Monday, November 24, 2014

On Starting From Square One--Every Year...

When you have a handful of years teaching already safely stored in your pockets, you may not take kindly to a system that forces you to start from square one every year.  The system is stacked against your professionalism.  Last year, I had to hand in "artifacts" to prove that I do what I do every day and I do every day what I have done for the last twenty years.  There are no "artifacts" this year, but I still must prove myself anew.  Those twenty years count for nada.  I am once again at square one and under the microscope of NY State.  I can no longer be trusted.

If I am held up to Danielson each year, perhaps 4d will rear its head again.  I might need to volunteer my time and energy to volunteer service to the school or attend functions that have little to do with my teaching.  If I have done all these things in the past, but now find myself busy with children at home or, perhaps, a pressing medical condition, my past record cannot be used in my defense.  Teachers are currently asked sometimes to chaperone student events.  It is a desperate situation because there is no money in it.  So, the sign indicates: "FULFILLS DANIELSON REQUIREMENTS!"

If my students fail miserably on a high-stakes test any year in the future, it does not matter that I once had AP kids average a 3.828 out of 5 (with 91.4% lined up to receive college credit).  If I helped countless kids get Regents credit in the past, all is washed away.  All the kids who achieved personal victory with me in years past in one form or another are now discounted.  If my kids do well, but not as well as an arcane formula demands from them, I may also be royally wrecked as Dr. Lederman in Great Neck.

I cannot control the things that may suddenly make me appear inept.  If I have 39 students and another teacher has twenty, it doesn't figure into the formula.  If my students are living in poverty and my classroom is underfunded and another teacher has a classroom filled by well-fed children with lots of supplies, it doesn't matter.  If my kids stepped off a plane and cannot tell me much more than their names, and they never attended a school anywhere in the world, it makes little difference.  Sometimes I really feel the people who invented this spiffy system in a seeming vacuum are the ones who really need to be schooled.
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