Letter to a Teacher

Metropolitan High School

  • Standardizing The Future One Test At A Time


Dear Mr. Baylor,

Congratulations! You have been chosen to be our permanent substitute for Mrs. Hall, who has taken maternity leave. Welcome to the Social Studies Department of Metropolitan High School.

Since you are new to this profession, I have been asked to welcome you, and provide you with general instructions for the upcoming academic year.

The school year will begin next week. In the meantime, you will be provided a district curriculum for each of the seven courses you will teach. You will be responsible for thoroughly knowing each of the curricula, which are about 700 to 800 pages each.

Each class will average thirty-two students. Given that number, there are certain expectations. In general, each class will have one gifted child, five learning-disabled children, three who are functionally illiterate, two Bosnian war refugees, one undocumented child of a migrant worker, and six Crips. What you will not have is a teaching assistant.

You are required to complete weekly lesson plans, which are due the Friday before the work week for which the lesson plans appertain. Each less plan must align with the district curriculum in that subject. Each lesson plan must contain:
Grade Level Expectations
Essential Questions
Performance Tasks
Vocabulary Strategies
Individualized Instruction
Cross Content Integration
Teacher Reflections
Student Work Analysis
Reteaching Strategies
Please remember that, in addition to aligning with the district curricula, all this must be explicitly aligned with state standards. All standards must be posted in your classroom.

In addition to teaching, you will be required to take roll, keep up with technological advances, correct homework, make bulletin boards, calculate grades, complete report cards, communicate with parents, arrange parent conferences, and attend those conferences.

It is generally expected that you will take part in at least one extracurricular activity such as coaching a sport or moderating a club.

In order to monitor the hallway, you must stand outside your door between classes. Anything that happens in the hallway is your responsibility. Anything that happens in your room is also your responsibility.

You will give each of your classes about a dozen standardized tests. You should realize that that is not simply a dozen tests: that’s a dozen tests times seven classes. Some tests take three days.

Please read the Emergency Standard Operating Guidelines For Classrooms. You will be required to help with fire drills, tornado drills, intruder drills, earthquake drills, and hazardous material drills. You will also be prepared to handle the occasional suicide attempt, lightening strike, traumatic injury and, of course, the death of a student or colleague.

You must attend workshops, faculty meetings, department meetings, and attend curriculum development meetings.

You must also tutor students who are behind, and make all non-English speaking children proficient enough to take the high stakes State Test.

You should study psychology.

You will be expected to subscribe to at least one educational journal, and to keep up with the latest developments in the field.

You may wish to join the union.

If you are sick, anxious or depressed, do not let it show. You are required to be cheery, cooperative and uplifting at all times.

Each day, you are required to incorporate reading, writing, math and science into your social studies lessons.

You must maintain discipline. But you must not record disciplinary problems in any manner that will make the school look bad. This means, in general, that your disciplinary tactics are limited to threats, cajoling, and the occasional call home.

If a student refuses to cooperate, work or learn, that is your fault. You are required to motivate all students at all times.

You will be required to buy many, if not most, of your own materials. This may include, but not be limited to: chalk, rulers, pencils, pens, folders, lined paper, band aids, note cards. Have plenty of one dollar bills on you, for you will buy many students their lunch. Once a month, you will be given 500 sheets of xerox paper. You will be amazed how much gratitude you will feel for that paper.

Bring your own lunch. You will not have time to go out. You will have a half hour for lunch, during which time you also may have to go to the bathroom, call a parent, meet with an educational consultant, and have a department meeting.

Regardless of where you are in the building, your bathroom will not be near. Before you can go to the bathroom, you will be required to have your class covered by a certified teacher.

Your planning time is once every other day, presuming there are no meetings scheduled for your free period.

You will be expected to earn your master’s degree. When you get your master’s, you’ll be paid a little under $40,000 a year. That’s before taxes.

By the end of this year, you may have no collective bargaining rights, a decrease in health care and dental benefits, a reduction in salary, the abolition of any chance for tenure, and a vastly reduced pension plan.

There is a teacher retiring, so you have a good chance at a permanent position. However, regardless of your performance, if the scores on the state test go down, do not expect to be rehired permanently.

It is therefore my honor and my privilege to extend to you, Mr. Baylor, the hardy welcome of the school and the department. I welcome you to your chosen profession!


M. Publius, Ph. D.

Filed under: Prose, Publius