October 26, 2021

Jocelyn Turner: Rampant staff shortages? Duhhh.

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Jocelyn Turner, blogging at Noted from the Educational Trenches, points out the problems with teacher staffing are neither surprising nor unpredictable. “We would never do to students what we do to teachers,” she writes. 

I felt sorry for that principal. One assistant principal down. Five teachers down. How do you even begin to hire all those replacements in October? I felt sorry for the principal who had three teachers quit together midday last week, a fact proudly proclaimed in one of my social media feeds. I feel sorry for the teachers who do not have enough paraprofessional help and for the paraprofessionals are are NOT happy to serve as substitute teachers — sometimes in violation of the law — because there has to be an adult body in the front of that classroom; the number of qualified bodies in too many places now sometimes totals less than the number of classrooms. I feel profoundly sorry for the kids who are being impacted by this educational game of musical chairs, the game where some classrooms end up being “out” — out of luck, out of teachers and out of learning time for that day or longer.

Can I make a suggestion? Let’s go Back to a Better Future. In that future, evaluations will not be long streams of demonstrated inadequacies (Yes, Charlotte Danielson and others meant well, but what they produced with their lengthy rubrics on pedagogical effectiveness has been senselessly demoralizing. I remember going upstairs to comfort the woman on the floor above me, who after the students left was simply wailing in despair after reading her evaluation — and she was one of the best teachers in my school in my personal view. Other teachers and I kept reassuring her that, yes, she did her job well even as she talked about the fact that maybe teaching had been a mistake and maybe the evaluation was proof that she ought to move on.

She was a great teacher. The whole scene was surreal. But it happened and I was there to watch the equivalent of handing a straight “A” student a straight “C” report card.

Eduhonesty: We would never do to students what we do to teachers. We point out all the areas where teachers should work to improve, but once the rubric got long enough those evaluations proved toxic. In the year before I retired, Danielson’s rubric contained “4 domains, 22 components, and 76 elements. In one class period, no one can observe all of that and a regrettable number of evaluators will likely infer or even make up numbers to fill out the requirements.” (Danielson’s axe with details | Notes from the Educational Trenches (eduhonesty.com))

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