Writing my way through the school year!

Posts tagged ‘administration’

Professional(?) Development

I attended a professional development workshop today.  I spent  three hours with  a roomful of 4th and 5th grade teachers who were being taught strategies from people who work with math, not with  students, math.  They are not teachers.  Yes, they go into classrooms and try out their ideas, but they do not teach.  I and my colleagues sat for three hours in a room, listening to  something we  could have been told  in an half-hour.  And let’s not  forget, the forced collaborative activities, just to liven things up!   They lost us in the first half hour. Have you ever been to a workshop in which teachers have no interest? Hushed, some not so hushed, conversations, doodlings scrawled all over agendas, eye rolling, and blank stares are witnessed all over  the room. Rude? Yes, I agree, but having been stuck in countless situations like these, I empathize.

Why not let teachers choose what they would like as professional development?  I would think that we would know what we need.  I am fortunate to be in a school where my principal values our opinion, however, that is not always true of the district. Not only is attendance mandatory, but then, you are forced to use what you are taught, good or bad.

I have to admit, the first half-hour of the workshop was beneficial,  but the entire workshop would have been even more beneficial and effective  if  the teachers in attendance from various  schools were able to  sit together and share ideas.  Who better to learn from, then another teacher who is successful?  Here’s another idea, why not let us work in our classrooms?  Three hours of classroom time in the middle of the school year?  Manna from heaven, seriously! Why are these options not available to us?  My colleagues and I have come to the conclusion that ” they” are afraid we are going to goof off.  So  like children, our time is monitored.

I’m not saying all district professional development workshops are horrible.  There have been some really good ones, where, I not only learned a lot, but I used what I learned in my classroom.  I would just like to see teachers treated professionally more often, and have our opinion count in the developing of our professionalism.

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Observations,anyone?

A bout twenty years ago, when I was teaching in New York,  I was observed by an “administrator.”  I had about 4 years of teaching under my belt. I was asked how I think I had done, and I replied, “I think it went well.”  He smirked,  “Well, you must think very highly of yourself.”  I won’t go into how I handled that situation, but no violence or profanity were involved. 🙂

Fast forward to 2011.  You would think that after 26 years of teaching, observations would be easy. But no, I still get butterflies in my stomach.  I still feel this need to “perform”. I still feel the need to warn my children to behave because “they” are being observed.(You know they know better) My observation went well, integrating technology wows them every time, but it still made me think.

How can someone possibly know what kind of teacher I am by observing me, once a year, for about an hour? Administrators have so much on their plate, it’s rare that  they enter your classroom, unless you have problems. Many decisions about a teacher are based on these observations, and even if it’s twice a year, it’s still harsh.  I realize that if a teacher is really horrible, there will be  other indicators.  On your observation day there are factors that affect your performance. You might  have a “bad” class, or that day Sammy decided he was going to fight Jason, or the kids just didn’t get it, no matter what you tried.  And we know, there are inept, incompetent, teachers who know how to put on the dog and pony show.  I’ve known teachers who sit at their desk, all day, every day, but the day of their observation, watch out! I have been fortunate to have administrators who use observations for what they are, observations, a chance for compliments and constructive criticism. Unfortunately, many teachers are not that lucky.   I’ve come a long way since that observation in New York, but I guess I still have a little of that young teacher who heard, “You must think very highly of yourself,” lurking inside.

“Goodbye Suckers!”

A colleague invited myself and a few other colleagues to brunch at her house. I thought it was such a wonderful way to begin the school year.   Arriving at her house, I was greeted with a greeting of, “I retired on Friday!” and a glass of mimosa. I wasn’t surprised, this teacher “did her time”, and was weary of all the pettiness and the micromanaging.   She was good at her job, but her sharp tongue towards administration, and sometimes the kids, would get her in trouble. She said what she had to say, consequences be damned! I will miss her political notes sent on a napkin, her brash humor, and charming wit. Gossiping, or trying to, because her hearing was going, as we passed each other in the hallway. The smell of Starbucks coffee in her room, even though no one was supposed to have a coffeemaker! I’m sure the kids will miss her ability to teach, if not her screeching at their inability to sit still and listen. Brunch was a great goodbye, seafood Quiche, and a blueberry pastry,made with fresh blueberries, and the champagne glass filled with mimosa. As I hugged her goodbye, and wished her well, she turned to the group and said, “Goodbye suckers!” She will be missed!

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