Thursday, October 17, 2013

If Your Supervisor Isn't Crazy

If that's the case, you have options. While Reformy John King, in his infinite wisdom, saw fit to impose more observations than either the UFT or DOE wanted, and while some of them must be unannounced, there's nothing to stop you from saying, "Hey, I'm doing this great thing today, and why don't you come and see it?"

Now I can't speak for all supervisors, especially the crazy ones. But if I were a supervisor and had 200 more observations to get out of the way, I'd be relieved if someone invited me in to see something worthwhile. Hopefully, everything is. But there is that eye or checklist of the beholder thing with which we all have to deal, so why not let your supervisor see whatever it is you do best?

There are also possibilities if you have negative writeups. I'd advise you, if your supervisor criticized, say, your questioning technique, to go in there and demand suggestions of how to do it better. Then, I'd invite the supervisor in and use precisely those ace questions that were suggested. If further criticism ensued, I'd ask the supervisor why such awful questions were ever suggested in the first place.

Of course none of these things will work if your supervisor is crazy, or if said supervisor hates you and everything you stand for. But don't take it out on the supervisor. It may not be his or her fault. It's entirely possible the principal hates you and everything you stand for, and the supervisor is simply following orders. It's only business. Not personal. Like when the Turk tried to kill Michael Corleone's father.

Of course there's no easy answer. Bill Gates had a vision, and billions of dollars to gently persuade high-ranking individuals who enjoyed suitcases full of cash. He had ideas about testing, ideas about curriculum, and ideas about rating teachers. As John King demonstrated quite clearly in Poughkeepsie, anyone who disagrees with Gates ideas is a special interest, and such opinions will not be tolerated.

So the best you can do is be imaginative, try to work circumstances to your favor, and hope your supervisors are not insane. Hope they aren't vindictive and small-minded. Hope they really want better classroom results. If they don't, you have an even tougher road. Pray that de Blasio wins and initiates a system that's less insane. Go to your local UFT office and make calls to counter the crap Lhota spews over the air waves.

Because the people who designed this system had one thing in mind, and that's firing as many teachers as possible. They don't give a damn about you, me, or the kids we serve. That may not be clear to our union leaders, but it's clearer each day to those of us living through this crazy system.
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