Monday, November 26, 2007

candles, rain, and the sloth class...

First, the "vigil." Again, I think it should be called what it is. A protest. The Teacher Performance Unit is not something one should have a "vigil" for. It should be a damn protest, with lots of shouting, picketing, and an immense crowd of very displeased educators. This "unit" is simply the support division to ensure that principals that may have even the most arbitrary reasons for disliking an educator to build the case to dismiss him or her. Probationary or tenured, all NYC teachers should be very, very concerned about this development. I felt so silly asking my teachers to come to a "vigil." (The real "vigils" should be held in front of the rubber rooms where our colleagues are sitting for inordinately long periods of time, often without knowing the charges brought against them.)

I am the first one to agree that teachers lacking in instructional efficacy need support. They certainly do not need the "unit" overseeing this. That, dear readers, is a set-up for dismissal. So why are we carrying candles and humming union tunes. Silly. Where were the signs? Where were the proclamations that Klein and Bloomberg have failed in their moral and fiduciary duties to the students and parents of New York City? The NAEP certainly provides the definitive evidence that our school system is in persistent failure, more so now that Klein continues to lead it. Reorganization after reorganization only acts to further destabilized schools, as school leaders, educators, parents, and students struggle to once again figure out which "person with a new title" is in charge of what. It's frustrating and detracts from the ultimate goal of student achievement.

Second, my schedule is tight and I need at least a moderate amount of time to schedule "school related" events. I schedule myself for a fair amount of professional development, given that the BOE really no longer provides it. I think that this is a normal part of the due diligence one must pay to continue to develop as a teacher. True, before the dismal 37.5 minutes, in-house PD was a total joke. But there are some fantastic PD opportunities out there, whether provided by the UFT or one of the hundreds of cultural institutions that offer development to NYC educators. This is now my third cancellation of a PD event that I wanted to attend, due to the increasing amount of "last minute, must be there" after-school meetings which are egregiously announced the day before they occur. I almost coughed up my lunch when I was told that my presence was expected at a particularly important meeting. Tomorrow. This should come as no surprise to the many parents, teachers, and administrators that flocked to SLT training, only to be read aloud a list of notes.

I have to say that my school is well run and the students are generally particularly well behaved. But one of my classes, whom I've chosen to call the "Defiant Sloths," has pushed my buttons a bit too frequently as of late. So, a letter to the parents of the class is going out tomorrow. With a friendly invitation to come and sit with their child at a time of their choosing. I still find it amazing that I can scare the pants off of three of the other classes I work with (all I have to say is "hush" and these classes go silent), yet the Defiant Sloths are throwing me for a loop.

Ahh. I feel better getting this off my chest.

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