Sunday, February 28, 2016

Micromanaging Teachers

I'm all for having a consistent set of content standards to which all teachers of a course teach.  I not all for having every class of every course on the same page every day, or requiring everyone to grade exactly the same way:
Because our supervisory district administration aren't really teachers, and our curriculum coordinator used to teach elementary school and some MS social studies, everything must have a rubric or it isn't proper. As well, everything we used to do was BAD and must be changed.

We're being asked, "Do we use a rubric? Since your answer should be 'yes', which one of these four is the one you're all going to use?"

The fact that we spent nearly an hour discussing whether to use the word "proficient", "competent", or "skilled", and whether the top level would be modified with "highly", "advanced", or "with distinction" should give you a good idea of how divorced this all was from real students and real teaching. We never did finish that conversation, but we did begin to spend time arguing over whether the four levels should be considered five if there was a checkbox labelled "Not Enough Data to Measure" in addition to Highly 'word', 'word', Nearly 'word', Beginning 'word'.

The funny part is the explicit statement is that we will use the same rubric throughout the building, that every teacher, in every course, for every student, for every transferable skill (the non-content skills), will use the same rubric to determine proficiency. If any measurement does not use the rubric, it isn't measured properly and cannot be defended as fair and consistent across the board...

Trying to impose a common rubric for AP Calculus and 7th-grade civics is foolish and counter-productive.

Trying to impose consistency even within our department is foolish and counter-productive. He's a math major; I'm an engineer; of course we look at things differently.

He uses the calculators more than I do; I ask for more mental math than he does. "Who's better?" misses the point that, over the course of four years, students get both.
When a teacher is not allowed to use the word "proficient" because it's not a "growth word", something is wrong. Very, very wrong.  When teaching becomes overly scripted and managed, something is wrong.


Anonymous said...

That seems to be a common theme and a top reason for the downfall of education....too many administrators who have little or no classroom experience. Good teachers usually prefer to stay in the classroom while educators who do not enjoy the classroom look for other career paths other than the classroom. Ohio requires only 3 years of classroom experience for administration which is barely getting your feet wet. We have a head administrator in a high school with no high school classroom experience. His assistant has the minimum classroom experience and is obviously looking to move up the administrative ladder by how little effort is being placed in her present position. To top it off both are too young to have kids of their own of high school age so no personal experience with teenagers either. It is no wonder that experienced staff have chosen to retire rather than put up with some of the crap that is being foisted upon them by these "administrators".

Ellen K said...

I actively avoid our building's "leadership team" meetings if at all possible. It seems the main goal is to rubberstamp whatever message is desired by the administration, but they won't tell us what they want that message to be. Instead they spend an inordinate amount of time agonizing over words. A prime example of this is when our principal wanted our school to have a mission statement. I had to sub for someone in the meeting and given the parameters of what they wanted said, was able to write a mission statement in about 15 minutes. Granted, I had done this before, but at the same time it wasn't rocket science. They smilled and did the professional version of patting me on the head and sending me on my way. This committee met four more times for two hours each time and in the end they used my entire statement with one word changed. At a time when we had so many other responsibilities for everything from TELPAS to SpEd, don't we have better things to do with our time?