SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: E4E Presents The George Burns & Grace Snodgrass Comedy Hour

Sunday, June 12, 2011

E4E Presents The George Burns & Grace Snodgrass Comedy Hour

In the last week or so we have been subjected to the latest Educators4Excellence manifesto. This time it is on teacher evaluation. Sure enough, the New York Post, Gotham Schools, and the official propaganda arm of the NYC DOE and E4E, FAUX News, all gave credence to teacher evaluation manifesto. Yes, they surely line their ducks all up in a row.

But we have forgotten the Huffington Post where this past Tuesday, June 7, E4E Minister of Propaganda, Grace Snotgrass, er I meant, Snoodgrass, nope, Snodass, nope, one more try, Snootass, OK!!! I will really get it right this time. Grace Smokesgrass. Oh, come on brain! GRACE SNODGRASS spewed forth with her .02, from a $1.19 thought process somehow trying to sell the E4E manifesto to one and all.

In the coming weeks I, along with thousands of my colleagues around New York City, will receive my annual teacher evaluation report. 

Yeppers, it is this time of the year. I am sure that the thousands of dollars that you have received by failed teacher Michelle Rhee and failed software developer Bill Gates has been spent wisely leading you to this conclusion.

After a year of pouring endless hours of hard work, creativity, energy and enthusiasm into moving my students forward, my annual performance evaluation will simply say "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory." So that's that.

Yeah, that is that. However, if you did receive an unsatisfactory, there should be by law, contract, and morally paperwork to back it up.

Really, this binary evaluation tells me almost nothing about my performance this year. 

Binary? You want your evaluation in binary code. Well here you go, 1-0-0-1-0-0-1. How dat? Actually that is from the Rush song, The Body Electric off of 1984's album Grace Under Pressure. Light a joint Grace, and get high listening to that album. What's that? You meant binary as in the two star system that Tatooine is part of? No you say? Oh, wait. You mean something in twos. Like unsatisfactory or satisfactory. Why didn't you say so? I think "two part" would have been sufficient. We don't all need to show how smart we think we are, right Grace?

There will be little color, context and commentary to frame the job I've done with my students.

I am sure if you asked nicely your principal would have been more than happy to have color coded your evaluation.

There will be little analysis of my teaching style, my lesson plans or my instructional approach.

Shouldn't this be ongoing throughout the year? Shouldn't you be meeting with your supervisors to deduce this? If not them coming to you, surely you can make appointments to see them. Why haven't you? Grace, are you gaming the system?

Once my evaluation's been given, I'll still be asking -- were my support charts accessible and helpful? Did my students' writing meet rigorous enough standards? Were my guided reading questioned designed to best push my students' thinking? 

Simple Grace. Make an appointment. By the way, what is it with all you elitists needing constant evaluation? Can't you self evaluate? Surely Eli Manning doesn't go up to Tom Coughlin and ask for constant feedback, constant evaluation. What do you do with Ruben the next morning? You say, "eh, it was OK," and you move on. Do you give him a flow chart on his performance? Of course not!

The evaluations we receive today give us almost no analysis of our impact (good or bad) on student learning and development. Nor do they help us develop our skills to become more effective educators and better mentors for our students.

If your administrators were doing there jobs you would have your wish. Your evaluation, your effectiveness should be constant. It should come in the form of informal observations, which contrary to popular belief can happen whenever they want. It should happen in settings as informal as passing in the hall, at professional development meetings, at grade meetings, faculty meetings, etc...

That's why last year I joined Educators 4 Excellence (E4E), a group of teachers contributing their voices to the policy decisions made at the 10,000-foot level -- a level that all too often forgets to include actual teachers and students. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The 10,000 foot level. Blah, blah. Funny how you and your kind whine about the lack of voices and accountability from on high when your own organization, nor the organizations E4E is affiliated with doesn't allow any dissent, or you must sign a loyalty oath. 

First and foremost, it acknowledges that students deserve classroom teachers who are mindful of their own strengths and weaknesses so that they can continually improve their instruction.

I can guarantee you that teachers know their strengths and weaknesses. In fact, I am sure the vast, vast majority of teachers want feedback on their weaknesses. However, in my opinion in this climate if a teacher actually admits they have a weakness they wish to improve upon it will set them up as a target.

we call for a balanced combination of multiple classroom observations (from both administrator and independent observers) and student achievement data.

OK, how do you assure that the administrators will  be objective. Is their any punishment in your manifesto which will punish such administrators? As far as these "independent" observers this seems like one of two things. One, just one more layer of bureaucratic, overpaid crap, or two, more money going to outside contractors. Can't you hear it now? What's that sound? People rushing to start an independent observer of teacher business in which pals of the DOE and Uncle Mike will be awarded untold millions in no-bid contracts. As far as your student achievement data thing, I am no longer going down this road. Road apples to that.

In addition, we recommend that student surveys

OK. So what do we do with K? The students draw a picture?

and the contributions teachers make to their school communities count towards the final rating.

And this means??? Staying late? What happens if a divorced parent of three has to pick their children up everyday from school? What about a teacher that coaches sports all three seasons? What about a teacher that goes to class three times a week? What is the barometer for contributions to the school community?

Finally, we stress the importance of using district-wide rubrics in teacher evaluations to establish a model for effective teaching that extends to all teachers and students in the city.

So a diverse district like District 10, in which you have school that are in areas with abject poverty, and schools that are in some of the swankiest, richest enclaves of NYC will have the same rubric? Surely Grace, you jest.

The teacher's union and the policy-makers at the DOE will likely have to make compromises as they negotiate a new evaluation system.

The UFT has made too many compromises. It is time now for Uncle Mike to compromise. Sorry Gracie.

Grace, you are not in the real world. You are an elitist, from an elite college, from an elite life. Live life in the real world. Get your hands dirty. Juggle more things in life rather than which bars you will hit on a weekend. The man in the booth behind the E4E curtain is slowly being exposed. Time to jump ship. The rat ship is sinking.


Sweet Girl Tracie said...

A few points that I would like to make:

1.My graduate school was extremely progressive on authentic teaching and learning. They DO NOT condone ANY OF THESE new education policies that are overwhelming our city, state and nation. In fact, their own professors refuse to give the teachers-in-training exams to assess their learning. My graduate school's entire philosophy is on 'authentic learning and assessments'.

2. I know exactly the kind of teacher I was/am in the classroom by my constant feedback with my mentor. My mentor was a wonderful supporter and asset to my first few years in the classroom (we worked well together and we continued to work together even after my first year). She gave me positive feedback and was always generally satisfied with my accomplishments in the classroom. However, she did give me constructive feedback when it was needed (but often she did not have to give it to me because I already assessed and evaluated myself).

3. I can not say the same for my administration. My administration had no clue as to what I was doing in my classroom for my first year of teaching. They were barely around and "rarely" gave me any feedback. I would have to say that my mentor was more of a supervisor to me as well as my colleague and friend for my first year of teaching. (Administrators like these should not be conducting formal or informal feedback for any teacher who can not successfully do their job).

4. When education reformers start stressing important education matters, this usually has me asking cautiously. I would like to see a real educator and administrator with tons of experience consult great school districts across the country to find out what works for their students and what does not work.

5. "Once my evaluation's been given, I'll still be asking -- were my support charts accessible and helpful? Did my students' writing meet rigorous enough standards? Were my guided reading questioned designed to best push my students' thinking?"

Teachers are supposed to be self reflecting to ask and evaluate themselves if such and such is working in the classroom. I know I certainly self-reflect and observe all of my students in my classroom. Oooh, look at that, observations. Who knew that observing students would be a form of assessment, and a much better assessment that standardized tests?

Sweet Girl Tracie said...

Adding a 6th point to my diatribe:

6. My relationship between my mentor and I was positive and successful because I TRUSTED her completely with her judgment and I knew she was positively looking out for my best interests to make me a successful teacher.

Anonymous said...

"Grace Snodgrass", it's like naming your child "Lovely Manurefield". It's one of those names, like "Whitney Tilson", where you can be fairly sure their relatives owned slaves.