What to say, what to say....
I guess when it comes to firing teachers, I've had a little something to say before. Remember the Rhode Island teacher massacre? Mrs. Mimi got herself all worked up over that one. If you don't remember, feel free to click here, here, aaaannnnndddd here.
As firing teachers is the latest rage amongst individuals trying to come off as Saviors of Education, Michelle Rhee decided to jump on the bandwagon and fire 241 Washington DC teachers, which is somewhere between 5 and 6% of the total teaching force.
I mean, it's like these people just don't GET IT! Perhaps if they would take a moment and just listen to something other than the sound of their own voices...
I will try to stay calm.
Note I said "try". I can not make any promises.
Should our education system tolerate inadequate and ineffective teachers? Um, no. (Duh.) As a teacher I could barely tolerate inadequate and ineffective teachers...they make the jobs of rockstar teachers that much harder and do NOTHING to improve the educational outcomes for children. In fact, I'm sure some of them are subtracting opportunities and knowledge from children, but that's just a hunch.
Should teachers be held to high standards as professionals? Of course they should. We are not idiots, and we can handle high standards as we are professional individuals who not only work hard to do our best everyday in our classrooms but actively seek out ways to improve our practice.
Should all of us be treated like morons because a few of us blow? Should we be subjected to checklists of discrete skills that masquerade as the only markers of good teaching? Should we work in fear that someone is going to catch us *gasp* spending an extra ten minutes on our science lesson, thus rendering us task OFF time and, as a result and according to many Checklists of Effectiveness, INeffective?
Can I get a big old "hells no" up in here?!
Some of the teachers fired in DC did not have the correct paperwork and credentials. Fair enough. Their bad. Some of the teachers fired in DC probably were less than adequate. Fair enough. However, I take issue with the system of evaluation (IMPACT) which utilizes both "value added" (buzz word alert!) test score data and classroom observation.
I will leave the discussion of "value added-ness" to my colleagues out there who enjoy discussing and tearing apart numbers (Skoolboy, care to weigh in??) and will now focus on the reliability of classroom observations.
Now I know I am only a sample of one, but in my experience, observations have been canceled at the last minute, scheduled at the last minute, absently watched and blatantly hi-jacked. Let's see, there was the time that my administrator suggested that I post a chart that she was sitting in front of at the time. (Way to go powers of observation!) Then there was the time I was told, "Let's just skip it all together. You're fine." Or the time when my suggestions for follow up were cut and pasted out of another colleague's observation report, AND considering we taught different grades and were observed in different subjects, were less than relevant or helpful. Ooo! How about the time I begged for feedback on my teaching and was told, "No."
Can we please base my salary and job security on that? 'Cuz it seems like fun. Like a big old carnival game or something. But more rigged and with no stuffed prize at the end.
Perhaps the folks who developed the system of observations in DC had good intentions. I mean, they DID think to incorporate master teachers to conduct two of the five evaluations in an effort to alleviate the potential bias of an angry administrator. Yet, they also expect teachers to demonstrate 22 different teaching elements in 30 minutes. Again, I'm no math wizard, but essentially that means one needs to demonstrate a new skill roughly every second-ish.
Well that sounds like it would lead to a coherent lesson focused on the students!
(There I go again with that destructive sarcasm!)
What teacher in her right mind can focus on her students when she has to keep all 22 elements at the front of her mind in order to ensure that she jumps through all 22 hoops in a timely fashion? Even a master teacher who inherently incorporates these 22 elements into her work naturally would be hard pressed to make sure that someone would be able to actively observe and identify each of them in a 30 minute period of time!
Dog and pony show, say whaaaaa?
And who is the genius that identified these 22 elements? There are only 22? Seriously? Maybe this job is easier than I thought...
*cough, cough* bullshit! *cough cough*
Sorry, I had a little hypocrisy stuck in my throat. I was just wondering how effective the Powers That Be would be if we gave them 30 minutes to demonstrate their full range of effectiveness in what must be a highly complex job?
Ready, set, GO!
(P.S. Technically, I'm on a bit of a blogger maternity leave, so Powers That Be? Could you try not to screw things up anymore while I'm away? Thanks and big hugs!)