Sunday, September 20, 2015

 When Do We Teach?

by Patte Carter-Heviato, Member of Michigan BATs




Every year right about this time with the beginning of the school year comes another set of teacher evaluations.

We have received two packets of information. The second one with rubric upon rubric. Rate yourself.
Create three goals, five if you are shooting to be rated highly effective. SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely). Fifty percent of our evaluation tied to student achievement. Half of that half is tied to district scores. Eighty percent of students proficient on state standardized test (test first implemented last year and was nightmarish with not much to be changed for this year) OR students showing 1.5 years’ of academic growth in order to be considered highly effective. One quarter tied to the school scores. School goals are based strictly on math and reading scores. One quarter belongs to the individual teacher, who must use a district approved standardized test in a pre- and post-test capacity.

That’s right. Only one quarter of what constitutes half of my evaluation is based on what I do in the classroom. Although it isn’t even that because it is based on a test.

SMART goals my eye. I have no say. Specific? Yes, for the district. Measureable? A good district travels on its data. Attainable? No. Realistic? Not that either. Timely? Not without attainability or realism.

Walk throughs. Formal observations. Pre-evaluation conference. Post evaluation conference. Formal lesson plan submitted. Are my behavioral expectations clearly posted? Do I have leadership/seven habits information posted? Is the standard for the lesson posted? Do I have something posted to indicate cultural responsiveness? Tentative rating halfway through the school year.

Based on what exactly?

Nothing remotely related to pedagogy. Nothing remotely related to knowledge of child development. Nothing related to best practices in education.

One test to show student benchmark in math. One test to show student benchmark in reading. Scores will be used to place students in remedial math and reading classes. Another set of math and reading tests to come to show student benchmarks for school component of the evaluation piece. A testing schedule to include district tests, school tests, and state standardized tests (the state component alone took up most of the fourth quarter of the school year last year).

When do we teach kids?

From one of my colleagues, a master teacher: “My GOALS - do you really want to know WHAT MY GOALS are? On paper or for real! My goals are to get those kids whom WE know have mental health issues HELP. My goals are to CATCH them BEFORE THEY FALL. And I could go on, but they are NOT what they are looking for in their DOMAINS. Come into my classroom anytime, any day, unannounced - I don't care. But DON'T make me waste my time that I need to invest into helping my students by coming up with and writing out goals that you want to hear.”

Exactly.

There’s a reason why I went into education and not into business. There is no test that measures my students’ successes. There is no evaluation that measures what I do as an educator.

I shouldn’t have to choose between teaching my students what they need to be successful in their present and in their future and teaching them what they may or may not remember and be able to regurgitate for a test.

But if I have to, I will choose to teach students.

The other day, a student wrote to me: “I’m in high school because of u thx.”

One SMART student. In so many ways.

Call this my motto: Achieving highly effective status one student at a time. Alive. Responsible. Respectful. Knowledgeable. Creative. Thoughtful. Thought-provoking. Contributing.

Isn’t that every teacher’s goal?

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