Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Hello, Heaviness

Rodney Dangerfield used to have a routine about heaviness. It followed him everywhere. He'd wake up in the morning and say, "Hello, heaviness." The heaviness would answer. It would say something like, "You're gonna be drinking early today." Dangerfield, of course, felt the heaviness because he didn't get no respect.

In case you hadn't noticed, teachers don't get no respect either. So we feel the heaviness too. Administrators don't understand it. They're too busy writing up observation reports about things that may or may not have happened. It really doesn't matter, as long as they get enough of them done in a timely fashion.

And you, all you have to do is grade stacks of papers, write IEPs, consult with your co-teacher, consult with your other co-teacher, go to your teacher team, go to PD, call the parents, patrol the hall, go to meetings, keep a record so you don't lose your license, go to another school to mark papers, proctor 500 exams, grade 200 more, reflect on all you've done, ask the kids to reflect on it too, write your class midterm, analyze your department midterm, and intervisit with your colleague to show school spirit. Oh, and you have to write lesson plans. And teach the classes. Did I forget that part? Well, you'd better not.

Anyway, the heaviness. It's the Danielson rubric, don't you know. Can your 30-year-old supervisor give the highly effective lesson he expects from you every time he darkens your doorstep? Who knows? It doesn't matter. He read in the book what it is, and goddam it you'd better deliver, or you're on a one-way trip to Palookaville. What's the matter, can't you deal with a few stinking observations?

Well, here's the thing. If you have a supervisor who isn't insane, it's likely you can. But how many of you can say that? And even if you can, this system was expressly designed to get rid of lowlife teachers like you and me. Cuomo said so when Bloomberg wanted to get rid of LIFO. This will thin the herd, he suggested. Then when it didn't, he called the system "baloney," and worked to make it even worse. 50% junk science, because the current system isn't crappy enough. Wear sunglasses and dress hip because your rating is going through a matrix.

Oh, and by the way, because not only do you suck, but your supervisor also sucks for not issuing enough negative ratings, we need outside observers. That's the only way we can make sure we fire enough of those stinking teachers. And make no mistake, that's what the current system was put in place to do. The only reason the system is changing is because it wasn't doing so efficiently enough.

Are we paranoid? Perhaps. But they are out to get us, they've said so quite openly, so maybe we're reacting entirely appropriately. Still, in any case, there's the heaviness. Every day before we go to work, we say, "Hello, heaviness."

Sadly, it's gonna take a lot of work before we can say goodbye.
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