Thursday, September 22, 2005

Notes From The Education Underground: The TeachWonk Diaries

Around California's Howard Taft Junior High School, we are referring to this school term as "The Year of the Nester."

Several times each week, either the principal or one of his two minions assistant principals sneak in the door drop in on all of us teachers' classrooms (unannounced, of course) and sit in the back of the room for 20 minutes or so and "observe" our teaching. Of course, the nester's arrival is a significant disruption to the delivery of the lesson as all eyes go to the door and follow the observer to his seat where he soon comes to resemble some type of overly-large bird sitting astride a clutch of eggs.

Well, the nesters drop in on almost everyone. There is this little group of 5-7 teachers that the Principal likes to have over at his house for those little "Invitation Only" staff parties, (that we aren't supposed to know about but everybody does) and it is said that they don't seem to get very many visits at all...

The principal and his two helpers all have Palm Pilots.

What they do is record the date and time of their little visit, as well as notes on the teacher's classroom management skills, which content standard the lesson is addressing, and whether or not the kids are "engaged."

No, we don't get any feedback about these disruptions visits, at least not yet. We all wonder if the shoe is going to drop.

Of course, all of this is in addition to the regular evaluative process.

And no, the principal's supervisor, Superintendent Dr. Evil, never visits any of the 11 small elementary/middle schools in our district in order to observe his administrators.

Naturally, Dr. Evil would never consider using a Palm Pilot around the members of his own coven administrative staff, since, according to him, "Professional Educators are principals and above," and, as such, must surely merit better than being "watched," and having their activities recorded for posterity.

So I guess most of us teachers around Howard Taft Junior High School are going to have to get used to having the "Nesters" continually interrupt our classroom teaching in order to make sure that we are doing our jobs.

But we don't have to like it.

When I first began serving the parents and children of our community, ours was the premier school district for which to work in California's "Imperial" Valley.

No more.
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