"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Help Kristen Paulson Support Her Students Without Being Punished for It

Below is a plaintive letter from first grade teacher, Kristen Paulson, to my colleague, Mark Naison. If you believe that teachers have the right and responsibility to advocate for their students, please share her letter far and wide.  Also let her principal, Bertie Alligood (615-824-3217), know that teachers should not be punished for being advocates for student learning.

Hi, Dr. Naison,

My name is Kristen Paulson and I am a first grade teacher in Tennessee.  While I am only in my fifth year of teaching, I have been working in schools and with kids my whole life in several different states throughout the country.  My kids are my passion.  

I found an article about your incredible commitment and passion towards helping teachers have a voice while I was researching teachers being mistreated.  I have been at my current school for three years, and completed part of my student teaching there as well.  It is a low income school with lots of diversity in every sense of the word.  Long story short, I am being pushed out by administration. I cannot prove it, but I feel strongly that it is because I have a very strong voice for my students and also because I am vocal about my refusal to "teach to the test."  

Every year 30-60% of my students face incredible difficulties - things that no person, never mind child, should ever have to deal with.  I advocate for them tirelessly, and I put my focus into growing them as people to help them be their best selves.  I promise them every year that I would never ask them to do something I didn't think they could do, academically or otherwise.  Unfortunately, my administration does not like that my students are not performing at a scholar level on their benchmarks and state assessments.  

My principal has put me on an indefinite "growth plan" that requires me to do outrageous amounts of work on top of the 60+ hour work week I am already working.  I have had 4s and 5s (5 is highest in TN) on all of my observations, with the exception of observations she completed over the last two years.  I was always a level 4 teacher until this past school year.

I don't know that there is necessarily anything that you could do, but I wanted to reach out and share my story with you if not for anything else, to share my voice to the community.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all that you do.

All my best,

Kristen Paulson
M.Ed Instructional Practice K-6 and ELL K-12 Lipscomb University
1st Grade Teacher Walton Ferry Elementary School, Hendersonville, TN

No comments:

Post a Comment