by Mark Anderson
In my last post here, I expressed my loss of confidence in the leadership of both Mayor Bloomberg and UFT President Mulgrew. The failure of both sides to broker an agreement on teacher evaluations has only exacerbated my disapproval. But it is not simply that they have failed to reach an agreement that irks me; it is that both sides seem most concerned with exigencies of administration, rather than factors that will influence change in the place that needs it the most — the classroom.
As a VIVA teacher, I worked with other teachers across NY State to craft a set of recommendations on teacher evaluation in 2010. We spent some time considering what components of teacher evaluation will have the most impact on teacher growth, and thus, student learning. And we came the conclusion that the main factor was that no matter the ultimate measures and weighting, effective and meaningful feedback will only occur in the context of a professional learning community. Teachers — not simply the principal — must be empowered, as peer reviewers and facilitators of professional conversations oriented around growth and learning.
Yet all we hear from the NYC DOE has to do with principal autonomy.
We also recommended that student surveys be included as a measure of teacher effectiveness. After reviewing Ron Ferguson’s research and work with The Tripod Project and The MET Project, we were convinced that well-developed student surveys provided meaningful feedback
that would help a teacher to reflect and consider how to revise their instruction. The final findings from The MET Project have further strengthened the cause for inclusion of student surveys.
Yet the UFT will not consider inclusion of student surveys in teacher evaluations.
Both sides seem to be have gotten lost in the details and specifics of clauses, arbitration, and sunset dates without a clear vision of teacher professionalism in their minds.
Mark Anderson is a 7th and 8th grade Special Education teacher in the Bronx.