Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Let Us Be

If you haven't already done so, check out high school teacher William Johnson's confession in the New York Times. It's a straight-from-the-gut piece written from the teachers' perspective regarding current Department of Education policy, particularly rating and evaluating teachers.

Teacher evaluations are a big issue in NYC (and now other U.S. cities), as teacher evaluation data has been released to the public. Charter school teacher data was soon released after that, with some of the ratings quite embarrassing.

Forgetting the controversy of this data being public for just a second, let's focus on the formula that's used to evaluate teachers. Significant research has proved the results of this formula are completely unreliable, but honestly, we didn't need people with doctorates to tell us the formula created by people with doctorates is bullshit. Any evaluation methodology that incorporates standardized testing is bullshit. If you think not, then you probably didn't grow up with students most marginalized in society.

I could be the best teacher in the world, but if my students aren't intrinsically motivated to do well, I won't be rated properly and fairly according to these ridiculous formulas. It won't matter that some of my students will only stay the full day in school if I show up. It won't matter that I am a well-respected teacher by students, parents, teachers and administrators. It won't matter that I single-handedly changed some of my students' trajectories for the better. None of that will matter when you throw standardized test scores into the mix.

When did American society start believing teachers don't have our students' best interests at heart? Why would we join the profession if we didn't feel passionate about it? Newsflash: this gig isn't a minimum-wage position where you fill out a two-page job application and show up. Teachers need a college degree, and in many cases, a masters degree. Teachers need state-level certifications, for which you must pass exams. Does the process of becoming a teacher needs to be reevaluated? Sure, but still, it's still a lot of work to do if you simply want a paycheck and don't care.

One of my colleagues recently wrote a very inspiring post about how he intends to rise above the bullshit. Toxic policies, inaccurate teacher evaluations, incompetent leaders, and uninformed politicians: these are our profession's roadblocks. They're preventing teachers from reaching our full potential. We all want to be like the best teacher we ever had in high school. So let us be.


Miss G said...

AMEN!! Maybe if they published our deans referral log for a week, people's perspectives would change...?

Yo Mista said...

Maybe... for like a week...