. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: August 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

I’m Baack! (I hope…)

So here I sit, avoiding doing all the work I have on my growing to-do list for school (which starts in about a week) by posting a bit on The Bits.

Where was I?

In short, I was busy just trying to survive the most difficult school year I've ever had and doing so without finding the funny in it. The last thing I wanted to do when I got home was revisit my school day online.

BUT, it's a new year and a fresh start and I am rejuvenated and fired up again! (Did I use enough "ands"? I've got a quota to meet, ya know.)

Nothing gets a girl fired up more than some good old public education controversy.

Anybody heard about the LA Times releasing LA Unified School District teachers' ratings based on their students' progress on California state testing?

I got myself all caught up in reading all the responses to the article. The only conclusion I've reached thus far is that rating teachers is a complicated and messy business! I certainly have more questions than answers.

Take the class we (my teaching partners and I) just finished teaching (PLEASE!). In my opinion, they made very little progress last year. We spent far more time putting out fires all day long than we did teaching standards and that drama lasted all year long. We fought the same behavior battles day after day and tried millions of intervention techniques, but with little success. However our students, who came to us quite low, did comparatively well on the state test. They tied for first place in the district in math and tied for second in language arts!

Clearly, we did more teaching of standards than we thought, however that does not mean that we really had a significant impact on those students in the areas that they really needed help. It felt good to see that they had done well on the state test, don't get me wrong, but at the end of the day, we were unable to effect any change in their social behavior which may impede them more than anything else in the future.

Sure, at the time of the test, they could do multi-digit multiplication but if they're doing it while punching another kid in the face does it really help them become successful adults?

I'm not fishing for compliments here. We all understand the value and limitations of standardized testing. What I really would like to hear is…

What constitutes an effective teacher and a successful school year to you?