Monday, September 08, 2008

Corpus delicti

When your students don't do well on state exams, people in suits get to tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and more importantly, how to write your lesson plans.
The template shown is based on what the Connecticut Accountability for Learning Initiative would find acceptable for lesson plans.
Our district requires that we write our lesson plans out and, until today, were planning on making us use this template for every lesson, for every class.
The purpose behind these lesson plans is both sinister and righteous. The sinister purpose is that the district needs to prove that teachers aren't teaching using all of the reasearch proven methods like Think-Alouds, K-W-L's, or other useful initiation activities. Now, they can't come out and say this, but it has to be at least part of the truth.
The other truth is, we need to teach better at our school. Too many of our students are not finding success, and that needs to change. But does filling out a template like this, completely and fully, mean better teaching? Also, will the end result of filling out this template justify the cost in teacher time?
For instance, some of my colleagues who teach three or more preps, spent 4-6 hours writing in this template four times for each prep.
This isn't meant simply to pout about all of the added work, though a little pouting is in order. This post is simply to wonder if the means justify the end. Will our students succeed more if we fill out this form? I can't imagine that a teacher who lacks classroom management, student connections, or any sense of desire to be the best, will suddenly improve student learing by filling this out. He still has to perform. And one doesn't have to fill out this form in order to perform.


At 8:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Filling out this form, or any other form they put in front of us, simply wastes our time. Teachers who know what they're doing don't need to fill out this form, and, as you pointed out, filling out this form does not create better teaching. It takes up time teachers could be using to analyze their teaching, their students' work, and how to modify their teaching to better meet their students' needs.

We need better teacher training. We need better teachers, which means we need to attract better candidates by making teaching a respected and desirable profession (yes, those "#1 Teacher!" mugs go a long way... but they don't go far enough).

We also need to re-evaluate our evaluation tools. We're failing our students because we have too many underqualified and/or burned-out teachers in the classrooms, but also because we're testing them to death with multiple choice Scantrons that don't assess anything.


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