Today was one of those days where I felt like I was truly earning that salary the public likes to decry. The school is having a new portable installed right beside mine, and someone, in a land far, far away from a real school – probably the board office – decided that jackhammering the tarmac outside of our portable at 8:30 a.m. was a grand idea.
Aside from the noise, which I nearly had to shout over, there was an incredible amount of dust. Each time a student opened the door (which was every five seconds once they discovered that there was a dust storm happening outside), the portable filled with airborne concrete particles and my drama kings and queens had sudden onset asthma and were unable to live life. Normally I would have just abandoned all hope and put the students to some independent reading [social time], but we’ve had endless interruptions including photo retakes, and one particular post-recess-whole-class-malfunction that resulted in a lengthy community circle I’m fairly certain just made matters worse. We really needed to do some math. Plus, everyone knows that the first block of the day is the only time where any actual learning happens. Thus it was clearly the perfect time for jackhammering.
Aside from all that, I have been frustrated about a rookie colleague who is being eaten alive by the parents in their class and from what I can tell is receiving zero help. In fact, I’d say this person is being set up to fail. It made me wonder why we don’t support our new staff the way we’re expected to support our students. Where is this culture of growth and learning from our mistakes supposed to come from if not the top down? Then it got me to thinking how lovely it would be if our teacher performance appraisals were written the way we have to write report cards, and I started imagining what mine would sound like. For the sake of keeping my job, I will assume the pseudonym Pink Floyd, aka Mme Floyd. (If you haven’t yet tuned in to the fact that “dark sarcasm in the classroom” is a Pink Floyd lyric, here we are.)
I think it would go something like this:
“Pink is developing her classroom management skills. She does a very good job of not using vulgarity when her students become challenging, although she does sometimes resort to sarcasm. She has somewhat effective strategies for managing her class, such as bribery and circular lectures. As a next step, Pink is encouraged to develop more intrinsic motivation among her students. She will be supported in this by having admin come into her class to show her exactly how the hell that’s supposed to be done.
In terms of her assessment and evaluation, Pink is very good at creating tests that will require the least amount of time possible to mark. She is encouraged to actually try the test she is planning to give, before she gives it, to find the questions that don’t make any sense. She should also be sure to look for typos as this will help to keep her blood pressure down, since she will no longer have to hear what typo she made exactly twenty-six times. Her admin will be happy to support her by creating her tests for her when she is feeling overwhelmed.
When lesson planning, Pink is able to create a pretty kick-ass lesson with five minutes left to go before the bell. Sometimes she even makes up her lessons as she is teaching them. Way to go, Pink! To further develop her lesson planning skills, Pink is encouraged to spend her evenings and weekends planning. This will ensure that all of her lessons include differentiated instruction, scaffolding, learning goals and success criteria, hands-on activities, formative assessment, self-evaluation, collaboration, inquiry, social justice, technology, mindfulness and, of course, fun.
Finally, Pink works well with her colleagues. She shares her resources whether her colleagues want them or not, and in turn, she makes sure to steal all of theirs. However, Pink is encouraged to stop stealing them from the photocopier, as this leaves her colleagues both confused and frustrated after making the arduous journey to the copy room. While Pink sort of contributes to the school community by running a mindfulness club that sometimes happens and sometimes doesn’t, as a next step she can begin to spend more of her recesses running clubs, rather than hiding in her portable with the doors locked and curtains drawn. Her admin will be happy to support her in this by doing her yard duty for her whenever she needs a break. Overall, Pink is a pretty average teacher. Keep up the good work! But if you don’t feel like keeping up the good work, take a break in the calming tent in the staff room, and continue keeping up the good work when you feel ready.”
What would yours sound like?