So yesterday we had walk-throughs. Basically, under the punitive rule of NCLB being that we are a Probationary 3 (I think) school, we have muckety-mucks come in from the… well, I am not sure where this lady came from… to “evaluate” our classes.
So this lady walks into my room with her little checksheet and starts scrutinizing. She checks for things. Mysterious things. Things that are supposed to prove I am teaching and my students are learning.
Having the content standards written on the board seems to be quite important to her. I always have them up but the truth is, I only really do it for the muckety-mucks because in reality, I see virtually no educational value to posting these things on the board. Teaching them is very important. Writing them on the board is practically irrelevant. I mean, it is a reminder to myself of what I am supposed to be doing? That’s kinda like putting a post-it note on my bathroom mirror in the morning reminding myself to “BRUSH YOUR TEETH” isn’t it? And just because the post-it note exists, this doesn’t mean that I will have brushed my teeth. And if the post it note is not there it doesn’t mean I won’t have brushed them either. Writing things on the board such as this strikes me as superfluous… but when you are a muckety-muck with checksheets there are boxes to put X’s through and this seems to be one of the bigger ones.
And how in the heck would she know if I simply put some standards on the board when school started in September and just left the same ones there all year in case muckety-mucks like her popped in for a surprise visit?
Administrators hate those kinds of questions, don’t they?
Overall, I felt “judged” by this woman with all the negative connotation the word “judged” musters. I recall no positive acknowledgement of what I was doing right. (And she walked into a class of high school freshman who were all 100% silent at their desks composing a response to literature based on a novel we were reading — no small feat if you know what it’s like to teach English 9). I obtained no useful feedback as to how my craft could be improved. (But in full disclosure, I sincerely doubt that the input of a muckety-muck who spent a grand total of about 5 minutes in my room would have given her any credibility to comment on my methodologies). And truly, I questioned whether or not she could even step into a high school classroom and actually perform the job she had been assigned to evaluate. She just didn’t seem like she had the verve, the energy, the spirit nor the determination to actually be a real teacher.
But she’s perfectly qualified to evaluate other real teachers, right? Essentially, her short visit left me dispirited.
Then today came and my students rocked a few projects whereby the applied their knowledge of figurative language by creating digital slide shows with musical sound tracks explicating the difference between similes and metaphors through one of 5 themes evident in the novel Tears of a Tiger… and the world was right again.
I mean, I love teaching but the muckety-mucks are like some sort of wet blanket on my fire to do this job. It’s obvious that we, as a nation, don’t trust our professional educators anymore to be professional educators and the fact is, it’s demoralizing. I mean this muckety-muck could have said something positive. She could have tipped her cap to my work ethic, efforts to reach my kids, obvious demonstration of classroom management and on and on and on.
But what did she care about? Her checksheet. And what do I care about? My kids. And you know what, I don’t think they are the same thing.
So yes, I put the standards on the board to avoid confrontation because with so many battles to fight with the muckety-mucks, this seems like one that’s not really worth it. But teaching is not about the checksheets. It’s about the students and I’d venture to say that nowhere on her list were things like “students felt emotionally safe in the environment to express their genuine inner feelings and the educator’s policy of running a Mock Free Zone contributed to a tangible — if ineffable — sense of classroom community.”
Geesh? Why do paper pushers have so much clout?