Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Adminstrators Need to Own TIPs

A lot of teachers are very upset about TIPs, or Teacher Improvement Plans. However, in NYC, if you're rated developing or ineffective, you get one. They're supposed to be planned cooperatively between teacher and administrator. I'm not always sure that happens, and I've seen ridiculous proposals from administrators that place all the pressure on teachers and none on themselves.

In fact, I've seen administrators write plans for teachers rated effective. Instead of TIPs, they call them TAPs, or Teacher Assistance Plans. This occurs when administrators don't like the rules and decide to just make up their own. We actually have an agreement, and TAPs are no part of it. Tell your chapter leader if you get one, and don't wait.

Nonetheless, this is the system we're in. I'm not entirely sure MOSL measures anything, and that's why it's got such rampant opposition statewide. NYC is a funny place, though. I was sitting next to a chapter leader at the DA, and this chapter leader told me half the staff would've gotten negative ratings if not for MOSL. Last school year, as a direct result of MOSL, none of the members in my building were rated below effective.

The MOSL could go, and in much of the state people want it to. The problem in NYC is the large number of supervisors who do not, in fact, wish to support staff. I've seen some supervisors revel in giving bad ratings. A teacher recently told me she asked her supervisor to help out in a troubled class. The supervisor said, "OK, but if I come in I have to write it up." This is about the farthest thing from support I can think of.

Then you get supervisors who indulge in personal vendettas. They come in on half days when no one is there, and write up teachers because no one is there. They tell you your classes suck and have no suggestions to make them stop sucking. You ask them NOT to come in on a specific day and they show up. Fifteen kids raise their hands and they only see two. They trash you all over the building, in front of anyone and everyone. What can you do with a supervisor like that?

The worst thing to happen to a supervisor like that is to see the despised teacher get a decent rating due to MOSL. There are, of course, things they can do. They can double down, worsen, or even falsify bad observations the next year. Alternatively, they can unilaterally decide to place effective-rated teachers on TAPs. This has the double value of asserting something the system denies, and also demoralizing the teacher in question. It's a WIN-WIN!

Here's the thing--if the TIP doesn't work, and even if the illegal TAP doesn't work, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. This is the failure of the administrator. If I'm gonna be judged by the test scores of my students, administrators ought to be judged by the performance of their teachers. Anyone with a TIP who doesn't improve reflects a direct failure of the administrator.

If they get two consecutive failing TIPs, they ought to be reassigned and face charges. Also, burden of proof should be on them. This would solve two issues. One is the inequity between the way admin and teachers are treated. More importantly, this might help us to shed the incredibly large number of inept and vindictive administrators in NYC.

If we could do that, we would no longer need anything like MOSL, and quality admin could support teachers and teaching, as it does in much of the state.
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