Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Helter Swelter

Today, if you didn't notice, was hot. At least my school was. There was no air conditioning. We were told to keep all the lights off because it makes the rooms cooler, if you define cooler as a few degrees below hell. Students staggered in from the 5 story walk from the gym to my room and collapsed into their seats. It could be my imagination, but I believe one student burst into flames. Even usually motivated students slumped listlessly in their chairs, focusing their attention not on the Do Now but on the race between a couple of beads of sweat that were running down my forehead.

Any sane administration would be glad that everyone showed up. This, however, is the DOE, so you can probably guess what happened today.

We had a walk-through.

For anyone unfamiliar with walk-throughs, they are mini-observations in which the principal rounds up all the APs who have not already passed out and tour classrooms to make sure teaching is still going on. They march in, arm-in-arm, clipboards at the ready, and give everything in your classroom the once-over to make sure you haven't decided to abandon the educational ship.

I did have some advance warning. About three minutes before, I received a frantic call from a colleague who'd been dropped in on, and he did the teacher version of Paul Revere (The Admins are coming! The Admins are coming!). Then teacher called teacher, like wildebeest calling to each other across the great Serengeti.

Everything went fine, I am sure, but it still stuck with me that this was no way to treat teachers. My classroom is always open and I am always teaching, but if the purpose of a walk-through is to see typical teaching in action, then don't drop in on an atypical day.

How we teach under extreme conditions in no way reflects our daily practice. So do us a favor, admins---drop in on us on more "normal" days. Then, you're more likely to see real teaching, as opposed to real big pit stains.

3 comments:

Pissed Off said...

They also love to drop in Friday afternoon rigth before a long break. The exec board of the union told the principal how demoralizing this is and he didn't care. He claims he needs to see what is going on at all times. We suggested he looked through the window. This was not good enough for him. It's the old game of gotcha.

Dumbfounded said...

We recently had the surprise "look see" on a Friday afternoon also. We were engaging in a covert CIA operation at the time, but we made it look like us teachers were teaching and our students were actively engaged in learning. Boy, did we get over on that principal!!

Anonymous said...

Love the wildebeast analogy!