Friday, October 18, 2013

maternity leave, teacher evaluations

      So I'm on maternity leave, which is very relaxing. I'm due Oct 27, so mostly I'm just waiting, waddling around, and paying incessant attention to every small tightening of my stomach. It's very strange being suddenly 30 lbs. heavier than normal. I check this website many times a day. Today I have a 3.3% chance of going into labor.
       I sleep until 10:30 every morning. Then I get up and plan some new units, do CT Art tests, watch one of Greg's videos, or do a little laundry/ household organizing/cake-baking. I watched all of Breaking Bad and a fun series called Sherlock. I read a lot of news. If anyone has a recommendation for a good book, I'm all ears.

      It may amuse you to hear that my all important teacher evaluation this year will be based 60% on classroom evaluation, and 40% on a "value-added data/metric." The latter part makes sense, right? I should be making a positive and measurable impact on my students' performance. If their ratings go up, I'm doing a good job, and if they don't, I'm not. Simple! Thank god for the objective, a priori accurate USCF rating system!
     The classroom evaluation system is not totally unreasonable, but puts a lot of emphasis on having students lead the discussion and (bizarrely) correct each other's misbehavior. I think this approach works a bit better with subjects like English than chess. Of course it's always nice to have a student centered classroom, but when there is a certain amount of technical knowledge that needs teaching, the students have to reach a minimum competency level before their opinions matter. In any case, I've been teaching for a while and I'm not worried about the observation part of the rating.
      If I get a combined score of 64 points or less (=ineffective) two years in a row, I'm automatically fired.
     The problem is that the value added metric they are using for me (and for Jonathan, who teaches art, and for the gym teachers, computer teachers, cooking teacher, etc.) is the growth in math and English scores from other teachers in the building. So even if I score perfectly on the observation part, if the kids do badly on their standardized tests, I'm fired. And so are all the gym teachers.