A repost from 2013, found by Betty. I had some fire going on in my attitude that year:
We need to make a new category that answers this question:
What specific resources do we have to deal with administrators who AREN’T going to be swayed by any amount of research and who rather rudely come into our classroom with sharpened pencil and with their boxes needing to be checked?
I’m talking about the really dimwitted admins who walk in and see (grossly incorrectly) what they think is a teacher oriented classroom and evaluate us in those terms, those new robotic terms sweeping education now, and fail to even see what we are really doing.
Specifically, what concrete things to we need to turn our attention to when the idiot is in our classroom to make sure we get the boxes checked?
This is no small matter and I would guess directly affects at least 75% of the teachers in our communityn so contribute your ideas, and please take this request very seriously. We need to get specific here!
I would like a teacher in this situation next year to have a flow chart or at least be able to instantly consult a category of concrete things they can do when being observed by the idiot so that the idiot checks the right boxes in front of them.
If you care to read it, here is the letter from one of our group members, along with my responses, that prompted this request for a new category called “Observations By Idiots, What To Do”:
I am writing to ask if a) you have resources on your PLC that are targeted to dealing with admins/evaluation processes/colleagues in a way that does not totally tip your hand about committing to whole-class Comprehensible Input methods, but also does not require you to actually change your in class approach to teaching using CI; and, b) if you have considered making a ‘toolbox’ of such resources similar to other things in development on your site.
To explain: I had an administrator do a ‘walk through’ of my classroom recently here in MA while I was doing a Matava story with my kids, and although she was very impressed with the level of student engagement, honest to God spontaneous spoken Latin from the superstars, etc., she also noted that the class was very “teacher centered,” presumably because students were not interacting in small groups, were not “teaching each other,” etc., and because I was the one who was reading the prompts and providing the input.
My response: This is a very hellish kind of thing for this idiot administrator to say to you. we know that it is unfair to say that the method is teacher centered when you are the only one who knows the language. It is cruel and stupid on her part. Robert has addressed this extensively. That said, she is in a position of power over you. Nothing could be worse. Nothing could be more unfair. Obviously, different people handle it in different ways. I am not in that situation myself anymore, praise be to God, but when I was, I just tried to maintain a low profile. Usually these people forget their own criticisms because they have so much to do. I listen and say thank you and they forget it. That is my approach. I must say that I think we have a load of teachers in this group who really care too much what people think and say about them. But that lack of concern can only come with time, I have found out. I really believed that those idiots had power over me when I was younger, as well, so I will cast no stones. Only now in my 36th year do I see how petty and small and insignificant those admins are, and, if in their pettiness and smallness I lose my job, then so be it. But I won’t ever give them my sense of peace and balance ever again in my job. Thirty years was enough to worry about what these fools thought of me.
So Ben, in a situation like this, as a first year teacher, with a notoriously difficult administrator, in a school where I would LIKE to stay teaching, I am wondering if the PLC community has advice on how to the take the coward’s way out and modify lesson planning to at least APPEAR ‘student centered’ in the buzzword sense, while still keeping a steady flow going of the CI that the research indicates will actually help my students learn Latin.
My response: Yeah we will ask the group and get plenty of suggestions. Like dictee the minute the admin walks in, instantly making it student centered. Or pair share on a reading or something, that early (step #3?) listed in Reading Option A, to again allow the idiot to see kids working together and thus you get the box checked for Student Centered Activities.
I ask this because it seems like the approach of closing the door and just doing what the research from Krashen tells you will work is going to be going away in my state, at least in my school system, where they have just approved a comprehensive evaluation system replete with checklists for things like “student centeredness” and “standards based learning” etc. etc. As much as I have had my hands-down BEST first year teaching experiences doing PQA, TPR stories, etc., I also want to keep my job and not get dinged on evaluations for the dreaded “teacher centered” lesson.
My response: I hear you. This is one for the group. I think it is a question of your being able to instantly pop into the shape of the teacher the admins are looking for. There are some articles and categories on this here. It is not a new problem and you are certainly not alone. Good teachers are losing their nerve in these settings like you are experiencing. Tons of teachers are quitting. It is very serious, as well know – a kind of extreme crisis in the middle of a war. You are right to bring it up. I think a successful response by the group is possible. do not let me drop this topic until you are fully satisfied with what we create for the flow chart, if we get one on this topic, or the new category, which, again, is entitled “Observations By Idiots, What To Do”.
So what I am wondering is if you have considered making available some resources for dealing with administrators who AREN’T going to be swayed by any amount of research, etc. well no but we could do it as a group process.
Again, if nothing else, I wanted to thank you for your awesome, just-about-lifesaving PLC. It has restored this classicists faith in the vitality of his beloved ‘dead’ languages.