Thursday, June 7, 2007


Yesterday I had the pleasure of sitting in on a demo lesson given by a 7th grade science teacher. This lesson was amazingly good. The teacher engaged the kids, varied the activities and made some really good science points. I was impressed and would have hired her in a second.

After the lesson everyone went back to the office to talk. A couple of teachers had sat in on the lesson and some other people. There were a lot of questions or points of the; why did you do this, or do you think it would have been better if you did this, variety. It was the typical discussion that happens when supervisors or people who feel they have input, have with other teachers. There was nothing particularly bad about the conversation and ultimately the teacher was offered the job.

The reason I am writing about this is that I wonder if this same group would have sat with VanGough and told him that maybe he should add a little more blue to his sky. I suspect that they would have. The reason that they would have is that they feel they have to say something and they have to find something wrong. There is a famous story about a commercial illustrator who was hired to paint a picture of 50 couples dancing on a ship's deck. When he turned the painting in and everyone was looking at it someone noticed that one of the women had a hairy arm. The client pointed this out and the illustrator apologized and took the picture back to correct his error. When asked by someone how he could have made that mistake he said that he had done it on purpose. He explained that if he had not done it then the client would have asked him to do some other change, such as rotating all the people 30 degrees.

Of course supervisors do what they think they should do, which is supervise. No one thinks that if they start messing with great teachers that they may make them worse. No supervisor ever thinks that the teacher they are observing is better than they are. We have all been trained to criticize and not praise. This needs to change.


graycie said...

There was a school where we would each leave an obvious,gaping 'hole' in our personal goal for the year so that one particular administrator would tell us how to fill that rather than add some other, obnoxious, useless task to our portfolio. He never caught on.

You've gotta play the game.

Jose said...

Good post. And they wonder why teacher morale is at an all-time low ...

Anonymous said...

Wow, I can't believe a school administrator, let alone an NYC DOE school administrator, would admit that a teacher might know more about teaching his or her subject. Why aren't there more like you? Oh, that's right, they put you in the rubber room for the better part of a year.

Anonymous said...

With the changes in the DoE, administrators and supervisors are busier supervising data than teachers. More and more I hear these people admitthey are more often than not managers, and willing to admit there are many teachers much more competent in the classroom. As long as teachers and supervisors continue to watlz to the age old song of us and them (apologies to Pink Floyd)as this blog delights in, the "educrats" and politicians will rule, because a divided house is a beaten house.

smarterandbetterthanthem said...

Very good comment about the criticism. The whole system is built upon destroying any teacher who isn’t part of their group. The corporate controlled media portrays teachers as no good, and regular people are too busy paying the bills to get to the heart of what is really happening in the world, let alone in the schools.
I had the misfortune of teaching at Grace Zwillenberg’s gulag John Adams. Grace’s husband Arthur did the same thing in his school and the teachers were able to get rid of him, and Grace got him another job. Grace went to Joel Klein’s Leadership Academy where they use Jack Welsh from GE’s philosophy of getting rid of 10% of the workforce every year in order to terrorize the rest into submission. If we had a real union, the sheer numbers alone would be a reason to stop this, but it keeps going on.
Grace’s mini me AP Jonathan Barnett observed me teach a perfect lesson. I naively expected him to say something nice afterwards. Instead he just gave a ratty little smile. In the post-observation conference he told me I didn’t assign homework. I was flabbergasted because he was sitting in the classroom when I did, plus the HW was on the board. I couldn’t believe he would just lie to my face with no shame. I invited him in to the classroom to see their homework but he wouldn’t come. In retrospect I should have said nothing about the homework since I had the student’s homework as evidence and just let him write up lack of homework, but he took the supposed lack of homework out of the written observation report. The first time around you make the mistake of thinking you are dealing with a human being.
The bottom line is that these administrators truly are rats who are willing to do anything to maintain power. They control a lot of money, they want to keep that all in the family and they couldn’t care less about the students. In fact it is beyond not caring about the students. They want to have poorly educated students coming out of NYC schools because they are interested in maintaining the status quo. The sad part is that this is part of the plan. They are just cogs who are doing the bidding of their rat overlords, who they are much more afraid of than any student, parent, teacher or union. They know the whole system is fixed and they only way they will get in trouble is if they don’t do their master’s bidding. There is a whole rat network which they have cultivated among the students, which is also tied in with the drugs. They allow certain students to not go to class and not do work because they will change their grades in exchange for doing the administrator’s bidding. It’s a dirty and nasty system built on greed and ignorance.

Anonymous said...

Dear smarterandbetter
Yes there are many problems at John Adams unfortunately YOU were one of them! I had to clean up the mess you left! The kids you supposedly taught these perfect lessons to were WAY behind in the curriculum. You had only coverd up to 1815 when you were suppose to cover up to the 1890's. Many of these students were in special programs and were Very upset about the lack of preparation you supplied them for the State based Regents Exam they need to graduate. You barely taught and spent much of your time in the class talking to them about your personal life and how you were being mistreated by the staff at John Adams.
Several people other Social Studies Teachers tried to help you, but you did not accept the help, just simply demanded the give you all their lessons immediately. If they did not have the lessons you needed at that moment you complained that no one was helping you. Sorry you're not smarter or better, just bitter and incompetent.
A Former Colleague @ John Adams

Anonymous said...

to former colleague John Adams and smarterandbetterthanthem:
WHOA!!! Smarterandbetterthanthem pointed out that he/she was treated badly because h/she wasn't "part of the group". Former colleague dumps on him/her in blog comment so viciously,would you dump on someone that was part of your group? Colleague states curriculum not bad-mouthing teacher. I taught with a special-ed partner who couldn't fathom the pace of the curriculum, I wound up slowing down which frustrated me immensely. BUT as the general ed teacher I became accountable for this. Kids mad-mouth a teacher when they have a sympathetic agenda-ridden adult(s) who know how to tweak the info into what they want...Smarterandbetterthanthem said the evaluator lied re component of evaluation. This can lead a teacher to feel unjustly victimized. Smarterandbetterthanthem wanted immediate lessons from others? Was that a directive from administration? I guess my point is unless you have all the facts, and even then, it's hard to judge. There is so much mud-slinging between professionals in schools, it really bothers me. Not even Union contracts cover 'mistreatment' or perceived mistreatment by members to each other. Smarterandbetterthanthem may be saving face/restoring self-dignity and colleague is on-line going for the kill. Heaven forbid to hear the staff gossip that is actually going on. Very sad.