Do You Think This Is Fair?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by KinderCowgirl, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Dec 17, 2014

    Kind of hypothetical since it happened to a colleague and not to me but I'm wondering about opinions here. Everyone knows how crazy this last week of school is before the winter break. :dizzy: We have our days interrupted with kids being pulled out to rehearse for the Christmas program, the actual Christmas program, a field trip, invited parents in for class party activities. Do you think it's fair to do an official observation at this time for their evaluation? The only day that's officially off limits is the day before a holiday, and I understand that but I'm not sure you are going to get a good snapshot of what regularly goes on by popping in this week.

    And believe me, I am not the it's-the-last-week-before-Christmas-so-I'm-going-to-pop-in-a-movie-in type (I actually have never shown a movie in class). But certainly many of the activities we do have planned daily-like making presents for their parents or cards to send to soldiers are of the fluffier variety. Not to mention the kids have very limited attention spans these days.

    What do you think?
     
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  3. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    Dec 17, 2014

    I'm not sure if it's fair, but it happened to me too yesterday. I was observed unannounced, a few days before our holiday break - by the superintendent no less- after kids had just come back from an assembly. During the observation, kids were popping in and out of the room for speech and OT pull outs. It was crazy chaos. I don't even know how I did, because it takes forever for them to get back to me. I guess that's because Danielson is so intense.

    In my previous district, I was observed one week into the school year. I had been teaching there exactly 6 days and the principal complained at length that my room wasn't decorated enough. Now that, to me, was unfair.

    Good luck to your colleague.
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 17, 2014

    There are good things for admin to see even during more 'fluffy', holiday activities. I can speak to all I do.
     
  5. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Dec 17, 2014

    Same exact thing happened to me...3 days into the school year! My admin also complained that my reading centers/guided groups were not fully up and running yet, on the 3rd day of school. It's good to have reminders of why I am so thankful for my current school, haha.

    To the OP, I'm honestly not sure how I feel about that situation. I am doing regular activities up until Friday of this week because I feel like my students really need the structure. Friday is a half day for students anyway so I'll be doing my "holiday fluff" activities then. I guess I would expect that the lessons would still be good/purposeful even though it's the week before break, so I don't think it should matter. However, I think this could depend on the school and your schedule.
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    We don't have any off-limits days. I was once observed on the day I returned from a 10-week leave and my students were meeting in a non-classroom because my classroom had been destroyed during my absence. I had been given no notice that my classes would be meeting in that location, so I had no materials, not even a marker for the board. It was awful. I also think that it was really unfair, and I said so afterwards. Because of all the good evals I've had over the years, they did eventually chalk that one up to a weird situation and gave me a re-do a few weeks later. I was (and still am) super bitter about the whole thing.
     
  7. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Dec 18, 2014

    What they are looking for is use of higher-level strategies, differentiation-they were making picture frames for their parents neither of those things pertained. Organized classroom (I know personally I have the gifts for 28 kids out, donations for our class party Friday, crafts drying everywhere), statements of yearly goals for the class with the objectives, students recording their data.

    My friend got marked down in many areas where she is usually very successful.
     
  8. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Dec 18, 2014

    I don't think instructional time should be used for fluff activities unless they are tied to learning objectives. Picture frames could be done during centers or at another time.
     
  9. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Dec 18, 2014

    In most schools now-a-days, there is no non-instructional time. I have no problem at all giving kids some fluff activities during holiday time. It helps relieve the tremendous stress they are all under due to intense testing.
     
  10. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I don't see the harm in allowing children to have a few minutes of fun at this time of year.
     
  11. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    I think they are rushing to finish the evaluation and didn't plan well before the break. They could have done it a week ago. Our evaluations are done within 4 weeks of when they are actually due (formally they are done once a year) so someone dropped the ball and now they are just trying to get it over with and not thinking about how it interrupts the class.
     
  12. dr.gator

    dr.gator Comrade

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    Dec 18, 2014

    I would have been frazzled and worried and upset and not liked it. It does sound as if the principal was trying to squeeze in first semester observations at the last minute. However, for me teaching is a stage. You get on that stage every morning to do what you do best for who ever is in your room. I've always said, for twenty two years now, that what you see on a day when it is just me and my kids will be the same as a day when the most important person in the world is in my room. Now, that doesn't mean that I don't hop on the dog and pony show when someone important comes in, but I think an observation during the last week of school, while it is not the most desirable option, is doable.
     
  13. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Dec 18, 2014

    No, not fair. Also not fair that I have to have my kids doing small Christmas (winter) crafts in secret because I know I would be in trouble for it. But both happen at my school.
     
  14. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Dec 18, 2014

    I think, if the culture of the school is such that doing craft projects for parents and the like is allowed/expected, it is unfair to dock her for doing that at the time. If they had to squeeze in the observations, they could at least have asked if there was any time that day that wouldn't work (or something like that).
     
  15. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Dec 18, 2014

    My principal stopped in to do my one yearly observation this week, and the kids were making Christmas ornaments (she didn't do the observation). I emailed her our schedule for the week, because I'm also doing a few assessments, which wouldn't make for a great observation. She decided to observe me after break instead.

    I think the behavior of the students this week is definitely a downside to being observed this time of year. My class is just NUTS, but administrators might like to see how I react in that type of situation. However, I would agree with you on the content/teaching aspect. I'm most likely not using technology, differentiating, and asking higher-level questions when making Christmas cards for troops.
     
  16. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Dec 18, 2014

    Exactly! This is the type of stuff they'll remember. My 2nd-graders still talk about the gingerbread houses they made in 1st grade. We're having fun and building memories. Kids need a break once and a while, too.
     
  17. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    While not fair, it is understandable. For many districts, it is getting very close to the end of the semester, so gaps need to be plugged before the new semester begins. It is just admin getting their work done in a time frame probably mandated by the state in some document. So sad, but true.
     
  18. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    Our principal actually sent us an email last week and said we could do all the fluff stuff as long as our tests were done. Mine were so we have been doing fluff stuff all week. But did some learning with that fluff!
     
  19. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Dec 18, 2014

    Yes, it's fair.

    However, a prudent observer would have to keep in mind those considerations, and if it were a problem would choose a different day.
     
  20. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Dec 18, 2014

    I once had an observation during the week before Christmas. While it went fine, I did think that it was unfair. There are so many distractions for the students at that time. I know lots of other teachers were upset too. That was 10 years ago, and it hasn't happened since.
     
  21. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Dec 18, 2014

    One year I had an observation an hour before our Valentine party. It was extremely difficult to keep them focused on math! Luckily, my AP took that into consideration, but not all admins do. I hate that this happened for your friend. Sometimes reality doesn't match the textbook picture perfect classroom.
     
  22. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    I got observed on Monday this week. 'Dems da breaks! It was fine. She was very generous with her ratings, considering my small group work was a little more fluffy than usual. They were truly just trying to meet a deadline.
     
  23. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    I got observed a day or so before Halloween this year.
     
  24. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    I was observed on a day when I had a field trip rain out. I totally get how frustrating it is to be observed at a time that is not typical.

    Like others, I would presume that your admins have not scheduled their time properly and left the observations til the end.

    As one who does observations, I try to be mindful of all the factors that comprise the day I am doing the observation. (Did the class arrive from assembly? Did the school have a fire drill earlier? etc.) Personally, I do not like to observe during days that are atypical, and I try to set up a schedule well in advance to avoid putting one of my colleagues in a position where they feel their observation is unfair. However, some of the admin at my school do their observations looking for the worst times to see what a teacher does in those events.

    I'm sorry this happened to your friend.
     
  25. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Dec 22, 2014

    I don´t think it´s fair because the kids are always crazy during that week. The only way I could consider it fair is if admin is consistently doing observations and have several fall observations to compare it to. I too keep doing academics that week. We do make a gift for the parents (a simple ornament that´s done in one rotation in one day, so not too much time is sacrificed), but that is literally the only ¨fluffy¨ (and it´s not too fluffy because really the parents like it and it´s such a nice thing for the kids to practice generosity) thing we do. I even gave a math test on Friday! I only did that because this was a chapter on repeating patterns and I knew my kids could still handle a test like that even in the chaos of the last week.
     
  26. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Not fair at all. I was observed the day before break, in the afternoon one year. Rates as my worse observation ever. It was also the only observation for the year.
     
  27. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    That´s so unfair!
     
  28. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Dec 23, 2014

    I should also say it was the ONLY formal evaluation I had at that school. It was year 7. I was also asked if my husband's job provided health insurance.

    Little did I know that my P was leaving and they were preparing to make some, not so good, changes.
     
  29. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    It's happened to me before. It sucks, but you have to look at it from the perspective of the admin. They're probably not doing it to be vindictive, but because they have to. It just so happens that my AP finishes his informals in late Nov/early Dec. Then he starts formals. There are a lot of people he has to observe and a lot of things interrupting him from observing people. He has to get them done when he can get them done. That means some people are going to be stuck going just before the holidays. At least they get it over with before the holidays. This year he randomly selected names so it was fair (in the past he pretty much always went in the same order which wasn't fair.) I don't think my students were too impacted by it and my observation went fine.
     
  30. PinkCupcake

    PinkCupcake Cohort

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    Dec 27, 2014

    :yeahthat: This happens at my school ALL the time and it's so frustrating!
     
  31. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    I'm leaning to the side of it being unfair, however, I assume any P who does this either didn't manage his or her OWN time well enough to observe sooner OR they purposely wanted to do it then to see exactly how the teacher handles change from the norm. If the P's going to do this during the last week before the break, I don't think they should do it to a 1st or 2nd year teacher.
     
  32. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Dec 28, 2014

    Not necessarily. It just happens this way at my school. They can't start them until a certain date in mid-October. They start with informals, those take a certain amount of time. The AP has plenty of other responsibilities that keep him from doing observations every single day. Last year he just got all of the observations done in time- 3 informals and 1 formal for every teacher. There are a lot of teachers at my school- lots of days before a break/long weekend, other meetings, testing days, etc. etc.
     

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