Thursday, September 22, 2011

Maybe A Good Idea, Poorly Implemented

Coming down from on high is a requirement that we take our prep periods and go observe another teacher. Then we'll go over our "checksheet" with that teacher, and in the process, perhaps both of us will improve our teaching.

I'm all about improving my craft, but I have some concerns about this approach.

First, it was stated explicitly that we "build walls" in our classrooms and that we need to collaborate. I raised the issue, who says we don't collaborate? It's actually kind of offensive that that's what's thought of us teachers. I collaborate all the time, just not "officially". Heck, last year I used to take short walks with two other teachers during our common prep period, and during that time we'd discuss classroom-related topics. During one of those walks we came up with and completely designed one of my stats projects! It's certainly nothing I would have come up with on my own.

Second, we're supposed to do this during our prep period. Now it's only one prep period, but we have that time for a reason! We already have "collaboration time" scheduled on Thursday afternoons; our prep periods are for planning lessons, grading, making copies, filling out IEP forms, writing letters of recommendation, communicating with parents, etc. They're not supposed to tell me what to do during that time, it's supposed to be left up to my judgement how best to spend that time.

Lastly, I don't really see it as my place to tell another teacher what they're doing "wrong". If they ask for my suggestions, I'd be happy to give them, but I don't think it's appropriate that I be mandated to give up my planning time to watch another teacher teach. Despite what teachers unions would have us believe, that is the job of administrators. They don't pay me to be an administrator, and I don't want to be an administrator. Why should I perform the tasks of an administrator?

My sense is that this mandated activity will go over like most such mandated activities--you can require us to do it, but you can't require us to care or to take it too seriously. This could have been so much better thought out, and presented so much better.

As it stands now, it's certainly not something to which I look forward with any gusto.


David said...

Mandated activities....comments by a teacher in a post I linked several years ago:

"Our new, young principal has discovered "professional learning communities" and "collaboration".

So what is the first thing he does? He breaks up all of the school's teaching partnerships, some of which went back for a decade."

To which I said:

"I think this kind of thing is related to the growing obsession, in many fields, with technique. Far too many people are so obsessed with methodology/technique that they can't even recognize something unless it's called by precisely the right in the inability to recognize a "professional learning community" if it's called something else (or not named at all.)"

Darren said...

A rose by any other name....