Sunday, February 24, 2013

At least it's not Marzano

I have read countless articles this past week. Articles about teacher evaluation systems. Articles about charter schools, fraud in charter schools, articles about teaching and learning, articles about the rally in Texas, and the latest trends in technology and pedagogy. I like to think I'm a good teacher and that's what good teachers do in their spare time, if they have any.

We had our workshop this week about the new evaluation system. The best thing I can say about it that it's not Marzano. My best friend teaches in a district that is using Marzano. They have 9 domains with 40 some odd sub domains and well over a hundred indicators. For laymen, indicators are the actual goals in a standardized system. When we write our objectives and address "standards", the indicators are what the students will actually do. So in our system, the indicators are what we will actually do. Our system, based on Charlotte Danielson's framework for teaching, has about 100 indicators. The "Framework" was also on my reading list this week. (Is it any wonder I've spent my Saturday reading some poor excuse for a young adult novel, just to relax my brain.)

Their new favorite word is "outcomes", which basically means how everything we do will effect student learning and/or test scores. They didn't even mention the other half of the evaluation. They didn't want to draw our attention to the fact that even if we are God's gift to teaching, and perform as "distinguished" members of the teaching profession, it won't matter because 50% of our "grade" is based on "student growth" i.e. test scores, that of our class and that of the school overall. Not too bad if you are in a "good" school like mine, but if you are in a "focus" or "priority" school where test scores are fairly low, you're basically screwed. Not because you're a bad teacher, just because of the student population.

I can't complain about the "framework" for teaching too much. Frankly, I think it does outline what some could consider "great teaching". However, it will require REAMS of paper to notate everything we do to PROVE we are doing the job. Everything teachers keep in their heads, from the kids interests, their aptitudes, learning styles, their strengths and weakness, their progress, now has to be written down on paper for someone to believe we are doing what needs to be done as a form of accountability. Then to hear a parent actually say to me, "Well I think you should be accountable for their test scores." I wanted to throw up. I'm accountable everyday to my students. If the students and I do everything we are supposed to do, test score SHOULD take care of themselves. Sadly, that is not the case. There is far too much bias in these test and they are staked against children are poor, English Language learners, and special needs. You know what I am accountable for? Making sure the kids learn something regardless of what the TEST says.

So I sit here like a stereotypical woman binging on chocolate, balancing my check book with yet another zero balance wondering why I do it. Why do I torture myself like this? Then I get to read another article, two in fact, about the demoralization of teachers. Uh, yeah, I'm pretty demoralized. However, my kids still make me smile. I guess I'll be doing this a little longer after all.

(More to come on the framework later, like when I'm done reading all 100 pages of it.)

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