sick, disgraceful action motivated by the progressive ideology aimed at undermining and destroying western civilization. Those who promote it in schools should be flogged and run out of a town adorned in tar and feathers.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,720
5 Sep 2017 #33
flogged and run out of a town adorned in tar and feathers.

lol nice to see someone agreeing with me but it seems a bit .....extreme...
Teachers in the UK at least are not given any choice. they have to agree with any boy who 'feelz' like a girl using the girls changing room. If the girls dont like it, then they have to get changed in the toilet. If they object vocally then they are called disgusting bigots.
mafketis 23 | 7,867
5 Sep 2017 #34
Drag artists are the gender equivalent of white artistes 'blacking up' to mock black people.

Drag artists (who realize and don't deny they are men) are about making fun of men, not women.

But I agree with your general TERF stance. I support a lot of second wave feminism but the third wave has completely wrecked it and I don't even recognize mainstream feminism _as_ feminism anymore.

I stumbled on some radfem videos on youtube and listened compulsively for a few days. I disagree with a lot of what they say but at least they say it clearly without all the whinging and wining and moping that characterizes the third wave....

I'm all for recognizing the human rights of trans people but most of the trans agenda is not about that.
Ironside 49 | 10,106
5 Sep 2017 #35
Drag artists

Drag artist are harmless but belong on a stage or in clubs for adults not in school.

any boy who 'feelz' like a girl using the girls changing room

Sure, plenty of men would use that ruse too in any changing room for females.

I'm all for recognizing the human rights of trans people

Hmm ....how about those who believe to be Napoleon or Martian. Should they have rights as well/
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,720
5 Sep 2017 #36
.Trans people have the right to not be attakced and deserve the full force of the law behind them,like anybody. Other than that....hmmm.

stumbled on some radfem videos on youtube

not the wonderful Magdelena Berns by any chance?
mafketis 23 | 7,867
5 Sep 2017 #37
Drag artist are harmless but belong on a stage or in clubs for adults not in school.

Wow! We agree about something!

not the wonderful Magdelena Berns by any chance?

Actually Sheila Jeffries is the one I remember most.
OP delphiandomine 83 | 17,908
5 Sep 2017 #38
Day 2

Too tired to write a long entry today, but one incident happened that is worthy of sharing. One of my groups is of 8-9 year olds in the 3rd class of primary school. I know this group from last year, and they were a very close, tight-knit group with no issues within the group beyond the usual small dramas. Anyway, a new kid joined, and within the first few minutes, it was obvious that they had already rejected him. I wondered why (because these are well behaved, good kids), until it became obvious that there was a reason why he'd joined the school in the 3rd class. He has issues, especially in the way that he talks to other people. His report from the last school is average, but it seems to me that they haven't been truthful. Our own diagnostic testing hasn't shown any issues, but it's quite normal for kids like this to show one face to 'authority' and another face to their peers.

I've written a letter to his old class teacher to ask for more background information, so we'll see if it's a 'new school' thing, or if there's more to it than meets the eye.

Other than that, it's just a predictable start to the school year. Like always, I've just sent out a warning to parents that they will receive all information on the online journal, which no doubt will be ignored. Fortunately, we can see at a glance all the information regarding the parents, including when they logged into the platform last and when they read the messages. Our "contract" with the parents requires them to check the journal daily, so if they don't do it, they have no room to question/complain about anything. I'll give it exactly two weeks before someone complains that their kid got a bad grade and that it's not their fault that they missed my deadline to ask questions about it (48 hours).
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,720
5 Sep 2017 #39
there was a reason why he'd joined the school in the 3rd class.

he could have been the victim of bullying - don't be so quick to blame him, tell ur class that they don't get to 'reject' a new kid on the first day.

Careful that you dont make a snap judgement (kids like this..?) and join in with the bullying. Teachers do this without realising.
jon357 63 | 14,635
5 Sep 2017 #40
I've written a letter to his old class teacher to ask for more background information, so we'll see if it's a 'new school' thing, or if there's more to it than meets the eye.

Great that you did that.

Our "contract" with the parents requires them to check the journal daily

Do they all have good internet access and computer literacy/general literacy?
OP delphiandomine 83 | 17,908
5 Sep 2017 #41
he could have been the victim of bullying - don't be so quick to blame him, tell ur class that they don't get to 'reject' a new kid on the first day.

Yeah, this is what I wondered, because it's normal for victims of bullying to get reports from the last school saying "everything was fine" - they don't want to admit that they failed in any way. We'll see how it goes, but I'm not entirely surprised that this class in particular rejected him instantly.

Careful that you dont make a snap judgement (kids like this..?) and join in with the bullying. Teachers do this without realising.

You're right, it's the exact reason why I write everything down so that it can be analysed later without emotion. I already spoke to his class teacher, and she said that the same behaviour was in her class. Right now, all I can see is a kid that is hostile to others, but there's almost certainly some reason behind it. Having said that, I personally think it was a huge mistake to introduce a new kid to this particular class, but...not my decision.

Do they all have good internet access and computer literacy/general literacy?

This is actually one of the biggest problems - the online journal makes it so much easier to communicate and keep track of things, but at the same time, there are still plenty of parents who struggle with it. It's particularly a big problem when the children are mostly under the care of the grandparents, because the parents simply don't have time/interest and the grandparents aren't always computer literate. What we do in this case is repeatedly stress to the parents that they are obliged to check it daily.

For the very few that are computer illiterate and 'too old' to learn, they are allowed to go to the school office to get print outs daily of the information from their accounts, but this is limited to those that genuinely have no way of accessing the data.
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,490
6 Sep 2017 #42
@rozumiemnic

Good for you : ) I had to look up what a terf and swerf is though... Never heard of those terms before..
jon357 63 | 14,635
6 Sep 2017 #43
the online journal makes it so much easier to communicate and keep track of things, but at the same time, there are still plenty of parents who struggle with it.

Also too many course materials for schools are now dependent on a good internet connection. It goes down, and bang, the lesson's gone.
Atch 17 | 3,063
6 Sep 2017 #44
the online journal

someone complains that their kid got a bad grade and that it's not their fault that they missed my deadline to ask questions about it (48 hours).

So that old business of grading children for the week and recording the results still goes on?? Why on earth is that considered necessary. There are plenty of countries with very good education systems who don't use such a system. Any teacher worth their salt can tell you off the top of their head the level of any child in their class without needing to grade them on a test. I also think that it does nothing to build relationships between parents and the school or get parents involved in their childrens' education in a meaningful way.
mafketis 23 | 7,867
6 Sep 2017 #45
Why on earth is that considered necessary.

Institutional inertia. Once a procedure is in place, on the combined forces of earthquakes, tsunamis and the Silver Surfer can hope to displace it....

Any teacher worth their salt can tell you off the top of their head the level of any child in their class without needing to grade them on a test

It's the same with exams which are ridiculously over-important and redundant, well over 90 % of the time teachers can predict their grades..
Atch 17 | 3,063
6 Sep 2017 #46
Absolutely. The only place where very specific testing is needed in my experience is in the case of children with learning difficulties in the areas of literacy and maths who are in a remedial programme and where clear goals need to be set and progress measured against those goals.
OP delphiandomine 83 | 17,908
7 Sep 2017 #47
Didn't have much time to write yesterday because of the demands of the new school year, but here goes...

It's the same with exams which are ridiculously over-important and redundant, well over 90 % of the time teachers can predict their grades..

Couldn't agree more. Every year, I ask each class and then their parents about grades. The kids always vote for "no grades", while the parents demand them. A few enlightened souls understand that there's no need for exams, but the vast majority want grades so they can boast to their friends/cry to the director. For me, they are completely useless, and the time wasted on grading/marking could be spent on preparing nicer materials. As it stands, I'm wasting about 12 hours a week on marking books and grading them, simply because parents are obsessed with the idea of grades and marking.

So that old business of grading children for the week and recording the results still goes on?? Why on earth is that considered necessary.

Well, mine get graded when I feel like it, but there's heavy pressure from parents to do as many tests as possible. It's ridiculous, especially when you have subjects where there's really no need to test them at all. For instance, my civil war programme in the CLIL history class - meaningful assignments are much more valuable, but again, parents expect grades and final scores from the semester. It's ridiculous and a complete waste of time.

As you say, I can pretty much give grades to every kid in every class without needing to test them.

Anyway, today's fun. I always give kids a test at the start of the school year, simply to see where they are - the grades aren't recorded, it's just for my own information so I can think about seating arrangements and so on. I gave the test yesterday, and today, I get a mother asking "when will the results be online?". I explained to her patiently that it was an internal test for my use only, and she predictably went on the attack, saying that it was her right to see the results and so on. I offered to sit down with her when it was checked so we could discuss it together (and the implications), but she wanted an actual grade online.

I leave it to the reader to decide why she valued grades over discussion.

So far, my groups are pretty much fine. The real work starts next week, as this week is just about easing kids back into school life. My classroom is nicely decorated now, including a lot of materials and books sent over from the UK by various organisations - it really helps to create the illusion that they are (for 45 minutes) in a British classroom.
jon357 63 | 14,635
7 Sep 2017 #48
Any teacher worth their salt can tell you off the top of their head the level of any child in their class without needing to grade them on a test.

Absolutely. Grading kids often does much more harm than good.

children with learning difficulties in the areas of literacy and maths who are in a remedial programme and where clear goals need to be set and progress measured against those goals

For adults in that situation (usualy people attending challenging behaviour units, who have special training needs) the system used is called Goal Attainment Scaling - some fiddly maths in calculating the degree to which a person's specific goal is being met, and with the intention of developing clear strategies to get there.

For me, they are completely useless, and the time wasted on grading/marking could be spent on preparing nicer materials

Essentially portfolio-based assessment. I believe it can work just as well towards a summative assessment as well as just formative.

Good that you've got good decorations for the classroom wall - and of course it's motivating for the kids to see their own stuff there, especially if this is done sparingly and creatively.
OP delphiandomine 83 | 17,908
7 Sep 2017 #49
Essentially portfolio-based assessment. I believe it can work just as well towards a summative assessment as well as just formative.

Yes, I think so too. The problem is that parents want the instant gratification of tests, rather than understanding that a well crafted piece of work tells much more about them. I do have one way of reducing the stress of the kids though - I actually give the parents the tests in advance (for kids in 1st-3rd class). I tell them that it's their decision on how to prepare the kids for the tests, so it actually puts the burden on the parents and not me. If they're going to demand tests, then they can bloody well take responsibility for them.

The problem is that parents expect things like essays to be graded in the same way. I keep telling them every year that written pieces of work will be graded not on the final piece of work, but the entire process of drafting, re-drafting and writing the final version. Every year, I see kids produce garbage for the first and second draft, then they mysteriously produce a fantastic piece of work. The parents, without fail, go beserk when it gets given a low grade.

I remember a few years ago, one parent told me "but his native speaker teacher wrote it for him!!!". I smiled at her politely and asked if she thought that I wouldn't think that something was wrong with the idea of a 10 year old producing a perfect text with no transference errors from Polish.
mafketis 23 | 7,867
7 Sep 2017 #50
I remember trying to do an evaluation test so that students could see what they needed work on. I stressed (about 5678 times) that it's not graded and that cheating would defeat the whole idea of self-monitoring depended on not mixing in what others know or don't know into the result..... they nod, they understand, yes, yes, yes. We start and it's mad looking at other people's answers and whispered 'help' to each other completely defeating the purpose. this was all when I was younger and more naive.....

I try to give as few tests as possible because cheating is too deeply baked into the system (and I blame teachers and parents more than students for that).
OP delphiandomine 83 | 17,908
7 Sep 2017 #51
I try to give as few tests as possible because cheating is too deeply baked into the system (and I blame teachers and parents more than students for that).

Couldn't agree more. I make it crystal clear to every single class that I won't tolerate cheating, but in return, my tests will be fair and interesting. Almost every single test features someone trying to cheat, and the paper being torn up. I'm almost certain that many of my colleagues (both in this school and the last one) are turning a blind eye to cheating, because there's no other explanation as to why they're doing it. Most kids get it very quickly that I'm serious and I won't tolerate it, but there's always one.

Cheating is the absolute scourge of the Polish education system. It's infuriating to watch 7-8 year olds try and cheat, because it's clear that the behaviour has been learnt from somewhere.
Lyzko 25 | 7,145
7 Sep 2017 #52
Just an addendum.

Although having never taught in Poland, I've found that in certain countries, Albania for instance (I'm sure there must be others, Russia, perhaps), apparently what we in the States consider plagiarizing, students from the countries I just mentioned, consider merely the cost of doing whatever necessary to curry favor with their professor in order to receive a good grade, nothing more, nothing less:-)

A young exchange student from the University of Tirana looked at me dagger-eyed and red in the face when a report she submitted (literally taken page by page off of the Internet) I summarily had to fail! Cluelessly, yet visibly angry, she protested the grade, insisting, one, that there IS no difference in English between someone's first name vs. their family name, furthermore, that the whole object of my class was to turn in a paper in acceptable English, which is what she did...using somebody else's words, I told hereLOL

Didn't seem to make an impression on this person that the whole object of learning is NOT to cheat. She didn't feel that it was cheating, and I've encountered this attitude from any number of bright-looking, intelligent students from Eastern Europe.
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,490
14 Sep 2017 #53
@delphiandomine

Grades and standardized test scores are typically the most important things that colleges look at. I would highly encourage you to use them, even if in a limited amount since yes there are plenty of other ways to grade students' progress, but nonetheless 'formal' tests set a benchmark and prepares students for the inevitability of having to take timed tests in the future - especially if they wish to go to college.

I found that in Poland though in general (granted I only went to like the first two grades) there was more emphasis on things like verbal exams, participation, etc. that made up a student's final grade rather than tests alone.

Also I wanted to ask, what exactly is matura? Is that a test that students take at the end of each year or is it more like just at the end of grade school/high school? What is it composed of (like what topics, types of questions, etc.) and when do students typically take it?
mafketis 23 | 7,867
14 Sep 2017 #54
what exactly is matura? I

A kind of multi-day multi-subject final exam. You need to have passed it to go to university. Similar to le Bac in France or Arbitur in Germany. No equivalent in the US.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matura
Cardno85 31 | 976
14 Sep 2017 #55
The problem is that parents want the instant gratification of tests

Maybe as I don't have kids yet I am being naive, but surely there is more to your kids going to school than what grades they get. Do you ever get parents asking questions along the lines of: "Is my child enjoying the classwork?" "Do you feel they are coping with the workload?" and so on? I loved school and, from the sounds of your diary it sounds like the parents aren't really caring about the "life lessons" part of the school but just what grade they are getting, or am I misreading?

I do understand that higher education look at grades and that standardised exams are unlikely to go away anytime soon, but there is so much more to school than exams!
jon357 63 | 14,635
14 Sep 2017 #56
it sounds like the parents aren't really caring about the "life lessons" part of the school but just what grade they are getting,

In Poland, often yes.
Lyzko 25 | 7,145
14 Sep 2017 #57
In South Korea for instance, parents of grade schoolers typically give small "gifts" in the form of cash presents on Teacher's Day in order to insure that their children pass to the next grade and graduate!
spiritus 68 | 665
14 Sep 2017 #58
It's infuriating to watch 7-8 year olds try and cheat, because it's clear that the behaviour has been learnt from somewhere.

What are you suggesting ?

I don't think I'd be happy with my child's teacher blogging about their experiences at my child's school. I hope for your sake that the school never finds out......
Dirk diggler 9 | 4,490
14 Sep 2017 #59
Cheat sheets aka sciagi are pretty common in the pl education system. But yes a teachers policy should be clear - either allow a specific amount of sciagi say no more than 1 index card or none at all.
OP delphiandomine 83 | 17,908
14 Sep 2017 #60
Do you ever get parents asking questions along the lines of: "Is my child enjoying the classwork?" "Do you feel they are coping with the workload?" and so on?

Actually, not often. Some enlightened parents do, but the majority are only heard from when there's an issue with grades. Fortunately, my "give them the answers to the test in advance" tactic does a lot to eliminate the moaning and whining - if their kid gets a bad grade after the parents were given the answers, then they failed to prepare the kid properly.

Unfortunately, in Poland, grades are everything in this culture. It's funny, because the huge focus on grades means that the pressure to cheat is enormous, though I make it clear at every single meeting with parents that I'd rather see a bad honest grade than a good grade where they've cheated.

I also had a situation once when a parent went off the deep end because I'd caught their kid cheating and given them a bad grade. After about 10 minutes of listening to how I was a terrible teacher, I asked the parent politely if they thought that their child cheating was the kind of thing that they wanted to encourage. The truth then came out, that the grades were the most important thing in school (bollocks) and that their kid was expected to get good grades (more bollocks) all the time. Clearly the kid was cheating under pressure from home, which was just so desperately unfair.

What are you suggesting ?

I'm suggesting that the cheating culture is rife and is learnt way before the kids take any tests in schools. They learn very quickly with me that cheating doesn't pay, and that any attempt to cheat is simply met with increased supervision, or if I'm feeling incredibly nasty, a re-take after school with their parents present while I conduct the test. I only have to do that once or twice a term and it's enough to send fear through the rest of them :)

I don't think I'd be happy with my child's teacher blogging about their experiences at my child's school.

Why? Plenty of teachers are also bloggers. There's nothing personally identifying here, after all.


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