So, I'm still wondering if our governor is actually listening to us or just doing a really good job pretending....I believe it's the second option. He's really not doing a great job of that though...kind of reminiscent of his prior term as governor. On Friday he dropped his plan of how he is going to help the state of Iowa become better in education. There's a lot to this plan...so, I won't cover it all, but just a few things that popped out to me.
First, the teacher training program. I actually find this to be the best part of what he's talking about. It's a way to really train those that want to be teachers to the best of our ability. My one question is how to fund a year of student teaching. If we could set it up like an internship - students could possibly afford the full year it would take to do the student teaching. Otherwise having the state possibly fund half of it could also be a possibility. Now for the weird part. After talking about how there needs to be a rigorous teacher training program, he mentions an alternative certification program. This seems to be the exact opposite of what he's proposing. Why make it easier to obtain the certification if we're wanting strong teacher candidates....?
The second part that I thought was interesting was the Educator Evaluation. I think it would be interesting to see how the "scaled" evaluation could be used instead of the "meets/doesn't meet" evaluation that the administrators administer now. But it's going to come down to the administrator. As it stands right now, I'm still not sure if all administrators are correctly using the evaluation process. When I was being trained on this for my Administrator Masters, I thought it was pretty clear. But we have those administrators that either "go after" the staff or don't seem to have clue one on how to correctly use the process to help their teachers.
The last piece was the "Value added Measures"...isn't that just a fancy way of saying Assessment Based Teacher Pay? I still wish people would understand exactly what this is. It's like saying to a dentist, "your pay next year will depend on the cavities of your patients". I wonder if dentists would go for that.... Sometimes I wish people would realize that I don't sit in my room just drinking coffee and hoping that the kids will just get their education out of thin air. Also, and maybe this is just me, but I don't really think that Terry's daughter, who teaches as well, said, "you know what dad, that's a great idea! Make my salary based on how well my students do on a test!" If she did, we need to forcibly transfer her to Des Moines Public Schools and she if she still believes the same way after a few years here.
This year I am again getting frustrated when giving a pretest to see what skills the students have before we start a unit - I have a student write on his test..."this is just a pretest....I don't care". It tells me that we're testing these kids a lot. They're frustrated and not really wanting another test to tell them that they can't do something.
During this unit my literacy team is trying something different....I talked about it in the post before this one. I can say our first week was kind of rough...but I think it's going to work out. The students like being able to move around, seeing how other teachers teach and having time to get up a couple of times in a 90 minute block of sitting. I think when we're done and have the projects done - it'll be very cool. I'm still very optimistic about how this unit will turn out and our interactions with the kids and each other. I'm trying to also be optimistic about the educational system in general - but the more we try to fix it...the more tired I get.
Anyway, I need to go back to my cushy job...the one where I've been grading papers for the last hour, only to take a break to blog. I still have about 2 more hours left....