Friday, June 05, 2015

Up Against a Rubric Wall

Rubrics are the great equalizer. Once you have a list that goes up and down, with various levels at every point, everyone will know what is expected. You are this square, you are that square, and that's the only possible square in which you can reside. Fair is fair, square is square, and you are there without a care. We have extracted that inconvenient human element with 100% efficiency.

Of course, sometimes people see things differently. For example, your supervisor may be batshit crazy. Or maybe he hates you and everything you stand for. Or maybe he holds a grudge for that year you shared the classroom when you failed to erase the board. On the other hand, perhaps he loves you. Maybe he has an entire wall of his studio apartment covered with your pictures. Maybe he has torrid fantasies about you in or out of your classroom. Who knows?

Of course, things need not be so extreme. Thinking people approach one another differently. It's not necessary to lecture and instruct on differentiation when your audience has a modicum of intelligence. Of course, if that's not the case, all your lectures and theories go out the window because non-thinking people tend not to receive or process new information very well anyway.

But regardless of what qualities we have, good, bad or otherwise, we all have our prejudices. We all like certain people better than we like others. And supervisors, too, see us all differently. I hate to be the one to break you this news, but despite everything you've heard, there is no way on God's green earth that every supervisor rates the same lesson in the same way. It doesn't matter how many times they've been trained. It doesn't matter how many times they've been retrained in whatever the rubric wants this year, last year, or next year.

Can I get rated highly effective while you get rated ineffective? Sure. Why not? Maybe I got rated for minute one, which was amazing, while you got rated for minute 7, which sucked beyond all possible question. Or maybe minute 7 was the bestest thing ever but the supervisor wasn't wearing glasses. Maybe his prescription is out of date. Maybe he woke up and put on his wife's glasses instead of his. Or he's Mr. Magoo, can't see at all, and only hears the voices in his head.

But that's the hand you're dealt. And unfortunately, no matter how precisely Charlotte Danielson words her rubric, it's always subject to interpretation. It's really too bad she sold out and allowed her framework to be used for high stakes evaluation. As a supportive and motivational instrument, it could have been used to improve education for children.

As is, it's used to fire teachers. Amazing we live in a society so obsessed with doing such a thing.
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