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."