Responding to the ridicule of teachers and the teaching profession by politicians and self proclaimed "experts"!
"Where is Albert Shanker now that we need him?" - Walt Sautter

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Power of Observation

  I was reading an article in the Ledger the other day entitled, “Rutgers to Grade Teacher Evaluations”. It described how a “team” headed by William Firestone, professor of education at Rutgers and the “principal investigator” will evaluate teachers based half on classroom observations and half on how much progress students show. Teachers will then be graded as “ineffective” to “highly effective”.
  It went on to say “A bill before the Legislature proposes that the new ratings be used as a major factor in determining which teachers receive or lose lifetime tenure and who would be the first to go in the case of layoffs”. (In other words – eliminate tenure and seniority rights.)
  Upon reading this piece I began to reminisce back to my teaching and even my college days. I even recalled some of the incidents that were reported to me by my own children during their college days.   Several things jumped into mind. Firstly, I remembered my son enrolled in classes RU “taught” by instructors you could not speak intelligible English. Were these teachers at RU ever observed and evaluated the Rutgers “team”? Maybe the Rutgers “team” should look into these situations right in their own backyard before they venture out to evaluate the teachers in NJ public schools.
  Additionally, as I recall (of course from many years ago), the education courses that I had to endure were some of the most poorly taught and uninformative of all. I wonder if they still hold that dubious distinction today.
  Lastly, I remember a fact about teacher observations that has always perplexed me. It is the overreaching authority of supervisors to observe any teacher in any subject area, carte blanche. Knowledge of the material is evidently unnecessary in order to make a decision as to the quality of the instruction!
  I really can’t figure out how they can do it!
  I could never imagine myself evaluating a teacher in - say - a French class? I can’t even read a French Restaurant Menu!

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