We won’t give up on students!

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This line comes from a recent professional development opportunity. It’s a nice sound bite.

Will we give up on teachers? I wonder. I wish we would treat our teachers with the compassion and respect we demand for our students. Evaluations under the new Danielson framework seemed designed to weed out teachers who don’t fit the mold. Our students are allowed to learn in many different ways while teachers are required to present common lesson plans using common techniques with common timing requirements and often common assessments — regardless of the differences between their classes. Then those teachers with lower assessments get to fight to keep their jobs, trying to explain that the 10 special education students in period 2 affected results. There’s a chance the Principal will accuse that teacher of making excuses or will smile and utter some unintended threat such as, “yes, but you have to get those students up to grade level.”

An attractive, energetic young colleague told me she was tired of teaching a few days ago, right after her evaluation. I’ve observed her teaching and she’s good. I watched her carry her coffee back to her classroom, sobered by the negative comments. She’s an African-American teacher in the STEM (Science/math) area who can no doubt find alternative employment, possibly at a much higher wage. She’s a great role model.

I don’t know whether to hope she stays in teaching or not. There’s an easier life with higher wages and a great deal more respect waiting for her out there if she decides to opt out.