Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Can We Agree on a Fair Evaluation System?

That's a tough question. Our esteemed chancellor writes us missives telling us how much he respects and cares for us. Our safety is the most important thing there is. Yet you don't see him setting his foot in a school unless it's pre-screened and a whole lot cleaner than any I've seen over the last decade or two. 

If Regents exams are canceled, and if no student can fail, how exactly are we supposed to come to a fair evaluation system? We can't use Danielson. The participation in online classes, or in socially-distanced masked classes, is something altogether different from that which we've experienced over our careers.

I am big on classroom participation. I love when kids act spontaneously, and nothing makes me happier than seeing some kid get up an take a class over. However, I can't count on that happening, and my plans ensure we'll be doing something productive if it does not. I can't guarantee on any given day that kids will carry me to highly effective. (If you can, more power to you.)

Nonetheless, Danielson herself said that her rubric laid out an ideal, and wasn't intended as a rating system. Of course, that didn't stop her from taking a shit-ton of cash to allow it to be used that way anyway. In fact, it didn't stop her from writing some kind of online rubric too, hoping to cash in further. It's Spaceballs II, The Search for More Money

Let's say we finally agree on something, just for the sake of argument. Let me ask you this--how many times have your supervisors taught socially-distanced classes? How many times have they taught online? I'm gonna go out on a limb and say zero. How can people who've never done the work we do assess how we do it? How do they know what does and does not work, having no experience whatsoever doing it?

And let's say, just for the sake of argument, that we somehow get past that. How many of us have studied or prepared to do what we do now? Have we been trained for this kind of work. Well, if we're online, we had those three days in March when administrators who'd never taught online showed us how to do it. As for the bizarre, socially-distanced classroom, how do we adjust our practice to allow for such frightening and unnatural procedures?

I cannot for the life of me imagine a fair way to assess our work under these conditions. If that were not a sufficient obstacle, consider the large number of vindictive, small-minded boy wonder supervisors, persuaded they know everything because they managed to score a marginally higher-paying gig than we did. I've seen blatant lies in observation, demonstrable via video, and no consequences for said supervisors. Who knows how much of that stuff goes unobserved in unrecorded observations?

Here's what I think--I think we need a moratorium on observations for this year. We aren't doing what we were trained to do. Many of our students are traumatized, and for good reason. Who's to say we aren't traumatized either? If we aren't, I have no idea why not. 

I'd like to be at the table with UFT and the city, but I don't suppose that's gonna happen. I'd like to question people who'd propose things. I'd like the DOE to know just how bad some of its supervisors are, and I'd like the DOE to feel the angst I see in my mailbox every day. It's really pathetic that de Blasio hasn't managed to grow the DOE into something different from what Bloomberg left him. That's just one reason why teachers are so skeptical of his school openings, closings, openings, and closings.

What would be a fair way to evaluate teachers during the pandemic? Am I missing something? If so, what?

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