Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Good Old Days

A colleague told me yesterday about how she got her job. She was doing student teaching in our building and constantly being observed by her college teacher. The professor was effusive with praise for her, and her first department AP always found an excuse to be around and eavesdrop. He would shuffle through papers on a desk pretending to be looking for something, or stumble around as though lost in his own office.

When she finished her student teaching, he was able to offer her a job. Before she got tenure, he formally observed her, almost religiously, precisely six times a year. She generally did well, but her first time was particularly interesting, to me, at least.

The AP came in with his notebook (There were no iPads back then.), and sat in back of the classroom. My friend froze. Everything she did was wrong. She forgot what she was doing, started shaking, and could barely keep track of where she was. This, of course, is what E4E claims teachers are jumping up and down to demand more of.

The following day she went for a post-observation conference. She apologized profusely, and explained her panic attack the best she could. The supervisor told her not to worry. He said he could see she wasn't herself, and that she need not worry about this. It was as though it never happened.

He told her they would start from scratch. He would meet with her and discuss what her lesson would be like, he would tell her what he was looking for, they would agree on a plan, and there was nothing whatsoever for her to worry about. She was greatly relieved.

After that, he did exactly what he said he would. Her observation went smoothly, and her respect for that AP continues to this day.

Imagine how she may have fared with some Leadership Academy automaton with some absurd DOE-generated checklist. Imagine if the AP had to say, "Well, I think you're a good teacher, but you're still going to be discontinued if you don't get enough value-added points."

It's kind of sad to look at the progress in education and see how far backward we've come.
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