Friday, October 05, 2012

How to Fix the Schools - NYTimes.com

How to Fix the Schools - NYTimes.com 
In light of a recent faculty meeting on new evaluation procedures in my building -- and the not-so-subtly implied threat that they carry -- I was speaking with some colleagues and it's apparent that many of the teachers are feeling similarly, that there's a disconnect in the ways that we conduct our jobs. Teachers recognize the resulting mood swings that can occur when one considers all for which we are responsible in the classroom, but especially now when combined with the almost dehumanizing evaluation criteria (and I don't use that term loosely, it's carefully considered: we're robots now, fulfilling evaluation criteria and explicitly charged with leading these students to achievement on standardized tests). With this short Op/Ed piece by Joe Nocera of the New York Times, we realize that there are education researchers that understand our jobs and our challenges far better than the politicians that ultimately guide our careers. What is striking and bears repeating is what Nocera articulated on the current climate of working in schools, speaking from the perspective of school leadership:
It is not possible to make progress with your students if you are at war with your teachers.

So, the discussion could end with that sentiment, as it illuminates facts that we teachers may already understand ourselves, that we are in uncertain, anxious times. Yet it bears mentioning that despite the tone and our resulting mood and morale, teachers collectively understand that we are now essentially reduced to service employees, and anything that we offer over and above that service is what separates us and makes the experience in schools beneficial to our students.