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The Next Survivor Series

picture of Survivor logo

Do you like what they call "reality TV"? Although I have not watched more than a minute or two of Survivor (as I scramble for the remote control to change channels), from the ads I know there have been several different series, each with its own difficult setting and conditions. A couple of years ago I posted an idea for a new Survivor series.

A reader who teaches elementary school sent me an e-mail with an idea for yet another new series. Recently when Mark and Katie were at our house, I asked them to read it over and to change anything they deemed necessary to make it more real to life since they are both elementary school teachers. Here's the proposed plan for another series of Survivor:

Have you heard about what they are planning for the next season of Survivor? Three businessmen and women, three state senators, and three state representatives will be dropped into an elementary school classroom for one school year. Each "teacher" will be provided with a copy of the school district's curriculum and a class of 25-30 students.

Each class will have a minimum of five learning-disabled children, three with A.D.H.D., one gifted child, and two who speak limited English. Three students will be labeled with severe behavior problems.

Each of the "teachers" must complete lesson plans at least 3 days in advance, with annotations for curriculum objectives and modify, organize, or create their materials accordingly. They will be required to teach students, handle misconduct, implement technology, document attendance, write referrals, correct homework, make bulletin boards, compute grades, complete report cards, document benchmarks, communicate with parents, and arrange parent conferences. They must also stand in their doorway between class changes to monitor the hallways. In addition, they will complete fire drills and tornado drills.

They must attend workshops, faculty meetings, and curriculum development meetings. They must also tutor students who are behind and strive to get their two non-English speaking children proficient enough to take the ELDA tests. If they are sick or having a bad day they must not let it show.

Each day they must incorporate reading, writing, math, science, and social studies into the program. They must maintain discipline and provide an educationally stimulating environment to motivate students at all times. If all students do not wish to cooperate, work, or learn, the teacher will be held responsible.

The "teachers" will have access to the public golf course only on the weekends, but with their new salary, they may not be able to afford it. There will be no access to vendors who want to take them out to lunch, and lunch will be limited to twenty minutes, with their students, which is not counted as part of their work day. The "teachers" will be permitted to use a student restroom, as long as another survival candidate can supervise their class.

If the copier is operable, they may make copies of necessary materials before or after school. However, they cannot surpass their monthly limit of copies. The "teachers" must continually advance their education, at their expense, and on their own time.

The winner of this season of Survivor will be allowed to return to his or her original job.


Does that sound more like "reality" than doing some of the things the contestants have to do in contrived situations on the Survivor show? Do you elementary teachers have any modifications or additions to make to the scenario described above?

Kudos to all you teachers out there who are making a difference in reality!


"When the judgment falls, and it will, what will we have left? If we give ourselves to the world, we end up with nothing." - Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first and the lesson afterwards.

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8 Comments on “The Next Survivor Series”

  1. #1 Kathy Sorensen
    on Jul 1st, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Rob, both of my kids are teachers, one at the elementary level, the other at the high school level. I’ve heard these exact same “criteria” contained in today’s blog so often from them. Our teachers are fantastic professionals. I often wonder where they get their “teaching gifts” from. It takes someone special to teach. It also takes strength, guts, big hearts, etc., etc., etc.

    Edith and John … you go, guys!!!!!!!!

  2. #2 Michael
    on Jul 1st, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Definitely sharing this with my in-laws who are both teachers in public elementary schools in Arizona. And, I agree with you regarding the “reality” TV show genre. Some of them can be fun to watch, but more and more I’m not sure what’s really real about them.

  3. #3 Nancy
    on Jul 1st, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Add at least one immunity challenge that involves something that bleeds. A skinned knee or a pulled tooth are both good possibilities. The survivor must staunch the bleeding, following all current bloodborne pathogen regulations, calm the student in pain (skinned knee) or the student in delight (lost tooth), and keep all other students fully monitored and on task.

    **Bonus points if rinsing the mouth results in a drinking fountain now in need of disinfecting.

  4. #4 Sandy
    on Jul 1st, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Rob, loved the Survivor Series idea!! As a former first grade teacher, I think you need to add a little more excitement to the show… There should be a sick child or two each week – stomach viruses always liven up the classroom. Head lice or pink eye could also be nice additions to the story line – teachers themselves are not exempt from those, you know! Injuries on the playground are also an idea – especially if they require stitches. Also, drop in visits from parents and even grandparents can add lots of drama to a teacher’s day. Then, there is the whole story line of teacher/ teacher interaction. Hoarding of supplies, principal favoritism, general power struggles… oh what a rich area that would be to mine!! I definitely think you have a winning idea!

  5. #5 Sarah Calhoun
    on Jul 1st, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    This really is good. Maybe a child or two with some serious allergy (nuts or peanuts, for example; or bee stings) should be thrown into the mix. Or at least one with some other serious physical ailment, illness or handicap.

  6. #6 JohnMatzko
    on Jul 3rd, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Thinking about teaching elementary school reminds me how grateful I am to be a college teacher. Only a few learning disabled students make it this far, and when they do, there are specialists to help. Parents usually live far away, and the vast majority of their children would be mortified to have them call. If students get hurt on the “playground,” I only see them again after they’re well bandaged. If they’re sick, they usually don’t come to class. (In fact, if they’re well they often don’t come either.) I have the opportunity to teach only one subject, and I don’t have to worry about teaching someone else’s curriculum. As for lesson plans, with almost no one looking over my shoulder, I can write them up after the class and scribble to myself, “Don’t ever do that again.”

  7. #7 Nathan Patefield
    on Jul 5th, 2010 at 5:47 am

    Hi Rob,

    I sent this to a friend who is a special ed teacher in a public school. Here are her additions to this new “reality” show:

    Don’t forget the No Child Left Behind Act with a requirement for mandated Standardized tests to determine if your school will meet the Annual Yearly Progress or AYP. Every year your school must show a bigger increase in student achievement to get the same AYP approval. Even though you can get AYP one year with a certain score does not mean that the same score the next year will get you AYP approval. By the year 2013 all students, regardless of individual differences will show 100% accuracy on these mandated tests. (What every happened to the bell curve and individual learning needs?)

    Don’t forget that some of the students you mentioned in your list will also need by law to have Individual Education Plans or IEP’s (mandated by the law) written for them. These meeting must be attended by a general education teacher, special education teacher, parent and principal or designee for the principal all before certain time frames during the school day that you also have to teach within. The IEP requires that you use specific accommodations for each individual on these plans and provide needed extra services like: Speech, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy , Assistive Technology with Hearing and Sight Programs. Don’t forget the formal behavior plans that must be implemented or the documentation that must be kept on each student in your classroom. Curriculum has to be rewritten to meet the needs of each student and then intervention plans written and applied to those students that are not “getting” correct understanding. You must do this in the time frame given to you, in between Specials (Art, Music, Library, Band, Strings, Chorus, PE, Lunch and Recess with half-day Teacher Work Days.

  8. #8 Rob
    on Jul 6th, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    @Kathy – Props to your teacher-kids. All three of ours teach or have taught younger children. The youngest I ever taught in a school setting is 7th grade. They’re a hoot, and not everyone’s cup of tea, but I enjoyed them thoroughly. They’re just themselves — no pretense.

    @Michael – I’d love to hear how your in-laws liked the post.

    @Nancy, Sandy, and Sarah – Thanks for your contributions to this post. Too funny. (I can clearly hear the voice of experience behind those typed words….)

    @John – I agree with you, John. I also enjoy teaching college, although I sometimes miss my high schoolers. Well, actually, my high schoolers are all in their 40’s and 50’s now. YIKES!

    @Nathan – Thanks for taking the time to share this with your friend and for posting the friend’s reply. Great additions to this post!