Monday, January 26, 2009

Quality Control

Today at our faaaabulous faculty conference, we got to read the School Quality Review report. Since this report was already dissected in infinitesimal detail at an earlier faculty conference, I felt no need to read it.

Can I rant for a sec about this? Yes? Good. Our review was conducted by one of the Brits and a lady (and I use the term very loosely!) who was a former principal. Now, since this lady was not nearly old enough to be retired, I am very interested to know why she is no longer a principal and why she is out doing quality reviews. Make of that what you will. The Brit did not make a peep during the process; the former principal was clearly the stronger personality.

I got to spend way more time with these people than I would have liked. I was called to meet with them personally. I dutifully lugged my TANs (one for each class, and each one is very thick) and my laptop to the meeting, though the SQR team didn't actually look at them. (All for the best. I still don't know what's actually supposed to be in those TANs.) They also visited my classroom for a long, uncomfortable period.

None of the above is actually a problem for me personally. My AP and I get along reasonably well and she thanked me personally for doing a good job during the review, so I have no actual beef with her. She can be a little flaky but is hardly nasty or unreasonable, and knowing what's out there in the DOE, I feel pretty darn lucky. No, my "chief beefs," if you will, are really with the rest of the process. To wit:

1.) The former principal lady showed up late for both days of our review. One day an hour late, the other day three (3!) hours late.

2.) Our entire directive, from our administration, on the issue of "goals" was as follows: "Make sure your students have goals." Um, okay. I had my kids do a little worksheet on goals and how to make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed). But APPARENTLY these goals are supposed to be much more elaborate, which, you know, would have been nice to know BEFORE the SQR. And the kids' families are supposed to know them, too. Um. Right. I can imagine one of my favorite (really, not being sarcastic) parents summing this up as such: "My son's goal is to not fail all his subjects this marking period so I don't BEAT HIS ASS again." That seems an admirable goal.

3.) Apparently we, as a school, are not using data effectively enough. It's hard for me to take a position on this. On one hand, I could admit that I have a lot to learn about using data, sure. On the other hand, I'm not sure when I'm actually supposed to grade papers and plan lessons if all my time is spent "analyzing data." Those of you in the NYCDOE have probably played around with ARIS and Acuity at this point and know that they are, in general, not terribly helpful, inasmuch as they don't tell you anything you don't already know (or couldn't easily find out during a quick chat to a guidance counselor or a kid's former teacher) and they're very unwieldy (I'm looking at you Acuity--ever try to assign work to fiftysome kids on Acuity? Good luck with all that). And I'm supposed to spend hours of my precious time on this shite? Don't think so.

So that was my SQR experience. I imagine others have had similar (possibly worse) ones. It wasn't my first SQR and I suppose it won't be my last, but Lord, if I never hear the word "data" again, it will be too soon.