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View Diary: The myth of the 'excellent teacher' (17 comments)

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  •  behavioral sink has a HUGE effect (3+ / 0-)
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    Naniboujou, Mostel26, Oh Mary Oh

    The makeup of a classroom has a huge effect on the learning environment and to a large extent is completely out of the teacher's control.  This as much as anything else belies the "excellent teacher" myth.

    My partner is an excellent teacher, at least as claimed by other teachers, the admin, parents and students. Yet, she always has certain classes that are consistently difficult and frustrating.  These classes often contain just a few disruptive kids who sour the environment for everyone, but sometimes it's more subtle than that.

    She's an old hand and knows from years of experience how to maintain control of these classes and keep the learning on track, but sometimes it is a struggle, and the increasing class sizes are making it harder and harder to maintain order in her classes. It alarms her to think that some day she may be evaluated based on what some unaware administrator sees in an observation in one of these challenging classes.

    "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

    by quill on Thu Mar 07, 2013 at 11:48:20 PM PST

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    •  There is only so much a teacher can do. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, Oh Mary Oh
      It alarms her to think that some day she may be evaluated based on what some unaware administrator sees in an observation in one of these challenging classes.
      That's my day in a new school. I teach basically the 5% of students that are Title 1 students at a Title 3 school that make up 90% of the school's referrals (not just from me) all day long. I never see my school's typical A school student. My very worst classes (2 of them) were the only my new administrator was willing to come in and review in the fall semester due to lunch schedules and her schedule until I complained and went to the union. Finally, she came into one of my other classes and her review was completely different. She acted as though the feedback has turned me around but the reality is that with 25 remedial students per class (ESE/ESOL/you name it) that have persistent behavioral problems that are never addressed when referrals are sent down and no parental support, it is hard to win over every class. Some have students who refuse to do anything and bad combinations of students, and administration does not support modifications or do anything about it. (Students have attacked each other at my school and brought drugs to school and they haven't even been suspended for it. Forget classroom misbehavior being handled, because remember these students are a small minority of the school's population and are just ignored.)

      Unless I remove students from class constantly, there is little I can do with certain students. But I know it's not just me - they act the same everywhere. It just so happens that they are mixed in with more "willing to learn" students in most of their classes. Half of the remedial education (reading and math strategies we call them) teachers have quit this year and they've not kept any but 1 teacher and the reading coach for more than a year in those positions.

      Needless to say, I won't come back to this school again. I switched districts and didn't know any better but now I know where to go.

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