Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Caring For Students Beyond Their Academic Needs

I was observed for the fourth and final time this week.

This one was announced and I had two days of preparation time to get ready for it.

While I was trying to put together a dog/pony show lesson that would satisfy the Danielson rubric-wielding administrator looking for evidence of "rigor," "assessment" and "differentiation," I had to take some time out to do what it is I'm supposed to do and help students.

One student needed help amending her financial aid form - she had drastically underestimated her parents' income because she was using various income documents that were, to be frank, a mess to comprehend.

Amending a FAFSA form shouldn't take that long but making sense of what mom made, what dad made and putting that onto the form so that it added up to their joint married income did - about forty minutes in total.

Then another student needed some help editing an appeal letter to a college she was rejected from.  That took a few minutes, not too long, but when you're supposed to be getting ready for an observation in the high stakes era of "I and bye!" (as in "ineffective"), time matters.

I had a scholarship recommendation to write for a student that was due Friday - this one was my fault, the student had asked before break but I had forgotten to write it and now had to get it done on deadline (which I did.)

Finally another student wanted to talk about some things going on at home that she's been struggling with. I had given her a book I had about "sensitive people" (I keep a library of social and emotional books in my classroom that I lend or give to students I think may be helped from reading them) and she wanted to talk about how one of the chapters had resonated for her.

This is the kind of thing I enjoy about being a teacher - the opportunity to use my talents, skills and experience to help students in various ways, from financial aid help to college counseling work to social/emotional counseling.

None of that work showed up in my observation, of course.

The only thing that matters in an observation these days is the academic stuff - is the material "rigorous," are the assessments comprehensive and ongoing, am I "differentiating" the learning for both higher performing and lower performing students - that sort of thing.

The observation came and went and I'm sure it went fine - I put on the kind of dog/pony show that administrators want to see.

But wouldn't it be nice if some of the other stuff I do that I think is just as valuable as my classroom teaching skill, made it into the observation?

How about "Amended FAFSA form for student despite needing to get lesson plan for dog/pony show done and emailed to administrator"?

How about "Helped a student with family drama going on by listening to her and trying to find some self-help material that student could read on her own to guide her through"?

How about "Cares about students and is willing to help them in whatever way he can"?

Quite frankly, I don't really need acknowledgement for this stuff, because I do it freely and without expectation of that.

In other words, I do not want a pat on the back or a medal for doing what I think is part of my job.

But in this "Era Of The Bad Teacher," it would be nice if evaluations took into account more than just "rigor," "assessment" and the like, because had I not put on a dog/pony show the way the administrator wanted, all that other stuff I did this week to help students wouldn't have saved me from being "ineffective."


  1. Keep a log of your extra help and submit it as "evidence."

  2. RBE, I really enjoyed reading this. It isn't that different than what I have done for the past 34 years. Fortunately, I have been recognized for a lot of this type of stuff, although in recent years none of it has found its way into my annual evaluation. Still, I have fortunately worked with a set of administrators that have been incredibly supportive, through a series of different principals and directors and superintendents. Yes, some left much to be desired (including two principals.) Thank God those individuals were on the scene for only 2 1/2 years and one year.

    The Danielson rubric is a piece of garbage. The first year I was all hyped up about it. Last year I already didn't care. This year I really do not care. Perhaps that is because I can retire in June. More likely because I have administrators that are playing the game rather than playing gotcha with their teachers.

    I plan to try and hang in there for three more years. We'll see how that does. I have 450 sick days banked.

  3. Why be proud of being overworked forced to do 2 3 4 5 jobs. The DOE should hire enough support staff like counsellors to do all those things...

  4. I should have gone the 3 unannounced, one formal route. I can't take the stress of not knowing when the miserable little shithead is going to come in and observe me. He still didn't write up my third, and he's got a sixth sense when teachers are having an off day and that's when he comes in. He will then claim it's not a "gotcha".

    I can see where Danielson CAN work if your administrators are fair minded people and look for the good in a lesson rather than make a point of looking for things that can be interpreted as developing. I can't take it anymore.