Writing my way through the school year!

It began in September. We received news that our school was going to be audited.  They called it CSR, the Comprehensive Success Review. We were told it would be for our own good. A group of people from the state would come in, observe us for one day, and then offer their wisdom on how to make us better. (I found out later that this was originally done for “under improvement” schools, but the district thought it was so great, all schools in the district should benefit. Hmm..I wonder how much this cost?)

So, from September to November, everything we discussed was related to  CSR. Copies of our Mission statement were copied and pasted all around the school.  Teachers who were going to be interviewed were given copies of the questions.  Meetings were held to come up with the “right answers” for each question. Anything we talked about were followed by the words, “We have to be ready for the CSR.”  Every week something else was placed before us, something else we had to do to prepare for CSR. We had to prepare our students for the day, letting them know that total strangers would be walking in and out of our room, at will, all day long.  Talk about stress!

The day arrived, and we had total strangers/ District people walk in and out of our rooms. They would watch a lesson for about 5 minutes, take notes, and then leave.  Most of the people were from the District, 2 or 3 from the state.(?) I still don’t know. And as suddenly as it began, it was over.

They came back to meet with the principal, and then came back again to meet with the staff. As you probably guessed, they posted an over 100 page document on the Smartboard and proceeded to go through what they felt was the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I sat there, amazed at what they believed to be important to help us educate our children as opposed to what I know is important.

The funniest(and not ha ha funny), was when a former principal (hasn’t been in a classroom for years), proceeded to explain to us (many times)that:

1. The people who observed us, used to be educators and they are experts in their field. (When was the last time they were in a classroom?)

2. The one day they observed us actually counted as 3 days, because x number of people observed y number of teachers z number of minutes. (If you understand his logic,  please enlighten me.)

3.  The use of the word “rigor”, and how they did not see “rigor” in most of the classrooms. (I am all for raising the standards for our kids, however, I am against the use of  the “word of the month.”)

The torture finally ended and they left us. My principal kept us another 20 minutes to go over what he said, and ask us how we would implement these wonderful suggestions in our classroom.  Her coach assured us that she was there for us, and any research we needed done, she would be glad to help. Wow!

There was a bright spot. Three teachers were considered exemplary because, when they were observed, they were using Words Their Way (District mandated program)in an innovative way! Really? Not taking away from those teachers, but was that the only good educational practice they observed in one (ooops, I mean, three) days?

Anyway, it’s over. Well, except for the fact that the district will check to see how we have implemented the recommendations offered.  Aaaargh! I don’t mind constructive criticism, ideas , and strategies that will make us better educators, but is this really the way?  Is this really about teacher accountability or is this a way to validate what we are doing with RTT funds? Maybe I’m missing something, but there has to be a better way!

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