Friday, July 11, 2014

One teacher's dislike of Common Core

I read today of teacher concerns over Common Core and was reminded of a teacher we hired a few years ago. Our independent school was rated 'A' in the state, and 'A' in math. "Jo" was a math specialist in a public school rated C/D for Math and wanted the opportunity to work in a high-performing department

Can a bad teacher be good?

I wrote elsewhere that bad teaching is more likely a leadership fault rather than a teacher's. I do believe in individual responsibility, and bad teaching may indeed be the result of a bad teacher. Equally, it may be the result of other factors, and a good leader will also consider these when making his/her evaluation.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Donations - cash or in kind?

Non-profit schools often receive donations of stuff. Sometimes they are things the donor no longer wants but sees value therein and does not want to throw away. Sometimes the donor sees a need and goes and buys something. Either way, the donor thinks s/he is doing good, but is it good for the school?

Not the Board's business #2

Board members too often cross the boundary from oversight and strategy into operational matters. The Board's concern must be limited only to whether an appropriate policy exists, and whether the policy is followed. What might happen when a Board member forgets this?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Are lesson observations worthwhile?

The prevailing orthodoxy is that the best way of assessing a teacher's performance, whether for appraisal or evaluation, is through observing him/her teaching. The idea is that the teacher provides a lesson plan according to state or district requirements for a pre-announced visit, often to a class and at a time chosen by that teacher. An impartial observer watches the lesson, and compares it both to the lesson plan and to some behavior-checklist which defines effective teaching. Post-lesson counseling then guides the teacher to some higher plane of practice. I disagree.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Board relationships

Another in my accidental series of Board misjudgments. A small independent school's elementary principal was having problems with a young, male and somewhat charismatic male teacher. "Joe" arrived late, did not plan, called vulnerable students names, failed to attend meetings. So the principal began to apply pressure.

Another Board misstep

Following my earlier post about Board members not knowing their roles comes this story. By virtue of their position, and to help them make informed decisions, Board members are privy to information which should remain confidential. Problems arise when it does not.

Master Teacher Update

Since I wrote my earlier comment on the Master Teacher idea, President Obama has come out with his own. His idea is to re-assign "good" teachers to high-needs schools; his thinking is that if a teacher succeeds here, s/he will succeed there. I have with two, related, reasons this is the wrong approach.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Is tenure a good thing?

I have written elsewhere on evaluation and on "bad" teachers (and also here). So what do I think of tenure? Like everything in discussions of education, I think the answer is complicated. However I do think that having tenure and arguing about tenure allows for a shift in the argument away from what matters.