Friday, June 08, 2018

Two Observations

That's the state minimum, and that's what a lot of us would like to see in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. If I were a supervisor, I'd jump for joy at the prospect. I don't know how it is where you work, but my school is enormous. I think my AP has 40 people to observe four times a year, and then she has to write each one up and meet with everyone. I write very fast, but I would find that daunting. So I don't think CSA will be fighting us on that.

There's a school of thought that if administrators are kept busy doing observations they won't have time to do other stuff, like put letters in people's files. Alas, I'm here to testify that's not true. If it were, I might be asking for fifteen observations. In fact, if they had to observe us fifteen times it might work. But it still wouldn't help.

Teachers are nervous wrecks. No matter how many times I see people say only one percent of teachers were rated ineffective, or whatever it is, I have people come to me nervous and unhappy. Why am I developing for this? How could I have been doing this for fifteen years and be told I'm making baby steps? I understand. My former co-blogger Arwen wrote a great piece comparing old and new observations. There's quite a difference between thoughtful and/ or spontaneous reactions and a checklist.

Most teachers I know look at the thing, check to see everything is effective, take a deep breath and move on. Then they relax for a few days, thinking the supervisor probably won't come in so soon again. That, of course, assumes the observation from January has been written up before June, which it may or may not have.

Anyway we're stuck with this system. The rubric thing may or may not change with the next contract, but who knows how? Assuming it stays the same, every working teacher I know would like fewer observations. Maybe two, with at least one announced, would be reasonable. Who wants to sit around and wonder when Boy Wonder is going to come in, put on his blinders, and record whatever utterances the voices in his head make? Even teachers with great supervisors and great ratings feel the stress.

We have to look closely, though, at the option of two observations. Supervisors come and go, and if your Not Insane supervisor decides tomorrow morning to travel to Arizona on a Vision Quest, Boy Wonder could take over your department. What if you've taken the two observations and they both suck?

I think the two observations should be an option if you and your supervisor agree. Two good observations and your minimum is fulfilled. Let Boy Wonder observe everyone four times. He can't and won't help anyone anyway. Let the good supervisors focus on helping those who need further support.

An argument I've heard against fewer observations is that people do better with more. I don't doubt that. So let people who need to do better have more. If I've gotten rated effective twice, let's cut bait and start again next year. If students report that I'm dancing instead of teaching, let the supervisor come in and check. Let her write me up if it's true. If it's not, we've still got our two done.

Make no mistake, I'd like to scrap this law and system altogether. Meanwhile, this is my best idea of how to improve the current system as long as we're stuck with it.

What's yours?
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