Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rating of ATRs: Out of Place, Out of Subject Area, Out of Element...Out of Luck

The UFT left the city to its own devices when it comes to supervising and rating the wandering ATRs. The plan they've offered is one by which field supervisors will observe and rate the ATRs, with input from the principals under which they've worked over the year--which, if my math is right, could be up to 35 different principals, yes?

I don't have high hopes for this system working out. The ATR situation is a mess. We have a different ATR in my school every week. I really liked last week's ATR; I even saw him teach part of a class, and thought he was pretty good. He certainly seemed competent to me. But this seemingly solid, knowledgable, hard-working man has been replaced by a different one this week.

Here's a thought: As the ATRs rotate through the system, why not let them stay in one place if a principal likes them? The principal could make a phone call or send an e-mail letting someone know that the ATR teacher is working out well and that s/he would like to retain the ATR teacher as a long-term substitute. That ATR doesn't have to wonder where s/he is headed each week; the school gets a reliable long-term substitute that works well in that particular school; the DOE has one less teacher to find a random place for every week. Problem solved. I'm off to go work for Tweed now and enjoy my BlackBerry/latte/town car budget.

But back to the issue of evaluation. If, as the city claims, one or two formal observations by a principal is insufficient to rate a regularly appointed tenured teacher, then how on Earth do they propose to complete 4, or 6, or whatever the magic number is, observations for a teacher who isn't in the same place, the same subject area, or in front of the same kids for longer than 5 days at a clip? I've never been observed, even informally, while doing a class coverage, and I'd never in a million years want to be. "Survival" is a fine goal for most coverage lessons if you don't know the kids. I can't imagine my job security turning on how well I taught a lesson for which I knew none of the kids, didn't know the subject area, and had been in the school less than a week. (Although if a teacher could actually pull that off, they should be hired, for any vacancy, from wood shop to AP physics to French, immediately, because clearly s/he can do anything.)

Well, good luck, ATRs. It looks like you're going to need it.
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