Monday, September 10, 2018

The Quest to Become an Administrator

One morning I walked into a department office and found three teachers. One was at a computer. Another was at a desk, eating a sandwich. A third was standing on a table. I found that a little odd. The person on the table, though, was not particularly happy. This was evident. I asked what the problem was.

"There's a MOUSE in the corner there. This office is INFESTED."

That didn't sound good at all. I said there was a custodial form that was available in the office downstairs. Fill it out, make a copy, and if nothing happened I'd bring it up in committee with the principal.

"I can't do that," the teacher said. Evidently, this teacher was in this committee, that committee, and some other committee as well. I didn't really understand why that was relevant. I mean, I'm on more committees than that person is, and I complain all the time.

So why are people on all these committees? Is it because they love the school and want to pitch in? I mean, that's what Danielson would say. It's not enough that you go to the meetings you're required to be at. You should go to some other meeting, or PD, or something. That would be viable evidence of your enthusiasm. It would not, of course, suggest that you only did it because you were trying to up your rating, and I must be deeply cynical to even imagine such a thing. No, being there is absolute proof you love being there.

On the other hand, you might argue that a concern for health and sanitary conditions shows you care as well. I could argue that dragging UFT in every year to inspect the trailers, so that the inevitable mold can be remediated, ought to get me Danielson points. I might argue that grieving the conditions in a room full of diesel fumes from the custodial workshop next door ought to get me Danielson points. I might argue that grieving the windowless rooms until some sort of adequate ventilation system was established should earn points as well.

Yet none of the above gets me credit. If I want credit I have to sit through some PD about why kids shouldn't be late to class. After all, how will I ever learn that kids shouldn't be late to class unless I sit through a PD about it? And how will I learn how to stop kids from being late unless I sit through a PD and have someone tell me about it? There is absolutely zero possibility I will work out that, or any other issue, in my feeble mind and come up with a solution.

And yet this other teacher, despite being on all those committees, could not write a report about a mouse in the office. A few months later, we were given a directive by the principal to document every instance of classroom participation. This was the result of some memo written by some random genius at Tweed saying we had to use a rubric or something, and that our memory of what happened in class was insufficient to document participation.

"How can I do that?" the teacher asked. "There is no way I can do that and also teach."

That, in fact, was my thought exactly. I told the teacher not to worry, and that I was doing something about it. What I did was file a paperwork complaint. We argued, basically, that this was extra paperwork we were never before required to do. This was ironic, because at the moment I was experimenting with a program called classroom dojo or something. I was, in fact, recording participation in real time. However, I was only able to do that because I had a co-teacher. When I was leading the class I'd hand over my laptop to the co-teacher and she'd record.

We won that paperwork complaint. The Tweed genius was overruled by someone above his pay grade, and teachers were allowed to record participation via memory. It's kind of remarkable how little some Tweedies know about what goes on in actual classrooms. If I don't know who participates, and who doesn't, it probably means I haven't been attending my own class. Or maybe I was asleep and not paying attention. Despite what I read in the local papers, I don't know a whole lot of teachers who sleep in their own classes.

Anyway, the teacher who would not report the mouse has moved on and is now an assistant principal. A cynic might question why this teacher was on all those committees, or why this person wouldn't report the mice that were clearly very usetting. So here's the question--was this teacher on all these committees to acquire the professional enrichment deemed so important by Charlotte Danielson? Or was this teacher, in fact, only doing this as a stepping stone to become an administrator?

Also, as an administrator, will this person report future mice in the new office? Or will this person ignore them? I can only suppose it will depend on whether reporting the mice or not will help this person to become principal. Do you want this person to become your principal?

Or is this person your principal already?
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