Saturday, July 23, 2011

Which teachers are substandard? Who knows?

Teacher Implores Union to Renegotiate
June 14, 2011

HunterJim posted

Sarah missed the part where the function of the teachers union was explained -- that would be to protect the jobs of the bad teachers.

Teachers at each school know who should not be teaching, but the union doesn't want to hear that. They want more teachers who will them pay more dues. As a taxpayer I would rather see fewer good teachers who can then teach the larger classes, and less expensive schools. We could even give the good teachers the raises that they deserve.

jim dodd

mlaiuppa posted

That's right. We do know. At Monroe Clark we all talked about the math teacher who did her real estate and travel agency work during class time, while her aide did all of the teaching and grading. And how this teacher walked out of her classroom three times. (This was years and years ago.)

Her behavior was the talk of the campus. We all wanted her fired because she reflected badly on our profession. I finally went to the Principal to ask that she be documented so she could be terminated because that is the process for termination.

He refused. He said if he did that and gave her a poor evaluation then if she wanted to post and bid out of the school no other school would take her and we'd be stuck with her. He was hoping she'd leave voluntarily instead of being forced. She should have been fired. Instead we were stuck with her for three years and then she went to some other school where I'm sure she was just as bad.

Principal refused to do his job. Thankfully he soon retired. He went into the EduCorp. business.

Unions make the district follow the contract. If the administration refuses to do their job, not much can be done. It isn't the union's job to fire teachers. It is the union's job to make sure the district follows the contract. There are provisions and processes for terminating a permanent employee. If the administration is too lazy to follow them, that is not the fault of the union.

Maura Larkins posted
I am not convinced that Hunter Jim and mlaiuppa really do know which teachers should be fired. Mlaiuppa gives a single example of a teacher who behaved outrageously, but there may have been others at the school who did an equally bad job while playing politics well enough to avoid criticism. I knew a special education teacher who never seemed to speak to her students at all except to make sure that they did not speak or move. Most of the time she sat at her desk, and her aide went around answering the students' whispered questions. She was chosen teacher of the year by a small committee of her pals on the staff. We need unbiased observers doing observations and evaluations.

Maura Larkins post script:
The more I think about Mailuppa's post, the more I am wondering if this supposedly horrible teacher actually did anything wrong. Mailuppa gives the impression that this teacher simply walked away from the school three times. Shame on Mailuppa if the teacher just ran to the bathroom. And anytime a teacher sits and corrects papers during class time, he or she is taking away from instruction time. Plenty of teachers use their prep time to sit in the lounge and gossip. Perhaps studying for a real estate test was a one-time aberration for this teacher, done in an emergency. I suspect Mailuppa may have been one of those gossiping in the teachers lounge about this particular teacher! There is a lot of logical inconsistency among human beings, and this might be an example of just such faulty reasoning.

What we need is a consistent, apolitical system for evaluating teachers.


Tim said...

If this teacher was truly doing non-school work at her desk (real-estate type work), then she should be fired.

Maura Larkins said...

Hi Tim!
Good to hear from you.

I myself made a habit of constantly interacting with students during class time. I found that the school day was to short to allow me to sit and correct papers instead of working with kids. But I don't think that a teacher should be fired arbitrarily for failing--especially if it was just one time--to do what I did. I would be more upset by a teacher who regularly left her students to their own devices than by a teacher who studied one time for a test.

I've seen teachers gossip together while making their students stand in line long after the bell has rung to go back to class after recess. Clearly, this behavior is just as bad--or worse--than studying real estate while kids are working by themselves. (At least the kids are accomplishing something in the latter case.)

Tim, would you also want to fire a teacher who took personal phone calls during class time? What if that teacher were really good at helping kids learn? I would rather fire a teacher who fails to educate kids.

Before firing a teacher, I would want to look at the whole picture of how that teacher did his or her job. For some reason, I can't find much support for the idea of having regular, thorough, effective evaluations of teachers.

Maura Larkins said...

Of course, I meant SHORT personal phone calls, not long chats, like the teachers who made their kids stand in line after recess.