My students love Connect-the-Dot puzzles, mainly because they think it’s fun and because they love numbers about a billion times more than letters. In keeping with that theme, I’ve decided to share with you 10 dots that get you from my windowless classroom to what’s become a fishbowl reality.
Dot 1: My classroom is approximately 12’x25’ complete with 2 windows: 1 skinny tall one on the door and 1 next to the door that has cage-wiring inside it so is pretty useless as an actual window.
Dot 2: My windowless classroom sits in the Osborn School District and my school district loves to partner with Arizona State University (ASU) in hopes of bettering our teaching and student learning.
Dot 3: As part of our partnership with ASU, we started participating in something called TAP. TAP stands for Teacher Advancement Program and is used as a way to measure teacher-added value, among other things
Dot 4: TAP is built upon a ladder of administrators, master teachers, mentor teachers, and career teachers who evaluate one another based on surveys and a 19-indicator rubric. This rubric covers everything, just everything.
Dot 5: TAP allows those above you to evaluate you on a 19-indicator rubric. This requires a number of announced and unannounced observations throughout the school year. This year, we’re doing two announced and two unannounced observations.
Dot 6: These four observations are not the only ones my students and I live through. Although I have my own classroom, I’m teaching on special permission from my school district and an Intern Certificate from the Arizona Department of Education. I’m formally observed a total of six times throughout the year as required by my grad program.
Dot 7: Informally, the ASU program coordinator based in my district comes in for weekly visits. These are really no big deal, but certainly add to the fact that the plant manager should just replace my swinging door with a revolving one.
Dot 8: Dots 5 + 6 + 7 = 10 formal observations + 38 or so informal visits. This doesn’t include any number of random administrator or Board member walk-throughs.
Dot 9: If you loop back to Dot 1, you’ll remember that my classroom has no real windows, which means walk-throughs cannot, in fact, be walk-throughs. Thus, I’ve concluded that even though my classroom is completely closed off to the rest of reality, my students and I actually live in a fishbowl. There are constant observations, visits, and walk-throughs happening.
While at times I feel like life in the classroom has become a constant reality show, I know that those “show times” are when I’m most effective as a teacher and my students are learning the most so, fishbowl reality, I got you.
Dot 10: I know some teachers in my district are upset about the TAP observations. Personally, I’ve decided they’re here to stay so I might as well accept them, but I know I’m one of the few. How about you? Do you and your students operate in a fishbowl as well? What are your thoughts on formal observations and informal visits? I’d love to learn more about how things work in other districts.