Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A tip of the hat to the New York Times

There are a lot of blogs about the politics of schools. I even "follow" a few. However, it takes a good headline to catch my attention and keep it long enough to slog through the rather long articles. Today one of my favorites, Schools Matter reposted an article from the New York Times by Michael Winerip called Helping Teachers Help Themselves. (Click on the title for the full text of the article)

What held my attention is the details of what Winerip talks about. Best practice states that trust, and community are important in schools. Having teachers be a part of the decision making process lets schools run more effectively. In ROCKVILLE, Md Rockville, Maryland the school has set up a committee to help their teachers. They are involved in helping teachers set goals, mentoring and if the teacher really is resistant to changing and becoming better then they are fired.

Some people may think this would cause distrust among the faculty and among those who are on the committee - but if there is a great deal of trust that the committee is acting for the good of the school most of us who are in it for the kids will be alright. A good teacher is willing to change bad ways to become better even if they're told to do so by their peers. I know I wish that there was more mentoring available for me at the school. It would be great to have more observations of my practice to help me become a better teacher. I teach better when someone else is in the room.

Now... Race to the Top. I have issues with this school district not getting any of the money Maryland was awarded because they don't include student scores on standardized tests into the equation for teachers. Before anyone starts harping let me ask- Is there another profession where your evaluation is based off of work that someone else does? The answer is no. Teacher work should be evaluated off of teacher work. Many and varied observations are required including scheduled and unscheduled. A student's standardized test score is a single snapshot in time. If most teachers are like I am then the stress during the state standardized testing is enough to put the best tester off of their feed for the two months before let alone on the day or week of the testing.

I wish more school districts (like mine!) had a system like this.

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