Category Archives: Meetings

Principal and Teacher Evaluations

I attended the first day of the Principal and Teacher Evaluation Pilot training. Whew! Brutal! Lots of “sit and get” (sitting and being talked to).

The first two hours were introductions. Ugh.

Then we had a couple presentations and short speeches. Eh.

Lastly, we listened to three panels and asked a few questions. I actually enjoyed the panels, but I can’t say I have a far greater and clearer picture of evaluations and how they should be structured.

Sure, we received the state-mandated criteria and the four-tier rating requirements, but really I feel we have less clarity about what constitutes a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” teacher. Everything seems to be up for interpretation, and no category really seems cut and dry about where the line will be drawn.

Here are my questions so far (that will have to be answered in my district):

  • How many categories can be labeled “unsatisfactory” (or below standard) for a teacher to be deemed “unsatisfactory”?
  • How much weight does each category receive?
  • Since data is not required  as a measure (but is required to be used to alter instruction), how much data is required and what data should be kept?
  • How is the state really going to mandate that this work be completed in a year when it took my district five years to complete?

The comment that summed up the day was this: “The mind can absorb what the seat can endure.”

That Super Long Day

I mentioned that I had a “super long day” in a previous post, but it was much less exciting than it may have sounded.

I arrived at school around 6:15 am on Monday last week to get paperwork done for the week, and then I taught from 8:00 until 3:00. Next, I had a meeting from 3:30 – 5:00 at another school; lastly, I subbed for another teacher at a policy meeting from 5:45 – 8:15. It was a looooong day.

What I haven’t said since then is that I also had a 12 hour day that Tuesday, a 13 hour day that Wednesday, and a football trip that got me home that Friday at around 2:30 am.

Exhausted was an understatement come Saturday. This week is busy but nowhere near last week’s insanity. Still, it’s been a great start to the year! :)

One Strike Continues

Even though a judge ordered teachers in the Kent School District to return to work, the teachers voted to continue their strike when 74% of the teachers decided to defy the judge’s ruling. The primary reason for the strike is not money but “The key issue is class size, with teachers saying that not only are the district’s classrooms seriously overcrowded, but many of the students have special needs.”

This is one to watch. We’ll have to see how far into the judicial process this case goes.

McAuliffe and Oemig Road Show

I went to one of the presentations by Senators McAuliffe and Oemig, and I came away thinking that what they say sounds nice and makes the public happy to hear, but they don’t have anything specific to say except that “the system is broken.” “Thanks, but what can you do to help me?” is what I kept thinking.

I got the sense that Oemig does not understand how levies hurt poorer districts much more than his (Kirkland) and that McAuliffe is scattered in her thoughts sticking mainly to agreed upon talking points. However, both appear to want to help, and I appreciate this. At least they are listening.

Oemig really wanted the teachers to define what a “master teacher” is, but of course no one could do it well. Reminds of the definition of obscenity: know it when I see it. Felt like people trying to define their love of one artist over another: lots of feeling words and appreciation without any quantifiable data.

And Oemig is definitely a data guy. He repeated his desire for good data for teachers without naming what it is. All I know is that I’m inundated with data but receive very little usable information from it most of the time. Plus, I have to fight for so long for access to data that it’s normally useless by the time I get it.

I think I echo Ryan’s thoughts when he said, “it’s very easy to see a path to what the WEA feared all along–the good that made people like the bill will evaporate away a section at a time, and what we’ll all have left is onerous new certification requirements and more bureaucracy.” Everything suggested was followed by “but we have to find the money to do it” with no definites detailing from where the increased revenue would come.

I spoke once for about five minutes near the end of the session about the following items, each very briefly:

  • the lack of trust in teachers and the collegiate certification process (thus so many extra requirements),
  • attacking symptoms instead of diseases (i.e. adding certification requirements when not satisfied with the collegiate certification process instead of fixing the problem at the collegiate level),
  • how schools are microcosms of the societies in which they reside,
  • solving social ills must be alongside solving educational ills (pay now for the play pen or later for the state pen), and
  • how time is critical for teachers (grading time, prep time, large class sizes require extra time, useless extras like state required culminating projects, etc.).

Anyone else seen the presentations?

PLC Likes and Dislikes

A quick list of what I like about the PLC process:

  • student learning becomes the focus;
  • teachers share data and ideas;
  • teams are clearly defined;
  • teachers focus on the established standards;
  • no one can opt out;
  • teams are autonomous and make own agendas;
  • teachers will have to discuss how grading should be done; and
  • products are used to measure team progress (not minutes and agendas).

A quick list of what I don’t like about the PLC process:

  • schools/teams with trust issues start way behind the curve;
  • principals will want their items placed somewhere (extra meetings maybe);
  • the state standards are below my department’s standards;
  • teachers may lessen the rigor to focus solely on the standards;
  • teachers’ data may be asked for by others for purposes other than collaboration;
  • PLCs by themselves will not solve all of our problems; and
  • a solid and immediate intervention system must accompany PLCs.

However, I really appreciated a few points brought up by the PLC panel during the Seattle conference:

  • “Having teachers enter data is a waste of teacher time.”
  • Administrators guaranteed to return data to teams within 24 hours of turning in assessments.
  • If the collaboration did not center on student learning, it needed to be eliminated from the conversation.
  • Teacher data would not be used as a part of any sort of evaluative process.