Yo Teach…! Or how to avoid teaching like Jason

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 26 2012

This is what bureaucracy looks like? (responses requested)

I happened to be CC’d on a thread where my team (10+ year veteran at the school) lead sent some things to the social studies coach at my school. In her response, the social studies coach advised the team lead “please be advised before administering a formative assessment I need a paper copy 3 weeks in advance as I have to approve it as well as {academic head of school}.”

Please note…FORMATIVE assessment. These are not unit tests. These (presumably) include everything from exit slips to weekly quizzes. By the way, my school is a charter school…just trying to expand our understandings of private v public, charter v local, etc etc (yes, with badly designed incentives, private institutions can also epitomize bureaucratic stasis). ┬áBut really, is this unusual? I’d love to hear from anyone. To what extent does your school have very strict control over what you feel allowed to do in your classroom? To what extent does it support or hinder your teaching? What is causing these impediments? Principals, drive for higher test scores, paranoid administrators, etc? I guess my bigger question is…is this systemic or just what happens when someone with no management skills leads an organization? And if you want to share what kind of school your at, that would be informative.

6 Responses

  1. I’m putting in a vote for that being unusual. I’ve taught at both public and charter schools, and no one has ever even suggested I might need something approved before I used it in a classroom. I’ve always known where to get feedback if I wanted it, but I’ve never been supervised like that.

  2. C

    Um, that’s not only absurd, it’s detrimental to the entire teaching process. Part of being an excellent teacher is the ability to adapt and re-calibrate to meet the needs of your students. NOBODY can anticipate those needs weeks in advance. That’s a truly crappy policy.

  3. meghank

    I think the Social Studies Coach is confusing “formative” with “summative.” You might ask her more about her definition of “formative” and she might give you the definition for “summative”. Then the problem is solved.

    • yoteach

      But that is also a bit scary, no? I think in this case she did, in fact, mean formative (they just give us summative assessments), but I had that same thought at first too.

  4. katb

    Yup, my (public) school totally decided that was a great idea last year.

    Then my administrator decided that he also needed class sets of all graded assessments.

    Let’s just say, that after 3 weeks of being flooded with exit tickets/quizzes/unit tests, the policy disappeared.

    And that on the last day of school, a confused messenger brought a stack of un-commented-upon Unit Test 1′s to my classroom – which I promptly filed in the trash can.

  5. H

    My school required daily lesson plans for every week in advance with what the assessment would be, but I don’t know of any teachers who got pushback for their questions or in trouble for changing the plan later.

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