Friday, March 25, 2016

Administrative Letter

Dear Teachers,
It has come to my attention that some of you have been doing the most unthinkable, educationally sound practice ever.  You have been praising your students and congratulating them on getting good grades. This practice has got to stop immediately. Your compliments will only make those who did not do well feel bad and that is not something we want. While praise is important it must come from their peers, not from you.  Students congratulating other students will encourage everyone to do better.  
Remember, it is not your job to say nice things to any of your students.  If you do, I will put a letter in your file and you will be rated ineffective at the end of the year.
Sincerely yours,  

Administrator at Large

PS:  As you know I do not have any real teaching experience and no education courses under my belt but I read about this on a blog on the Internet, written by a shoe salesman in India so it must be correct.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Real Teacher vs Imposter

I have been covering college classes for years, mostly for full time professors, those with PhDs.  Some leave detailed lessons, others just pages in a book.  Some just leave exams.  They all have one thing in common.  They are extremely grateful for what I have done, thank me and request I cover again whenever they need coverage.

Mr. J is a fairly new adjunct.  I was asked to cover his class when he had to attend a meeting.  Mr. J sent me the chapter sections he wanted me to teach which was more than adequate.  I started the class the same way I start every class, asking the students if they had an questions on previous work.  Unlike other classes, these students told me they had no idea what was going on.  The teacher had covered the beginning half of chapter two and the beginning half of chapter 3.  He expected me to finish the second chapter which could not be done unless the students knew the first half.  I did some review and got through about half of what he wanted.  As I always do, I sent an e-mail explaining what I had covered.

Instead of the usual appreciation I got a sharp reprimand and a demand to finish what I was told to finish whenever I covered again. While I don't know for sure, I am betting he needed me to teach material he did not understand himself.

This is the difference between someone who can teach and someone who pretends to know how to teach.  I hope his students fill out their teacher evaluation forms professionally to let the college know this guy is masquerading as a teacher.  They deserve better.

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Real Teacher

One of the benefits of retirement is the ability to take advantage of all the city has to offer and this week I did just that at the Lincoln Center Library for Performing Arts.

Wednesday afternoons, three wonderful opera singers perform in front of an audience and art song master Paul Sperry in the program Joy In Singing. The audience is not only treated to a fantastic afternoon of music but have first hand experience watching a coach bring out the best of voices that are already outstanding.

I am not an opera fan and wasn't even sure I would enjoy this performance but in my quest to experience it all, I gave it a shot and was not disappointed.  I loved the music but I also loved watching the teacher at work.  He did, what all great teachers do.  He praised all the performers, emphasizing their strengths.  And, when he found areas that needed correction, he explained what he wanted without putting down what they had done and demonstrated exactly what he wanted.  He never lost patience with one singer who didn't understand his corrections and worked with her until she got it.

As I watched the evaluation process I thought about teacher evaluations done by assistant principals and principals today.  Mr. Sperry is a master of his craft.  Those evaluating teachers are not masters and many can barely teach, having failed licensing exams and only being in the classroom a very short time. Mr. Sperry knew what he wanted and knew how to demonstrate this.  He was able to bring out the best.  Today's administrators only offer criticism, never ways to correct.  He knew how to do all this without shame and humiliation and every performer who left the stage left feeling good about themselves.  I don't think most teachers would say this after a post evaluation conference.

Every young performer at Joy in Singing learned something and will be better because of this experience.  This is what school administrators have to be able to do for teachers if they truly want the best for their students.

(Picture is sunset in Austin, Texas)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Comment From A Reader

This is a comment on Teacher Shortage post.  Sad treatment of teachers which trickles down to our students is happening everywhere.

Great post. It is pathetic to watch a middle school AP with 5 years of phys ed teaching experience rip apart a 15+ year veteran math teacher who is an amazing teacher. The reason the AP rips her apart? Because he can!! Power hungry trolls most of them are. Teach for 3-5 years, get your admin degree from Touro "University" and presto!!! You are an instant expert administrator. Pathetic. 

(Picture from Subway Art  Tour is run by Phil Desiere one of the most amazing tour guides I have ever met.  He is informative and entertaining and his tours are not bank breakers.  Anyone who wants to learn about the city and likes to walk should consider one of his tours.) 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Teacher Shortage

No wonder NYS has a shortage of teachers. It is no wonder teachers, good experienced teachers are getting out as soon as they can, fleeing from even the best schools in the city.

I have not only heard the stories, but have witnessed personally ineffective, know nothing administrators ripping apart good,experienced, caring teachers because they have minds that work and refuse to cow tow to administrators who know less than the students they are in charge of.