Saturday, March 28, 2009

Git Er Done

Larry The Cable Guy is one of my favorite comedians. Even though some of his politics are way to conservative for me, I like his openness and his candor and the way he just wants to get everything done.

The emphasis on goals this year made me think of him. Goals are what is important. Achieving success is not as important as looking like we are achieving success. We were given a list of goals before parent teacher conferences and told to check off one for every child we saw. I took one look at the goals and chucked the paper. I refuse to tell a parent that the goal I have for their child is to practice every night. My goals are simple. Come to class prepared to work. Do your homework. Study. Learn to think. Pass the class.

Mr. AP asked some parents to check that their child was taking notes in class. The parent felt that it was not his responsibility. Now Mr. AP wants each teacher to check that the kids are taking notes.

Goal #1: Parents will take more responsibility for their child's learning. They don't have to be an expert in the field of mathematics to see that the child is taking notes in class and doing homework.

One of the parents I spoke to last night was upset because there was no real plan in place to give her daughter the extra help she needs to pass math. The girl is sweet, hard working and very limited in mathematics. Tutoring in the library does not fulfill this girl's needs. I agree. Last week, I was working with six kids at the same time, four of them were in different classes. It was impossible to help them with more than one or two problems apiece. The librarian wanted to bring over three more kids and got upset when I told her absolutely NO!!!!!!

Goal #2 to our administration: Provide real help to struggling students, not help that looks good on paper.

Another parent was grateful that her daughter was finally going back to her classes instead of wandering the halls. Unfortunately, there are still too many kids (one is too many as far as I am concerned) wandering around.

Goal #3 to our administration: Come up with a real plan to get the kids back in classes. Offer them support to get them to keep going to class.

I got a new student in my geometry class this week. I went to her former teacher to try to find out why the change was made this late in the term. I discovered that the girl was not doing well in her honors class. I asked why she was put in a remedial class instead of a regular class. The teacher did not know, but felt it was the wrong class. I went to guidance to get it changed. The counselor was adamant about it not being her decision and I had to go over her head to help get the girl in the correct class.

Goal #4 to the guidance counselors: If someone asks you to do something that you know is wrong, don't do it. You have a great supervisor, go to her and get her to help you make the right decision. I know most of you are barely out of diapers, but you are in the grown up world now. Learn to stand up. Learn to think. Stop taking orders blindly.

Goal #5: If you recommend a change, follow through to make sure the change was done correctly. Don't be afraid of consequences. You have tenure. Nothing is going to happen to you because you made an inquiry.

The teacher above was afraid she would be yelled at because of this change and was afraid to do anything herself, yet she was happy the girl was gong to be put in the correct class immediately.

And, while I am on guidance counselors

Goal #6: When a parent calls you and wants you to arrange individual tutoring with a certain teacher for their child, say NO!!!!! Do not put the onus on the teacher. You know that teachers are not operating as private tutors in the building.

And finally,

Goal #7: Stop wasting paper and time on goals. Get ER Done!


hobbitt said...

My business professor husband has a book entitled, _Never_confuse_a_Memo_with_Doing_Something_. That and we are both with our jobs and attitude toward life asking for evidence and measurability. I can't test "work harder." I can test "come in for help two times a week." (and if there is no improvement, three times...

proofoflife said...

sounds like sound goals to me!

17 (really 15) more years said...

You mean the goals crap has made its way to the high school level? I am so sick and tired of all this extra nonsense that has absolutely nothing to do with teaching.

Ms. Tsouris said...

And an additional memo to nubile guidance counselors: get over yourself, do your job, take responsibility, and most of all STOP BLAMING TEACHERS for your errors or oversights. We will work together a lot better if you would just grow up and stop acting as if you need your parents with you on the job.

Anonymous said...

Goal #1: To Administrators:
If you see incompetent teachers who are so boring and have no idea that no child is learning - Go after them relentlessly. Make sure you do what you have to do to either make them better teachers or get rid of them.

Goal #2: To Administrators:
Provide meaningful feedback to teachers so that they grow as professional. Provide meaningful and quality Professional Development that makes teachers more qualified to meet the different needs of children. If they don't value the effort and don't get better see #1.

Goal #3: To Teachers:
Make what you teach relevant. Stress the connections of what you teach to the outside world. Show how what you teach is used in the real world otherwise risk students seeing everything that you do as irrelevant therefore likely to skip class.

Goal #4: To Teachers:
Use differentiated teaching methods to reach all students. Make homework meaningful. Give tests that actually align with the material covered. Look at test scores, monitor student progress, and adjust. If students aren't getting it, stop and reteach don't keep going.

Goal #5: To Teachers:
Be committed to Life Long learning. Don't be so arrogant that you feel that you can't learn anything new in the teaching profession. Try different things, grow as a professional.

Goal #6: To Teachers:
If you don't believe in goal setting, leave education and go into the real world of white collar & blue collared jobs where Goal setting happens everyday. Where people are measured on their progress and their achievements. Teaching young people how to be successful is part of a teacher's job.

Big Day tomorrow... if I have time I will set some goals for parents and students.

Michelle Rhee

Pissedoffteacher said...

Wow Michelle, you sound just like an Educational Scientist. Too bad you have no real education background like a real education scientist would have.

I'd like to know how to make some of these curriculums meaningful to kids with IQ's of 70, kids who can barely read and do arithmetic but are forced to take algebra and geometry.

I'd like to know how I can be expected to finish teaching a course if I must go back and reteach everything that I have already taught.

And while I agree that incompetent teachers should not be in the classroom, I would hope that the conclusion that they are incompetent is not arrived at in an incompetent manner. I would hope that you make sure all the administrators around are capable of doing their jobs as well.

Joel Klein said...

Michelle--your goals are once again blaming teachers for all the ills of the school system.

How about a goal to make curriuclums more meaningful?

How about a goal to reduce class size?

How about a goal to give teachers time to actually help students instead of bogging them down with meaningless paperwork and goal writing? Just because a goal is not written does not mean it does not exist.

How about telling us how we can differentiate in classes of 34 kids?

How about any of the goals mentioned in this post? This teacher sounds like she wants to teach and cares about her students. Do you?

Can a teacher really set the goal for a student to come to class? And, when that goal is met, must the student be passed, even if the student has done no work? How about the student that now comes to class but sits with their i-pod or cell phone out all period? The first goal was met. And, why should some students have higher bars to get the same passing grade?

Good teachers have goal set for years. Teaching children is very different than working anywhere else. If you had ever done that you would know. Our "products" have more issues than anyone can imagine.

Anonymous said...

Well said Joel. You might not be as bad as most New Yorkers think you are.

Ms. George said...

Why won't anyone write a goal for the student so that the student is responsible for something?
Oh, I know, the student's job is to be 'learned' as in "learn me, teacher"...