Monday, June 10, 2013

15 Minutes

Years ago, a Principal told me that the AP must write things like barely satisfactory and minimally satisfactory in an observation report so that the final one could show improvement and the AP could justify his job as a teacher mentor.  I resented that at the time and thought it was a pretty crappy thing to do.

In retrospect, maybe it wasn't so bad.  No one lost their jobs or even were threatened with an ineffective or "U" rating.  The only thing bruised were egos and, in truth, many of the recommendations were right on target.  They came from a full period observation done by a person that knew curriculum and had teaching skills.

Today's 15 minute observations do nothing.  There is no insight into how the lesson was developed.  There is no way to see how it flowed from the motivation, to the meat and then to the summary.  There is no way 15 minutes can show what has gone on in the class.  Often the person doing the observing is not even a very good teacher or has expertise in the subject.  There is no way a teacher can get help or even complimented on what they have done.

The 15 minute observation allows the observer to move quickly from room to room.  After all, six observations per teacher per year takes lots of time, time not available if a full period was spent in every class being watched.

It makes me sick thinking about a union that would sign off on a policy like this, a policy that makes it easy to get rid of anyone the administration does not like, a policy that will hurt kids like the one pictured above.  It makes me embarrassed to say I am a UFT member.

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