Why I'm Rallying Tomorrow

December 1, 2012

This past Tuesday, I attended an event with Chancellor Walcott hosted by Educators for Excellence with three of my fellow teachers for a very specific reason—we wanted to get answers and voice concerns about teacher evaluation that have arisen over the past 3 months.

When I found out that our school would participate in the New York City Department of Education’s Teacher Effectiveness Pilot (TEP), I was excited. After four years of teaching, TEP was finally a chance to receive differentiated and meaningful professional development to realize the greater potential in my students.

However, only some of my expectations have been met. My colleagues and I have seen how quickly the original intent of the TEP – to support and develop quality teaching – was lost in its implementation. But instead of complaining about it, we decided to become a part of the conversation to improve it.

The E4E event brought policy makers directly to the teachers. It became clear that that the Chancellor and his staff have high hopes for what TEP could do for teachers and our students. It seemed that many of my peers’ biggest concerns were like my own. School leaders are having difficulty communicating how TEP should work with and train teachers in the new system, and explain how it will improve their practice. DOE staff reassured us that there are currently many measures in place for training principals, both in conjunction with the Talent Coaches and from PDs held by the DOE to ensure consistent observational practices.

I recognize that changing a system that influences teachers’ livelihood, career and professional practices is not an easy task. From my experience, TEP has shown me that there needs to be more effort put into educating and training both administrators and teachers in this new system, especially in using the Danielson framework. But the event on Tuesday also reminded me of my initial excitement about participating in TEP, because a comprehensive evaluation system would finally give me the opportunity to grow and develop as a professional in a meaningful way. I believe in the positive impact that a fair, multi-measured evaluation system can have on my teaching and my students’ learning. It is now imperative that both the UFT and the DOE be fully committed to coming into an agreement on an evaluation system that will empower teachers to increase student learning. I intend to continue reminding them of that as they work together to make a deal happen in the next 49 days.

We are the change makers. We are the ones that turn non-readers into lovers of books, a writer of simple sentences into an essayist. We can use those same skills to be a part of this conversation and policy-making. This is why I am attending E4E’s “Move Beyond Satisfactory” rally this Sunday at City Hall. The rally is our chance to tell the DOE and the UFT that teachers want a better evaluation system administered by school leaders who are well trained and able to fully support our teaching. We, the teachers, the problem solvers, are the ones that need to tell the DOE and UFT what a meaningful, multi-measured and fair evaluation system should look like. 

Join me on Sunday to ensure that our voices are a part of the conversation.

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