Thursday, December 24, 2015

The "Gotcha Mentality" Still Applies To Far Too Many Schools.



























During the Bloomberg Administration the DOE changed from a somewhat benign overlord to an organization that targeted teachers for termination. especially veteran teachers while shifting funding from the schools to the central bureaucracy.  This effort was spearheaded by Chancellor Joel Klein and his Deputy Chancellors, one being Eric Nadelstern who's policies saw the creation of the useless and money-sucking Children First Networks and Principal autonomy while pushing far too many failed Leadership Academy graduates into schools with mostly disastrous results.

 Unfortunately, the Bloomberg Administration was not interested in the students, despite the slogan "children first...Always".  While the DOE Central Bureaucracy became bloated with more lawyers and accountability experts, the schools were being increasingly shortchanged for funds and necessary resources.  Worse, was that class sizes were rising every year and that resulted in New York City having the largest class sizes in the State.  Finally, the Bloomberg Administration put in the "poison pill" called the "fair student funding" that fundamentally changed hiring practices in the system and discriminated against veteran teachers.  Add to this the hiring of many non-educators at the DOE  who bring with them their pet projects and highly paid consultants and the result is that the schools are starved from the resources they need to improve academic achievement.

All this was supposed to change when the "progressive" new Mayor, Bill de Blasio,  put in a career educator as Chancellor, Carmen Farina. However, Carmen Farina was once a supporter of the Bloomberg agenda and was Deputy Mayor under Chancellor Joel Klein before being forced out and replaced by Eric Nadelstern.  Unfortunately, Carmen Farina was not the solution as she retained many of the Bloomberg policymakers at the DOE and this translated down to the hostile classroom environment and the continuation of the "gotcha system".

In far too many schools, the school administration is not collaborative but adversarial.  They will "pop in" without notice and in your worst class, just to get you.  This is not collaboration but confrontation and makes teachers not want to go to school, change schools, or simply quit.  How is that good for the students?  Moreover, when the teaching staff believes that the school administration is out to trap them, teacher morale plummets and many teachers will no longer give that extra effort and do just enough to get the administration off their backs.  These same schools hold teachers solely accountable for student issues, being discipline, cellphone usage, or attendance, while taking no responsibility themselves.  The result is a climate of fear and an "us against them" mentality.  Not a good way to become a successful school..

On the contrary,  a successful school is a collaborative school where the school administration and the teaching staff are on the same page.  These schools will work with the teachers and give them notice that they are coming in to observe them and usually ask them which class would they like to be observed in.  This collaboration makes the teacher fell appreciated and will work that much harder to show the administration that their confidence in that teacher was warranted.  No wonder these schools never need to recruit "quality teachers".  Their reputation of being fair and supportive attracts talented teachers who don't need to continuously "look over their shoulder" fearing the "gotcha system".

An example of schools that use the "gotcha system" goes like this.  One teacher hired in his content specialty to teach Regents courses, was also given a couple of elective courses to complete his schedule.  These classes consisted of unmotivated seniors who just wanted to do a worksheet and socialize, many of them didn't need the course and was simply a fill-in to a schedule.  The administration, knowing full well these two classes were behaviorally, and academically an issue still observed the teacher in these classes rather than the content specialty he was hired to teach.  That's what I mean by the "gotcha system".  A collaborative school would be observing the teacher in his content specialty not in an elective course that is not fair or even appropriate.

Unfortunately, the "gotcha system" is alive and going strong and until the DOE leads by example and encourages schools to appreciate their teaching staff, nothing will change from the Bloomberg years.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

My problem with this blog is that the data does not support this. 97 percent of all teachers were rated at least effective last year throughout the city. Are you saying that the other 3 percent are effective and just being targeted? Or is it possible, that teachers are actually incompetent?

Anonymous said...

Everything you said is true! I worked in a "gotcha" school, where at least 1/3rd of the staff were rated developing or ineffective in just about every component of Danielson. I never did anything extra for the school, nor did I help out any administrators unless there was a clear and immediate benefit to me. Now that I've transferred to a school where I am treated with respect, I go all out and will run through a brick wall for my principal. Turnover is almost non existent here (2 teachers out of about 60 left last year). What a difference a supportive environment makes, but these idiot principals are so power hungry and evil that they can't see that kindness will get them a lot more success than acting like jerks all the time.

Chaz said...

Working in a "gotcha" school just means that you need to protect yourself from getting an "ineffective". So you take precautions and don't trust the school administrators. That doesn't mean you get an "ineffective" rating.

It's not good teaching, just a way to protect yourself from these administrators.

Anonymous said...

11:07

Are you saying its alright to observe teachers outside their subject area? I guess either you are not a classroom teacher or an administrator who cares little about the students.

Anonymous said...

Been teaching over 20 years. Got my first "developing" rating on an unannounced observation not too long ago. Guess the way I have been teaching all these years was wrong!

Anonymous said...

What if you have an asshole administrator who lurks around like the Grinch on the day before the break, laptop in hand, because he can't manage to complete even one round of observations in 4 months?

NYC Educator said...

That's just stupid. Aside from the gotcha thing, why the hell do you bother hiring someone you're gonna treat like that? Incredible that people who think like that end up in positions where they can act on such thoughts. Nonetheless, I absolutely believe it.

Anonymous said...

Gotcha doesn’t mean they have to give you 1’s they can just harass and give lots of 2’s. May not get you fired, but it will demoralize you and others.

You left out programming failing and troubled students into certain teacher’s class. Yes, it happens, and often.

Anonymous said...

Chaz...KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!!!

Anonymous said...

"In far too many schools, the school administration is not collaborative but adversarial. They will "pop in" without notice and in your worst class, just to get you."

Truer words were never spoken. Even though most teachers still get passing ratings at year's end, the unnecessary bullying, gotcha's, threats and sometimes childish behavior is unnerving. Under the old "S" and "U" system, most teachers did well also, but only because it was so much work for an admin to get you, they didn't want to go all the way. Now with Danielson's and the educational destruction, er reform, movement, it's like they want to torture you, even if you wind up getting okay ratings anyway.

Anonymous said...

Chaz, you are right on. I work in one of these schools. Recently, a superintendent came in a dropped ineffectives on almost all of the teachers who were unlucky enough to be observed on the 3C component of Danielson. This was the only component that was rated, mind you. What gives with that?

My take on being ineffective is when a teacher kicks back, put their feet up on the desk, and reads the paper while the students go wild in the class. This is NOT what happens in my school. We are a group hard-working teachers who struggle to educate high school students, the vast majority of whom have simply been pushed through the system, and by the time they get to us, have extremely limited academic skills. This current evaluation system has nothing to do with my ability as a teacher, rather, it's all about the one gets in their classes.

Indeed, the "gotcha" culture is alive and well.

Anonymous said...

Hey 11:07

Didn't you read what Chaz wrote? That the administration was observing the teacher in a "throw away" class not his Regents class. We all would be in trouble if this would continue to be a pattern.

Rita Cat said...

My former Princpal insisted ebserved the day befoe a vacation because it was the best way to know who was doing their job and who wasn't. I thought this was a pretty poor ccommentay on his skill as a Principal and told him so. He didn't have answer for me.

Anonymous said...

How about giving us the names of theses schools, principals and superintendents so we all know then!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh woe unto you,regularly appointed teachers! I, alas,a,lowly ATR,not only didnt get observed on the day b4 break, I received the high sign from payroll (also an ATR) @ 1:30 and left! Then proceeded to spend a,portion of my ill-gotten $102K salary at a landmark deli on slothful portions of corned beef,pastrami and brisket sandwiches topped off with decadent oversized slices of cheesecake for my lucky friends and family.Oh, Lord High Chancellor,forgive me my sins! It has been 13 days since I covered a class. In the past year I bave watched all seven seasons of Mad Men on city time,the Doc Severinson Thanksgiving with Carson clip at least 100 times,spent at least 200 hours reading and posting on Chazs School Daze,L'd OL at the fights on WorldStar,even watched SanAndreas and Zipper on HotBox. Oh Lord High Chancellor, with all humility may I suggest the following penance be imposed upon me for I detest my offences : 1
May my streaming plan be reduced at once from "Unlimited " to a 5G per month plan to discourage further viewing of sub par critical failures 2. Order an expedited Lipid panel to curb my weakness for the meat and excretions animals 3 Revoke my parking permit (h/s, forgot I dont have a parking permit) 4 Take away my bathroom key (h/s, I dont have a bathroom key) Come to think of it, keep your fuc*in parking spot, keep your frig*in bathroom key Im lovin the ATR business! Regular teachers going absent is a growing industry and Im in on the ground floor (w/o an elevator key, but just saying )

Anonymous said...

The story is the same in Newark for veteran teachers in particular. I was observed the day before Spring Break in a class that was far more talkative than usual. I was forced to teach outside my certification. How can I be an expert in a subject of which I know nothing?

Abigail Shure

Anonymous said...

8:16,
I know you're not in the Bronx. I've covered 5 and 6 classes a day since the 1st day of classes. I haven't had one day with less than 5 periods. I'm in my fourth school and each has had a teacher arrested or quit ( Language and Technology had a double - 1 arrest and one quit). 3 out 4 no bathroom keys, impossible parking - I've been taking the cattle car trains, out of control kids and none of the schools has a staff room or teachers cafe. Thank Goodness the weather has been good. I usually sit on the front steps at lunch and inhale the weed the kids smoke in front of me. One offered me a puff the other day, ( I politely declined) - at least he's a lot friendly the staff. I never thought I'd enjoy the smell of skunk, but have grown a fondness for it. Happy Christmas to all and count your blessings.

Anonymous said...

11:37. I feel bad about your plight especially since it could have been me as I turned down a job at Lehman HS
21 years ago. I will never take an offer for a regular job again unless forced by contractual obligation the off stage sh*t(Danielson, Daedulus, Skedula,endless Bullsh*t meetings dealing with parents DOK high order questioning for kids who can barely write their own names,student centered learning,classes over run with 1's and 2's functionality retarded 3rd world immigrants) no,my comrade in arms, not me, I do my 6:50 (or less ) and breeze out the dusty musty overheated p/o/s building w/o a care in the world, no homework to correct,papers to read,tests to grade,no curriculum maps, lesson plans to write,observations to sweat out every day a clear head to enjoy other pursuits including $$ making ones as well as enjoying the company of the never ending stream of newbie initiates I meet every week I couldnt have punched my own ticket any better enjoying my holidays care free no worries about facing down fuc*tards on Jan.4 I couldn't care less just racking up my benefits at last count conservatively estimate Im good for 76K a year and thats if I sit around doing nothing else I earned 70K on a second part time job a few years back and plan on getting back into it again in '16 beats scrounging for per session and or torture of summer school,PSAL or other as* kissing DOE crap yes Im counting my blessings, 11:37, most of all the blessing of good health and the good sense to maintain it,physical and mental,a large part of which I owe to the corrupt,morally bankrupt principal that excessed me over 4 years ago Id me derelict in not including her in my prayers this Christmas Day for freeing my body and mind of the insanity I used to put up with now Im totally focused on the important things I pray also for you and all my colleagues that your lives improve and you can someday be freed as I am take action to try to improve your situation seek transfers sabbaticals,update your resume and network,anything you can think of,even thinking of things will help you Please have a restful break. Your not alone. G

Anonymous said...

Danielson's is the worst teacher evaluation system ever created. The academic who made it has no teaching experience in urban schools like we do. I don't know if she ever really taught in a grade school at all. Anyway, it automatically creates an adversarial relationship between the admin and the teacher. A typical Danielson's debrief goes something like this:

"In this band (3C, 2D, whatever), I didn't see this, this and this..."

I have had nearly two years of this awful system. I would have gotten a Developing last year, for no reason at all, were it not for the silly MOSL, which is another farce. I am considered by nearly the entire staff and student body to be one of the best teachers in the school, and I am told that often. Students who had me last year beg to have me move up a grade and teach them. I'm never late, rarely absent, never behind on the multitudes of faux paperwork we get dumped on us all the time, and I smile and friendly to everyone. (MORMing it!) None of that matters. The 4 ten minute pop-ins are the end all, be all of your rating for the year.

I have only a few more years to go until 55, and I'm outta here! Reduced pension, so be it!

Anonymous said...

Chaz I love your blog because you tell it like it is ...and it's so bad right now . Lucky me retired last year but I wanted to share something in response to the first comment. My last semester teaching the AP was trying to play "gotcha" with me so he directed the programmer to fill my 8th period class with every piece of work student. I had 9th 10th 11th and 12th graders in the same class PLUS many of them were special ed and repeater kids. The programmer told me she would try to tranfer some kids out. I said no bring them on (after 30 years of honing my craft I was a Master teacher)
Best day came when the AP came to observe and left after 10 minutes because all of my students loved the class and were spot on task. Btw one trick I always used on students is that I always told my classes that whenever admin came in the room, the person was there to observe Them! hee hee worked like a charm for years. Hope this idea is helpful to your readers Chaz and Happy Holidays to all.

Anonymous said...

This gotcha-getcha mentality is not about improving teaching, it's about intimidation and subtle blackmail. They want to keep their underlings fearful and totally frightened because it makes them feel safe.

Most of these Admin's would washout of the management track at McDonalds. Their ham-handed techniques are never used in private companies because it engenders resentment from employees. Some of the most dispicable companies did try it (GE and Microsoft), but stopped because even they recognized it was poisoning their cultures.

Anonymous said...

There is systemic discrimination against veteran teachers, and our Union with FariƱa are turning a blind eye

Anonymous said...

Your numbers are a lie. 97 percent of teachers were not rated at least effective. Pulling numbers out of thin air does not make them true. I have watched an administration systematically go after veteran teachers and cause the to totally lose all sanity because of the attacks. There is a school right now that has 7 teachers being brought up on 3020 charges by an abusive administration saying that the teachers are incompetent. Every single one of the teachers has at a minimum 10 years of satisfactory teaching experience. Teachers become suddenly incompetent as their salary rises. If TOA can prepare a person for the classroom in five weeks, then why is it so hard for the DOE to keep teachers with past years of satisfactory service competent?
Unity members need to stop trolling the blogrolls trying to discredit real on the ground intel about the situation teachers are facing in the classroom as the UFT sits around and does nothing. The rating system is rigged and the jig is up. The leadership at the UFT needs to change.

Anonymous said...

4:52:

Here's but a sample of the principals in need of termination:

Dwarka at Bryant. Formerly a nice school. Now a textbook case of gotcha. It wore out a terrific chapter leader, an eloquent, independent voice at the UFT DA's.

Cruz at MAST in Campus Magnet. Work there and the odds are you'll get Ineffective. In the space of 7 years he drove out nearly the entire staff.

And where is the troika of hot air at the Queens boro office, Vasquez, Sanchez and Engler?

Sunita Gandhi said...

Very nice post and good content writing.
Child Centered Education, Alternative Education

Francesco Portelos said...

The names of many these administrators are posted by UFT Solidarity here Administrators in Need of Improvement http://uftsolidarity.org/anoi