Friday, December 31, 2010

With My Hand Over My Heart...Today, I Will Judge

Well, friends, it's that time of year again. The time to make false promises to ourselves that this year, we will leave our classrooms early to get to the gym.This year we will be totally on top of all our paperwork. This year we will greet our little friends with a smile and a positive attitude every day. Yes, I said every day...even those days when you accidentally leave your coffee untouched on the kitchen counter and must forge on sans caffeine. I mean, talk about a resolution!

My infamous resolution is to "be more positive in (insert year here)." So far it's been negativity 4, Mrs. Mimi 0, but who's counting?

What can I say? A solid dose of negativity combined with a dash of snarky is the way of my people. That and an unreal love of all things cheese. My sister and I try to be better people. We raise our hands to our hearts and pledge, "today, I will not judge.". Again, so far we've only got the pledging part down, but baby steps, my peeps, baby steps.

However, this year THIS YEAR, Mrs. Mimi is feeling a little crazy. I'm all, "Let's mix it up this year, eh?".

Friends, today I will judge.

Ta dah! Quite the resolution, no?

I am going to judge what is best for teachers and, ultimately, what is best for children. Because, in my humble albeit outspoken and in your face opinion, what nurtures the souls and minds of gifted teachers will nurture the souls and minds of children. It's not all about the kids and it's not all about the teachers. It's all about the culture of the school and relationships.

I am going to judge others when they make remarks about my job as they awkwardly straighten their ties, realizing that they have no business speaking with their lack of classroom experience but refusing to keep their mouths shut all the same.

I am going to judge the new-fangled snap-your-fingers-and-everyone-learns approach to teaching. If it dumbs down my work, it's a no go. If it makes me feel like I'm a trained seal? That's a no too. And if it makes learning about as interesting as watching paint dry, I'm going to have to pass on that too.

Finally, I'm going to judge teachers. Who is rocking it in their classrooms and who is just getting by? Who is bringing us down with their "but my contract says" and their refusal to work hard (and therefore should be ashamed of themselves)? And who could use a helping hand because this work is balls out HARD?

So, welcome to the judgement zone, my lovely readers. Somehow, I think this is going to be a banner year for resolutions....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Mother-effing blogs on a mother-effing plane! (Sorry, I had to.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

When Is This Horse Going To Die?

...because, honestly? Aren't we all sick of beating it?

But before we get started here...Yes, I know I've been gone fo-eva, I know I should probably explain myself and I know I owe many of you an apology. All of this is coming, friends, but Mrs. Mimi has to deal with this pesky piece-of-shit fly first.

What is so major that it snapped me out of my funk? Got me to dust off the old soap box? Shine up the fabulous boots for a little butt kicking?

Using student standardized test scores to evaluate, judge, compensate and, yes, sometimes publicly humiliate teachers, that's what.

I mean, what the deuce, Powers That Be? Why won't you let this one go?

A Super Colleague sent me a link to a piece in the NY Times this morning. After reading just the first few opening sentences, I could feel my old blog finger twitching. (For those of you who are non-bloggers, that's similar to a trigger finger, but with a lot less ammo and a lot more snarky.)

Here's the link. Take a moment. Soak in the ridiculous. I'll still be here fuming when you finish.

Why do city officials insist on using standardized test scores for EVERYTHING?! Is it because reducing something SO COMPLEX such as teacher effectiveness to a bunch of numbers feels easier, faster, neater? More science-y and fitting with your power ties, expensive lunches and big charts with graphs?

I guess from where city officials are standing (hint: it's not in a school), abusing standardized test data is the new rage in excessive back patting.

Why shouldn't we use said data to evaluate their job performance and determine their pay? Oh, because they can't be held directly responsible for something that depends on such a wide variety of factors?

Well then, NEITHER SHOULD TEACHERS.

I feel like it goes without saying, but I will say it again because that is the way of my people. The score a student receives on a test is not just a measure of his teacher's ability to teach. It is also a reflection of his parents, his entire school, the neighborhood he lives in, if he ate a decent breakfast and if he speaks proficient English. It's complicated, can we just agree on that?

And then did you read the part about how really these scores might
say something about the top 10 percent and the bottom 10 percent but really tell us next to nothing about the remaining 80 percent of teachers. Do I even need to throw in the reality that many teachers don't even test a subject or grade level that is tested?!

May I take a moment to make it very clear that my last statement was in no way an invitation to create another battery of tests. I know, I got the Powers That Be all worked up for a second there. Perhaps they need a cold, number free shower or something.

Let's just boil it down to this.

Stop saying that you respect teachers, that you think we have a difficult job, that you think we are so important to the future and then simultaneously reduce our jobs to a series of numbers and scores that are largely irrelevant and, in many ways, out of our control. Stop pointing fingers, trying to publicly humiliate us and pin the blame for failing schools on us alone and then wonder why the best and brightest don't jump at the chance to have a career in teaching.

Just stop.

The horse is dead. Put down your stick and walk away.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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