So we’re getting a TPU. Which sounds a lot like KGB. Or SWAT. It’s easy to imagine them swooping down into your school and firing away. And we all know how great PD and other forms of “support” usually work out to be in this city (I can’t help but think back to my DOE-provided mentor, a typing teacher who didn’t understand the science I was teaching and interrupted me to ask me to explain it to her… she also did personal paperwork during her observation periods). Of course, thinking back to her also reminds me that, good heavens, there are at least a half-dozen teachers I’ve met over the years – and another half-dozen whom I’ve “met” by reading about them on other teachers’ blogs – who ought to be given the boot for wasting resources, making us all look bad, and harming kids during their years killing time in our schools. And given that boot quickly, because I imagine myself as the mother of a child in that person’s class, and I don’t like it one bit…

(To clarify, this is not to say that I think this TPU is the way to do it, I’m just saying that it’s in everyone’s best interests to help those who can be helped, and to find better placements or outright push out the others).  Norm commented that some teachers will thrive in one school while floundering in another, and that strikes me as true. Is it because some schools are simply more effective teaching environments for everyone, or is it because some schools are a better fit for specific teachers? The flip side of this is that some schools are going to be more demanding of their teachers, and what role does that play in how the teacher is perceived, and also in how easy a school it is to teach in? For example, my principal is incredibly demanding of teachers in terms of classroom management – which can be tough on newbies and transfers from other schools, but creates an environment that is orderly and much easier for everyone in the long run. Sucks to be the one who is struggling to maintain order in your classroom, but we do have a lot of people offering help and it’s not a witch hunt).

How would you, as a NYC school teacher, like to be assessed? By whom? Through what process? Over what period of time? And with what stakes, and what due process? How would your process affect those other teachers, a small but real minority, the ones you work with who aren’t doing their jobs? What system would work for us all (but especially the kids)?



Filed under education, New York, politics, teaching

4 responses to “TPU

  1. I think I’d like to be observed by a senior teacher in my area. I WANT someone who knows what they are doing to tell me what I do well, and what I could do better. I want someone who UNDERSTANDS the language that I teach, and knows about the methods used in my area. Hmmmm, too much to ask for?

  2. oy. I am all for getting rid of chronically ineffective teachers, but having lawyers involved just makes me think they will be running down a meaningless checklist and harping on the format of the do-now or something.

  3. TJ

    Are you referring to your school, or the system? It would be ridiculous to put one in your school, since it did so well on its report card. But I think the whole idea is flawed. I am all for getting rid of bad teachers, but I don’t think that this is the answer- it seems like it will be a witch hunt and the principal will be free to sic these people on teachers he/she doesn’t like.

    I also wonder how coaches and lead teachers would be affected by this- the coaches in my building are not very good and the lead teacher for my subject doesn’t seem all that knowledgeable either. At the moment I could really use some support, but I know the quality of the support I’d get from them is questionable.

  4. I understand the focus on the desire to get rid of “ineffective” teachers but I would love to get people to tell me how to define that. I know plenty of teachers who ended up at private schools and are are considered to be good teachers because the NYC system spit them out due to large class sizes and unruly kids. “Effectiveness” is a relative term. In my first year if I kept the kids from swinging from the lights I was considered effective.

    I was part of a group mentoring Teaching Fellows and stories abound of some of them floundering in one school but flourishing in another. The nationwide focus on quality teaching is curious when compared to lack of focus on quality of physicians in the US health industry, which I bet fares much worse when compared internationally than the US ed system does.

    My blog posted a recent article titled: “A Third of New York’s Worst Repeat Offender Doctors Continue to Practice Without Licensing Consequences” : Statement of Laura MacCleery, Director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division.

    Low quality doctors (and friends in the industry tell me there are a hell of a lot of them) are not facing witch hunts. Check out that guy who risked 600 people with Hepatitus C and was not sent to the medical rubber room.

    Look at your own schools and from what you can see, what is the % of lousy teachers? Try rating your colleagues in order of effectiveness. Would that list match the administrators’ list? The parents and students’ lists? (I was in Spain 2 years ago at a school where the principal was elected by teachers, parents and kids.) Most bad teachers find a way to migrate out of the classroom, all too often to the principal’s chair.

    Instead of City Council, run for principal.

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