THE ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Feb. 8, 2005
During this span of time,
teaching reading has gone from phonics
to whole language and back again. Over
the years, the books we got for phonics
were discarded and replaced with whole
language and so on. Remnants of each of
these books can be found in nooks and
crannies in the school.
By Carol Bjelland
Now I am faced with a new
dilemma. I love teaching - I love the
kids and seeing their accomplishments.
however, are not good enough. Each child
must learn to read and write at the
It matters not that the
child came into kindergarten still
wanting to pick small pieces of paper
and sand off the floor to play with and
look at and that he did not even
recognize his own name when you said it.
By the end of the school
year, this child must be at the same
level as that achieved by the child who
came in with more life experience and
knowing his letters, sounds and numbers.
(As if that weren't
enough, we have no math books for the
students - they are too expensive.)
To teach guided reading,
each child needs a book. We must share
five books among three kindergarten
teachers. These are books that we were
able to print from the Internet and copy
for our students.
We are not able to make a
copy for each child so that his or her
joy and love of reading will be
enhanced. We must share these few books
and save them as our "class sets." And
each of us must work around the schedule
of the other two teachers.
Each year, my colleagues
and I go to school many days early to
set up our classrooms - all without pay.
Many of us take work home throughout the
I am shocked that the
district wants us now to work (i.e.,
reduce our salaries) to help it.
In my mind, it seems as
if years of poor planning have finally
caught up with the money managers in
Tucson Unified School District. Or maybe
that is the problem: There were no money
managers. I might add that my school
principal is wonderful and that she is
an advocate for students as well as
teachers. None of this is a reflection
I still love teaching,
but I also feel good teachers, active
parents, time and money are crucial for
a classroom to run at top speed, and
right now I feel our classrooms are
lacking the last two of these criteria.
I have been
teaching for 33 years. You would
think that would count for
something. But I sometimes feel like
a first-year teacher.
● Carol Bjelland
is a teacher at Ford Elementary