It has snuck up on us once again. It’s time for the annual Teacher Appreciation Week, five days of … in Florida, Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT) has no idea because the governor and his henchpersons have made it very clear how little they appreciate teachers.
Nevertheless, there are a few ways that districts, including GOT’s, could show some love.
- Let me buy an extension cord and maybe a power strip to go with it. Seriously, teachers receive $325 a year to buy things for their classrooms. The only condition is that the purchase must benefit students somehow. Hmmmm, we’ve given every student a laptop computer and bought computer programs for all types of learning. We’ve transformed our classrooms into digital laboratories. And every day, at least half of every class shows up with the same request: the laptop is not charged, the battery is dead, and they need to plug in.
What would benefit students more than a teacher having extension cords and power strips strategically placed throughout the classroom for power-starved laptops to connect to? They need the juice, not teachers.
But no, that’s against the rules.
- Replace the third evaluation metric with a scavenger hunt. 50% a dodgy calculation of data growth by students based on dubious tests, 40% a principal’s ability to hit a 22 point checklist, based on a published theory now repudiated by its creator, in 30 minutes, and 10% on how well teachers have preserved their ability to BS through a bluebook essay in college. Oops, just kidding, that’s the IPDP, once known as the ippy-dippy, but formally is the Individual Professional Development Plan.
What a teacher does is to create a goal, not any old goal, but a SMART goal. (What does anyone have against stupid goals? Seems like we have plenty of them … oops, don’t want a call from Professional Standards. Forget GOT said that.)
Here’s the thing: no one has to achieve the goal. Pick a few things to measure at the beginning of the year because data, data, data! Be careful on this one, though. The district keeps a laser-like focus on end-of-the-year test scores. You know, the ones based on the tests in May.
Now the catch. The IPDP must be completed by April 30. So you can’t use the all-important test scores as a data metric. Gotta pick something else, even if it’s an anticipatory test given in March whose only purpose is to have some numbers to put into the IPDP in April.
Let’s forego this game of Twister, but even that would be more fun. Let’s have an Easter egg hunt. The teacher who finds the golden egg gets a Highly Effective rating for the year. Nothing more needs to be done. As for the rest, the eggs have random scores that will be plugged into the evaluation form.
Oh, teachers! Can you imagine the mayhem as we fight over the best eggs? Find one with a low score and figure out how to throw it out or trick a colleague into a trade.
We could charge the students a fee to video the whole thing on their phones. Might raise a lot of money, even enough to buy everyone an extension cord and a power strip.
Makes as much sense as what we do now.
- Move the district cars out of the back parking lot. Before this year, teachers who worked in the back half of the campus could drive to their buildings and park in the small lots. However, over the summer, the district parked five cars, logos emblazoned on the doors, in the spaces. Those cars have sat in those spaces for almost a year–unused. GOT would suggest selling the not-needed assets, but who is he to advance a common-sense suggestion? But moving them to let teachers park by their buildings would go a long way as an appreciation gesture. (Bonus points if the district plants trees so teachers’ cars could be in the shade all day. This is Florida, after all.)
Let’s say the district did get a great deal on these autos with the personalization thrown in for free. (Don’t ask about the trade-ins; when you’ve negotiated enough car deals you realize you haggle over the differential. Get a high trade-in offer and the dealer won’t discount the sticker price much. If you will take a lower value, the dealer is generous and throws in a lot of extras that cost very little.)
20 grand for each vehicle. That’s 100 thousand dollars worth of painted steel rusting away under the hot Florida sun. If that’s happening at all 22 high schools in the district, that would be … kaching! 22 plus 5 zeroes, or $2,200,000 of inventory wasting away.
At the conclusion at today’s faculty meeting, GOT’s principal informed the captive audience that we would have to meet one more time for the year because the superintendent had some years of service gifts to hand out. Not that she would put in a personal appearance, but that we would have to sit through an assembly to receive service years pins and for those lucky enough to have an anniversary denominated by a multiple of five, some other cheap <ahem> like an acrylic blanket.
At least, that’s what happened last time.
Here’s an idea. Sell the cars, forget the pins and tawdry whatever, buy some Florida Lottery scratch-off tickets, and hand them out with a personalized scraper. It would be appropriate given that a teaching career is a big gamble these days. You might even raise the excitement level in the room to the level of The Santa Clause Part Two, when Tim Allen broke the tedium of the faculty Christmas Party with gifts of childhood toys.
GOT would offer more ideas, but if you go back to the original piece, you will find his first item about the motion detectors for the lights.
Sigh, they still go out.