Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Last Straw

Mr. Green was excited about how his class was going. He had never taught English Language Learners before, but they were great. The kids were enthusiastic and eager to learn. He was surprised at how much he liked teaching them. Many of them picked things up as quickly if not quicker than the native English speakers he'd been teaching for most of his career.

He co-teacher was young and smart. Not only that, but she knew all the new stuff that he hadn't paid particularly strong attention too. Danielson? Who knows from Danielson? Well she did, and she was always making little suggestions that would get you extra brownie points when the muckety mucks surprised you with a visit.

"Whatever you're doing, when they come in, ask some question and then make them turn and talk. Make sure you do it at least once or twice a week so they know what you're talking about."

Well OK, he thought. That makes sense. It doesn't really, but hey, if it gets a few points and you can easily pull it off, why not?

"Make sure after you ask a question you make the kids hold up those red and green things to say whether or not they understand," she said.

"Do you think they will really tell us?" asked Mr. Green.

"No, of course they won't," she said. "But after the supervisors leave we can walk around, look at their work, and find out whether or not they really understand." 

This didn't make much sense. But she was keyed in and he wasn't.

"Make sure you don't spend more than three minutes on the DO NOW," she instructed. "I'll bring in an egg timer."

This didn't make sense either. If there was good conversation going on, why should he stop it? What if one thing led to another, and something really spontaneous happened? He spoke to his co-teacher about it.

"I'll bring the egg timer tomorrow," she said.

Well, that was that. Three minutes for this, eight minutes for that, and you're a highly effective teacher. At this point, Mr. Green wanted nothing more than to be a highly high teacher. Of course you don't get Danielson brownie points for that. On the other hand, a principal at a school three miles away just got caught snorting meth in his car. Maybe it's OK for principals. Mr. Green decided not to find out how it was for teachers.

The next day, Mr. Green decided to alter the aim.

"Yesterday we covered metaphor. Today we are covering dramatic irony."

"You can't write that," said his co-teacher.

"Why not?" asked Mr. Green.

"Well, we have the Common Core goal on the lesson plan. If you write about what you did yesterday, it doesn't jibe with what we're doing today."

That didn't make any sense to Mr. Green. Why couldn't he remind them of what they did yesterday? Certainly it would come up again in conversation, on a test, in their lives, or in any random combination of above. He decided to go to his supervisor and ask about it.

"She's right," said his supervisor. "If someone were in your classroom and rating you via the Danielson rubric, you could certainly get an adverse rating for that."

Mr. Green still wasn't satisfied. He went to his co-teacher's supervisor. She was pretty smart. She would know for sure.

"Well," she said, "If you really wanted to refer back to yesterday's lesson you could do it orally, and not write it on the board. That way, if someone came in, they wouldn't know you had done it."

That was one way to do it, thought Mr. Green.

That was when Mr. Green decided, on the spot, that this would be his last year teaching. He retired in June. He adopted a dog, joined an acting group, dropped 25 pounds, and never once looked back.
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