Thursday, January 17, 2013

I am "Paul"

You don't get to meet a lot of really good people in this "business" of education. The type of people where you know they will have your back, be honest with you, and hope for the best. Two of these people are David Greene and Diane Ravitch.

The first time I met Dave, I got an instant respect for him when he put me in my place for generalizing TFA teachers. I was like, "Wow, this guy says what is own his mind!" But it was not only that, it was the encyclopedic knowledge he has of education and the history of education in his extraordinary mind that he possesses that is so amazing and unique. But, more importantly, he is what my people call a mensch.

Diane Ravitch, I have met once. But it is always been a kick and an honor when she retweets something I had shared on Twitter or when last month she linked to what I had written on these pages twice.

Last month, Dave in his blog, DCG Mentoring wrote about a teacher named Paul. Diane Ravitch, in turn last week linked and shared the story as well.

I am Paul.

From the words of David Greene; 

Yesterday I received an emergency phone call from an experienced teacher in a Bronx school who received his first ever “U” on an observation report.

Emotionally overwrought with fear and anger, it took all I could do to calm him down and get him to figure out how he could resolve this issue and continue to teach and at the same time maintain his principles while having to deal with his principal.

She, as authoritarian personality as they come, simply follows NYC DOE/Teachers College orders in FORCING her underlings to follow the lockstep TC workshop model lesson plan. Because he veered and used different materials and interacted differently with his kids than the plan permits he was given a “U”.

It was quite evident after seeing her 20-page write-up that there was something more here. Her discussions of the 2 pre-observation were filled with evidence of her obviously one-track mind. Do it this way. I will not accept any of your alternatives.

Her most consistent and often repeated criticism is that he did not use everything the Model presenter from TC demonstrated in the 3 short demonstrations he attended.

It as if everything that came before NYCDOE/TC’s workshop version of teaching was anathema in this new pious world of top down education. By the way…it is a terrible way to teach if used as the one and only lesson plan every single day.

But that is probably why he received this “U” in the first place. You see, he is not passive. He is not one to just follow orders. He speaks up and out. He argues. He was being punished for that more than his not following the lesson plan.

He expressed to me that he was ready to give up, to get out, to simply go to the rubber room, or be made into an ATR (absent teacher reserve).

That is the new leadership’s plan. Veterans: If you don’t follow the rules you have two choices. Retire or be exiled. This way “The Big Talking Heads” of education can take in their fresh young faces and train them to be, as my friend said, Star Wars “Clones” obeying the orders of the dark side.



Anonymous said...

EXACTLY - veteran teachers are being marked for elimination! It reminds so much of the Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man". You know, all the happy people filing onto the spaceship until one person exclaims "It's a COOKBOOK!" That is what's happening and the veteran teachers are the ones telling it like it is. We are being targeted, for sure!

proofoflife said...

The TC model is a horror! Our scores and my sanity have plummeted into hell! Reading and writing have no connection according to the very expensive TC robot!

Anonymous said...

Who remembers the 'Workshop Model Videos'? They weren't around long. Someone counted the number of students in the class in the video and there were only 18. The time of the lesson was also fudged. That was the first sign that the Bloomberg plans for classrooms were bogus. I hope somebody has copies. They can go into the Bloomberg wing of the museum of educational fraud.

technoteacher said...

Our principal asked us yesterday why our children can't think for themselves. We replied that they are accustomed to being spoon fed by the workshop model. We have lost a generation of children.

burntoutteacher said...

Paul's story could be mine, or about 20 colleagues that I can easily name without thinking about it. Over twenty years of a great record of teaching, being a mentor, teaching student teachers, working on committees to develop curricula, working with administrators, assisting administrators and then suddenly, bam! I get a principal with a ridiculous agenda, and I along with almost all the older teachers in the building. We are targeted and given U ratings based on nothing. Appeals were denied for all of us, even when the arbitrator agreed with me after the tape recorder was turned off but warned that the DoE does what it wants, an arbitrator only makes a "recommendation". Totally demoralized (for us it is not just a job but our lives), I transfer to the first school that offers a job, not realizing that I am going from the proverbial frying pan. A Leadership Academy principal with no teaching experience and only a sports backaground is trying to tell me how to teach reading to horribly delayed students. He had the chutzpah to insist that silent sustained reading was not teaching and kids could no longer read in my classes. High school students with 5th grade reading levels could no longer read in my classes! So I, like Paul, refused to sit silently while my students fell behind. U ratings followed, all because I did not follow the network's force-fed TC model to the letter but tried to adapt to my students' needs. In another universe I would have been applauded, not criticized. Finally could take no more and retired way too early. But left behind a small faculty of friends and colleagues who are being U'ed and 3020'd out of the system. When did I die and go to purgatory, that the rules changed so drastically?

Anonymous said...

After 21 years of service as a teacher, at 44 years old, I have about 11 more years before I can retire. I got lucky. I work in a campus school where my school was phasing out. Another principal of an "A" school hired me. I've been at this mini school within the campus for 2 1/2 years now. I'm just playing the game.
The teachers follow along like ducks in a line. The AP's stay until 6 or 7 at night each day and the principal is learning on the job, after being in for just 3 years after teaching for two years.
I watch. I don't say much. I attend the PD's. I say the right things and don't cause to many waves. I even purchased gifts for plenty of staff for the recent holidays. This is a great move if you didn't already know.
The school is changing and the other day the principal let us know that if we don't sep up, we would be getting a lesser grade and so on. I still didn't say anything as I heard and saw what happened to my old school years ago. So, I see what's happening here.
This is how the game works. I will remain in this school and suck as many years as I can before it hits "D" status. Once it hits, it takes years to phase it out, if this concept still exists with a new mayor soon.
So my friends, hop along from school to school like a game. It's the equivalent of Survivor in the NYCDOE. Which teachers can play and which can't. It's a joke, make the most of it!