GUEST POST: A DEPRESSING LETTER FROM A DISILLUSIONED TEACHER

An Email I Had to Post

Recently, I received an interesting email from a Pasco teacher who asked to remain anonymous. I can totally understand that request. The email was a mixture of bullets and prose, and was obviously the spontaneous result of his contemplation of where our leadership has taken us during the last fifteen years.

I replied to the writer and, besides agreeing with every point, asked him if he’d rework it into something I could post. He responded the very next day:

Last week I sat at a table with four excellent teachers. During our meeting, I realized that between the five of us we have over 100 years of teaching experience. We utilize excellent techniques and have enjoyed outstanding success with our students year after year.

At our weekly meetings, it is hard to avoid discussing the coming mass exodus for other opportunities in other districts due to several issues, which this board is evidently deaf and blind to. It is all so depressing.

Our superintendent has no teaching experience, but is a politician. He is an emperor with no clothes; for credibility he has surrounded himself with assistants who have very little if any experience in the classroom, or failed experiences. They spend their days telling him what they think he wants to hear.

In the case of one, he appointed a long time family crony neighbor to run the show when she could not teach her way out of a paper bag, and abandoned the classroom to obtain higher degrees and more certifications. Her appointment and performance are a great source of disappointment for me and many others in the district.

In his defense, he has appointed some excellent area directors who are respected. However, in this teacher “improvement ” process that we are force-fed every week, what is insulting and being overlooked for some odd reason is that most teachers have teaching degrees and many have masters degrees from respected universities. Yet we are treated like children and forced to sit through degrading meetings in order to “improve.” During these silly meetings, our lesson plans go unwritten and our students’ work goes ungraded. The politicians including Mr. Browning seem to think that we have all the time in the world. We have grown tired of this.

This “cookie cutter” approach to teaching , Marzano, is being touted as a “necessary evil” for judging teacher performance. There couldn’t be a worse system at all. They don’t even try to say it is good anymore. They just tell us that we are stuck with it. It is horrible.

COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE METHODS ARE BEING UTILIZED ON PROFESSIONALS!

The entire approach is insulting and counterproductive because the system keeps changing year after year! As teachers, we are taught that the children are first introduced to a concept, given adequate time to practice it to mastery and then evaluated on how they apply new learning. It is not rocket science, but you must be good at it. The Marzano method says that any fool can do it if they just follow his ridiculous “protocol.” That is insulting to the art of teaching, and to the millions of us teachers who say that the Marzano methods are rubbish!

Principals are being forced into a “cookie cutter” methodology to evaluate teachers in a certain manner, with no collaboration and no discretion. It is insane.

The “reformers” keep citing “research based” methods to justify whatever they want instead of collaborating with and listening to outstanding teachers and identifying and praising their traits and having them model what they have done. They have almost destroyed our profession.

Originally, school teachers elected the best among them to be the Headmaster. Along these lines today, in the very best private schools, all administrators teach a class every day. Presently, if all of our administrators taught one class, demonstrating to everyone their outstanding skills, they could, by example lead. This would also provide a great cost savings and demonstrate to the world that Pasco County DOES provide a world class education as it touts.

It is incredibly sad that it is the best teachers who are affronted by this insulting evaluation process, and who are now looking elsewhere. Perhaps the board needs to revisit the Danish story, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and evaluate who is giving advice to whom.

Lastly, never has a surveymonkey been sent out soliciting evaluative feedback on the status of teaching here (in Pasco) except in very couched and engineered terms designed to provide a particular point of view or result. True coaching by principals happens daily and on the job where free discussions occur and encouragement given at opportune times when good works are happening.

This board needs to send out a surveymonkey to ask what all the stakeholders think.

Thank you Mr. Anonymous. Your account is depressingly accurate.

Sadly enough, I can’t help but think that that writer is pretty much speaking for all teachers who remember what teaching was before the “reformers” came along. With each succeeding year, another wave of them retires and is replaced by youngsters who only know teaching as the degrading dance on the electric rug that it has now become. Really.

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