Saturday, October 3, 2009

Getting a Fake TAN

It's sad, really. I often see newbie teachers doing things that suck away their time but have no educational benefit whatsoever. They do these things because they are told to by admins, who are told to tell them to by quality review or whatever other Powers That Be. Sadder still, the newbies often actually believe that these things have value because it is drilled into their heads. A case in point: the TAN.

It doesn't matter what you teach these days. Pretty much everyone is required to keep a Teacher Assessment Notebook on their students. The purpose, allegedly, is to keep data on students so that you may individualize instruction. The real purpose, of course, is to keep teachers so busy that we can't do things like relax or talk to our colleagues about how stupid TANs are.

In truth, TANs are useless. Any teacher worth her salt knows the strengths and weaknesses of her students within the first couple of weeks. Collecting data every time a student passes wind only serves to make your TAN larger, which may benefit you in terms of muscle tone and stronger bones from lugging the damn thing around, but has zero effect on your teaching. In fact, every minute you spend on your TAN has a negative effect on your teaching, because that's a minute you could have spent writing effective lesson plans or working directly with kids.

So, newbie teachers, I advise you to do what most savvy veteran teachers do: fake your TAN. The trick is to stuff your TAN with so much information that no admin in their right mind would want to look at it or question what you are doing. I learned this technique, oddly enough, from my accountant one year. I had a simple tax year, yet she produced about 40 pages of forms to submit to the IRS. When I asked her why, she simply stated, "Would any IRS agent in their right mind audit this?" She is a genius.

Following her model, here is how you can fake your TAN:
  1. Get a huge ass binder. I mean huge.
  2. Print out every single thing on ARIS for every single student. Print it on 3 hole punch paper and put in your TAN. This alone adds a pound to your data, and poundage counts.
  3. Whenever you talk to a student, even if it's about the need for a bathroom pass, announce in a loud, clear voice, "WE ARE CONFERENCING NOW". When admins ask your kids whether you conference with them, they'll know what to say.
  4. Keep a lot of rosters handy. Whenever you are about to teach anything, write it on a roster and check off most of the names to indicate which students need to learn this. Date it two days before you teach that lesson. Three hole punch it and put it in your TAN. If an admin asks how your data drives your instruction, show them the rosters. They will love you and offer to have your children.
  5. Labels are your friend. If you teach math, for example, print a page of labels that say "Understands multiplication of fractions" and a page that says "Does not understand multiplication of fractions." Affix a label to each student's page in your TAN. If you do this once every two weeks, you'll have 20 labels for each child by year's end. Your TAN will be shown to others as an example to be followed. Try not to snicker.
That's all the advice I have for now. If anyone knows any other neat TAN tricks, please post in the comments section. If we work together in the spirit of fake collaboration, we can accomplish almost anything.


Anonymous said...

I am assuming that the TAN is used in middle school. At the HS level they want teachers to have a "curriculum binder". In this binder teachers are supposed to submit all their lessons and the resources used in each lesson. The reason why we don't submit lessons is because the union won an arbitration in 1989, special circular #28, no collection of lessons. So I go online look print out the HS math curriculum and the PH pacing chart and VIOLA - "curriculum binder"!!! If I were in your school where there's so much TANning going on, I would probably fill my binder with the mother of all info, until the binder is 10" thick, and make the admin sit with me and go through each page so I can get his/her feedback. I would tell the admin., "I need your feedback in order to grow as a professional." Trust me the admin will never bother you again. My greatest concern is why you or the other teachers haven't reported this to their union district rep. I never miss a delegate assembly(DA) meeting and I never hear about the TAN. Why isn't your chapter leader bringing this up at the DA? As per Article 8I, it is excessive paperwork and maybe you and your colleagues should look into filing an Article 24. I hope this info has helped. Remember every faked TAN will eventually be noticed. Good luck this school year. Love reading your blog.

Pissedoffteacher said...

Thank goodness we don't do this stuff.

Miss Eyre said...

I started keeping a paperless TAN this year: one giant Excel spreadsheet with everything I can think of, like reading levels and conference notes and a separate folder for PDFs that I can pull off Acuity later. It has decluttered my desk quite a lot. Then I just have two small binders to keep running records in (the only thing I still do on paper as far as "assessment" goes). Not a bad little system.

12 more years said...

Pure genius- I think I will set mine up in anticipation of our quality review (whenever the hell that will be).

Mrs. Marm said...

I LOVE reading this blog. Love it! Your writing is so snappy you deserve a job on SNL or Letterman or something like that.

In my little district out here in California we haven't gotten to the point to which you refer, but I figure it's only a matter of time.


Ms. NoExcuses said...

I just want you to know that I forwarded this to EVERY teacher in my building because were are on the verge of filling major grievances for excess paperwork, and it made their nights! Myself and another teacher of over 20 years were comparing fake TAN's today!

The really sad part is, if even faking it takes away from me planning exciting and engaging lessons, then it is a waste of time.

Oh...and it does. So it is.

Thanks though for the reassurance that we are not alone and allowing us to laugh about it.

However, can we rally some troops and put an end to this crap?

Anonymous said...

To Ms. NoExcuses: If you have a majority of the teachers(more than 85%) against this excessive paperwork, then the chapter leader can invoke Article 24, Professional Conciliation. You can also inform all your teachers to write a letter to the principal informing him/her that you read his/her memo instructing teachers to input data, annual instructual goals for each student, reading DoE email info, TAN (here's where teachers list the items they are required to do). In this letter tell the principal that you will do your best to comply with his/her instructions. Then say in order to complete these tasks, you want to know what time during the school day you should use to complete these tasks and will you have access to a computer connected to the schools's database during that time. Have the teacher sign the letter and hand it to the principal. The principal has to response in writing when should you do it. If the principal states during a prep, or lunch period or during your Professional activity period, then it's a violation of the contract. But, all the teachers must be willing to do this. I wanted to share this with you because the majority of the teachers are fed up with this bul*&^it! Good Luck!