by Alexandra Alves, Chapter Leader, PS 2M
[To speak up about evaluation demands in our upcoming contract, please join MORE at our contract forum on Wednesday, March 14th, 4:30-6:30pm @ CUNY Graduate Center. RSVP / Details here]
Do you dread the Danielson based drive-by observation and the inevitable feedback session and rating, which happens not only once or twice, but several times a year, even though you have consistently received effective and highly effective ratings throughout your career?
Do you feel as if you have lost all pedagogical control over what you teach and how you teach it?
Do you feel utterly devalued as an educator and a professional and thrown up your hands in despair, because nothing you do is quite good enough?
Have you experienced a significant increase in your workplace stress level, lack of sleep and even health related issues, all stemming from a punitive evaluation system which has demoralized you and stripped you of any sense of empowerment and self worth as a professional and educator?
If so, you are not alone. The upcoming contract negotiations has educators all over the city wondering if the UFT leadership realizes just how bad teaching conditions are under the current evaluation system, and whether or not it will make it a priority to demand a lowering of the mandated evaluations to the New York State minimum of two per school year (for starters).
What, exactly, is the problem with the current evaluation system, the union leadership must be wondering, especially if it is in fact true that 97% of NYC teachers receive a highly effective or effective overall ratings?
At the root of the problem, is the undeniable toll it has taken on teachers and the profession as a whole. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word “profession” is defined as “a paid occupation, especially one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification”. And so it is, that NYC teachers are required to acquire a license after completing a teaching degree from an accredited university which includes a period of student teaching. Educators are then given four years to acquire tenure and five years to acquire a Masters. Many teachers end up attaining other Masters degrees, continuing other specializations and furthering their education.
Now, you can imagine, how stunned NYC teachers were, when the new Eval System arrived and they suddenly discovered that they had all been essentially demoted to the status of perpetual student teacher. And here my friends, is the point. If teachers had wanted to remain perpetual student teachers, they wouldn’t have acquired a degree, a Masters, and often a debt. Teachers want their profession back. NYC teachers specifically, would like to see UFT fight this battle and lead this effort nationwide.
Are you frustrated with your loss of professionalism, pedagogic agency, and constant demoralization?
Make sure the UFT hears your voice.