Saturday, February 20, 2016

Mon Cri De Coeur

My rating for the Midyear Evaluation is INEFFECTIVE. I am a moron who can barely tie my shoes....
The two most challenging aspects of the demise of my so called career are the humiliation and the concomitant anxiety. I generally awake twice each night and my entire being is affected by the unremitting criticism. I look forward to life after elementary school teaching. I hope and I pray that my district in their infinite wisdom will discover teachers more dedicated and better prepared than I to guide our children into productive adult lives.... Newark teacher
Dropped into the ed notes inbox.

Mon Cri De Coeur

It has been confirmed beyond a reasonable doubt that I am not only an incompetent teacher, but an idiot to boot. Yesterday afternoon I met with my administrator for my Midyear Review. My areas of insufficiency include the following. It is unfortunately not a complete list because I do admit to experiencing brain freeze at certain crucial moments of the presentation.

First and foremost, my lessons lack direct instruction, which I was informed refers to my lack of modeling. My kindergarten and first grade ESL (English as a Second Language) student work folders, which I proudly shared, reflect a variety of assignments and rubric scores, but sadly they lack comments and evidence of revisions.

My administrator freely admitted that my charges would most likely not be able to read my comments so they would serve as reminders for me of what skills I need to target next. At present, I have forty four students. Although I was able to describe my students’ progress on the high end, I was unable to articulate an accurate portrayal of the low end of my groups. I am not to make critical remarks about my students such as, “He cannot do much.” Unbeknownst to me, the student work needs to be analyzed in reference to the Common Core Standards. Despite the fact that I am administering pre and post tests for each curricular unit, I am not utilizing the data to drive instruction. The next step will be instruction on planning lessons to reteach the skills in accordance with the data I am collecting. In my numerous conferences with parents, I am not sharing the data. My most egregious sin is I am not implementing a Balanced Literacy Program of Readers Workshop and Writers Workshop as developed by the infamous Lucy Calkins.

The coup de grace is my areas of proficiency. I am never tardy and my attendance record is satisfactory. I have built a good classroom culture with rules in place for my students. My lesson plan objectives are aligned with the appropriate Common Core Standards. I can hold the students’ attention and they exhibit enthusiasm for my lessons. I have attended numerous professional development workshops. I participate in grade level meetings and I collaborate with my grade level cohort to plan units. I cooperate with my ESL colleagues to screen students and provide information for district reports. I have completed my assigned readings of the acclaimed Teach Like a Champion (Lemov) and Launching the Writers Workshop (Calkins). Best of all, I do not give my administrator “attitude.” I attend the sessions as required by my CAP (Corrective Action Plan) and I am respectful. An illustration of my lack of “attitude” would be how I sit in the meetings like a good little girl, dutifully record everything in my trusty little notebook and ask pertinent questions.

My rating for the Midyear Evaluation is INEFFECTIVE. I am a moron who can barely tie my shoes. I am three quarters of the way down the road to being brought up on tenure charges. As I reflect on my practice, I have to entertain the possibility that this is the first time in my life that I have been accused of being inarticulate.

When I was about four years old, my older cousin David challenged me to shut up for a complete timed minute and I was unsuccessful. I was given the opportunity to observe two fellow teachers whose combined ages are roughly equivalent to my own. It is my role to emulate their practice. In my upbringing, respect for my elders was encouraged with the expectation that when I would be older, younger people would respect me. As a teacher, I was advised to seek out best practices that are evidence based. Lemov asserts that his methods were formulated by observing teachers primarily in charter schools. As for Calkins, I have yet to read any research on her recommendations. She does disparage ESL instruction nicely in one of her numerous volumes as Second Language Learners sitting around looking at flashcards when they would be better off participating in Writers Workshop.

My administrator held out hope of redemption to be accomplished by investing a lot more time. I responded that I am spending on average six hours every two weeks planning the lessons that are considered to be crappy and often in need of revision. In my view, it is unrealistic to expect that I could climb the mountain of proficiency in the little time remaining in the school year. The two most challenging aspects of the demise of my so called career are the humiliation and the concomitant anxiety. I generally awake twice each night and my entire being is affected by the unremitting criticism. I look forward to life after elementary school teaching. I hope and I pray that my district in their infinite wisdom will discover teachers more dedicated and better prepared than I to guide our children into productive adult lives.

Abigail Shure

6 comments:

  1. Dear Abigail,

    I taught for three years--2009 to 2012--in a community high school in the Soundview section of the Bronx. I was a special education math teacher and I came to teaching late in my career. I worked for a principal whose bipolarity was legendary. She demonstrated daily that she had no understanding, whatsoever, about what actually happens inside a classroom.

    Late in 2010, she handed me the Common Core Standards for Mathematics and told me to attend two PDs she'd arranged about how to implement them. In early 2011, she told me to rewrite all my existing lesson plans, and to align new lesson plans, so that they conformed to the CCSM. In late 2011, she observed me for the first time using a rudimentary version of the Danielson rubric and evaluated me, in part, on the basis of how well I implemented the CCSM. In early 2012, she observed and evaluated me for the first time with the full Danielson rubric (which was a violation of then-current DOE rules and regulations)and against the CCSM. The lesson that I taught for the evaluation was "factoring quadratic equations." She told me that I had a good classroom presence and then spent thirty minutes describing to me every one of the many reasons why my pedagogy was inadequate. When I looked her in the eye and asked her to demonstrate for me how to "differentiate" the factoring of quadratic equations that would be effective for my students with IEPS and in a manner that would be satisfactory to her she threw me out of her office.

    I looked at my watch to calculate whether I'd have enough time after the dismissal bell rang at 2:58 to run down Story Avenue to catch the BX 5 bus to the Hunts Point No. 6 stop, get to 125th Street so that I could transfer to the 4/5, get off at Wall Street, run down to Water Street and get through the doors of the Teachers Retirement System before it closed at 4:30. I thought it was worth a try. I ran in the door to TRS at 4:25. By 5:00 I had an appointment for my "final consultation" (I'd worked in New York City and State government long enough to have pensionable time and service). I resigned from the Department of Education in early 2012 and submitted my papers on May 1. The retirement rep at TRS looked at me and said, "Sir, you look more relieved than most people do and most people look relieved when I stamp their papers."

    I recount all this for no other reason than to praise the Lord for offering me completely undeserved salvation. I saw in late 2011 the disaster that was awaiting public school teachers and was able to get out before the ground opened up underneath me.

    I am not sure that I have ever read anything as poignant as your message to Norm Scott tonight. I believe in the efficacy of prayer. I will pray for you tonight that you may find peace of mind and the strength to carry on. I will pray for every every teacher in this state and across the country who bears this burden and carries this pain.

    Be well, Abigail, and know that you have many friends who want only the best for you and your students.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Harris! You once responded to a comment I wrote on another blog asking if I believed in the Tooth Fairy. I no longer believe in the Tooth Fairy.

      Abigail Shure

      Delete
  2. You have only one problem: you are about fifty which means you have been put on the "cut loose" pile as they are dying to get rid of you for cheaper staff. While we have a lot of decent young people in my building, many cannot take their eyes off the cell phone long enough to see what the kids are doing. It's OK. They are lauded just for finding the key to the bathroom. They are told they are "special" each day and they all think they are prom queen and king. The administration is flushing our building down the sewer by selecting a new group of experienced teachers to eradicate each fall. When your health breaks and you use up your sick leave, they move in for the final kill. Thank you Bill Gates, Jack Welch, and Randi.
    Postscript: what my friend the ESL teacher is required to do changes every few weeks which is bizarre and insane!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks 3:43! I am I the cusp of 60 so I was granted an extra ten years. The young teachers in my district are all very special too.

      Abigail Shure

      Delete
  3. What a sad situation, played out over and over all over the country.

    The way I see it, you have 2 choices-stay or leave. Personally, I'm a runner, so I'd be planning my exit. A nursing degree, an RN, is lots of (undergraduate) science, but about 30-40 credits. It's manageable and can be started part-time. It's a helping profession, like teaching, and the reformers haven't targeted it yet. A Master's of Library Science is about 36 credits. Another degree that can be started part-time. Neither is as good as teaching, but at the end of the day, we all have bills to pay. These are just 2 examples, but I'm sure that there are others. And for goodness sake, don't go to a private school to get these degrees. Incur as little debt as possible. I've also read that some people get into real estate, work for private schools or work in other civil service jobs.

    You seem like more of a fighter. If you were a runner, I think that you would have left already. Do you have a lawyer in the family? That is helpful. Lederman, from Long Island, and her lawyer husband are good examples. I heard of another teacher who asked her nephew-lawyer to get involved when she got an unfair evaluation, which worked for her. Another approach is more political. You seem to get along with the principal, but are you almost "a friend"? How about with the rest of the staff? There's an old saying that "Doctors who are friends, don't get sued." I remember a teacher who was not targeted- not because she kept order in the class, because she didn't- but because she got along and was really friendly. Casual compliments, lots of laughs, "confidential" asides, she seemed to always know what to say. Do you read Chaz's School Daze? Awhile back he had a commenter who referenced this topic. His comments are after some of Chaz's posts from 11/7/15 to 12/2/15. They are a little over the top, but you'll get the idea.

    Of course, you could get lucky and the principal could get a promotion out of the building. You never know. But one thing is certain, you are a good teacher. No matter what choice you make, you are a good teacher. Never let anyone tell you different.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks 2:10! My mother was a librarian. You give me more credit than I deserve. I have eight ancient credits in Biology.

      Abigail Shure

      Delete

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