Saturday, February 25, 2012

Defending the Art of Teaching: Assailed Teacher

At a PEP meeting many tears ago when few people attended I raised the concept of measuring teachers. I asked the PEP members and Joel Klein to think back to the 10 best teachers they ever had and what made them that way. I could actually see a brief moment of thought on their faces. I pointed out that you know a good teacher when you see one. All else is pretty much beside the point. There was possibly a second where Klein gave a short nod.

Another long post from Assailed Teacher but here is the essence of teaching as an art that cannot ever be measured. It has been my pleasure to recently meet this blogger who has been teaching for over a decade and said something so important. I'm paraphrasing: "For most of my career I thought all I had to do was focus on teaching my classes to the best of my ability. But now I see there is a much bigger fight going on. It is time for me to get involved." Boy can the movement use guys like this in this struggle.

If one is to list the crimes the UFT leadership has committed against its members, at the top of the list is the refusal to engage in a defense of the core of teaching as this blogger and people like Leonie Haimson do, instead pandering to the ed deformers insane assault on the teaching profession by accepting the very concept that teaching can be measured in any way whether by tests or Danielson.

Value Add This

The New York Times beat everyone else to the punch by releasing the teacher data reports last night. The rest of the news outlets are sure to release them throughout the course of the rest of today.

No, I am not linking to them.

I have taught United States History for as long as I remember. My students generally do well on the U.S. History  Regents. Since I have been at my current school, my  students have had well above a 90%  pass rate every year. Two years ago 100% of my students passed the Regents with over 60% of them scoring 85 or higher.
Teachers like me who generally have students with high pass rates should be  just as outraged over what the DOE and the media are doing with this “value added” garbage as anyone else.

First, the U.S. History Regents is cake. The scoring rubric is so generous that an average  student has to literally try to fail it. Second, the test is usually given to 11th graders, who are more serious and mature than underclassmen. The ones at risk of dropping out have usually done so before the 11th grade.

The scores of my students do not reflect my quality as a teacher. When I used to teach 10th grade Global History, the Regents pass rates of my students were lower. Take me out of 11th grade and put me in front of a 10th grade class and my stats would take a hit.

It reminds me of the famous Casey Stengel line after he went from managing the championship-addicted New York Yankees to the hapless Mets, essentially moving him from first place to worst place. He said “I guess I got dumb in a hurry.”

Read the entire piece: Value Add This

1 comment:

  1. Norm,

    Thank you very much for your touching words, especially in today's post about the art of teaching. For whatever reason, I cannot post comments on any Blogger-supported website, otherwise I would have commented a long time ago,

    I know you have been part of the struggle longer than I have, so I look to you as the dean of teacher activists in NYC. This is just about the most important struggle in which anyone could be involved and I thank you for taking up the cause.

    There needs to be radical shift in the way teachers themselves see the profession. Because so many in NYC are young teachers who are just thankful to have a job, fresh out of education programs that try to scientize teaching, they pretty much go with the flow on everything that happens: the 2005 contract, the ATR agreement and, maybe even now, the new teacher evaluations.

    The veterans that are left, as well as the retirees who still care about the current working conditions in public schools, need to lead the way. NYC public workers have a tradition of activism that must be drawn upon now. If no now, then I am afraid we are all done for, which means especially the children we teach. That's why I'll be there on March 10.

    When you get the chance, I would appreciate if you can cut and paste this into the comments section, just so you and everyone else knows that I appreciate the work you do.

    Assailed Teacher


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