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The New Face of an “Ineffective Teacher”

After the debacle I had last year I returned from summer vacation with something to prove. Little did I know my administrator was thinking the same thing. Not in a good way.

I’m a firm believer that a persons actions always speak louder than their words. My principal’s actions were saying a whole lot! So, it was no surprise when I was called into his office and was told that that the Teacher Development Specialists said, “The teachers feel like if I don’t do something they don’t have to do it.” As I sat their I thought to myself, “You all give me too much credit!”

Needless to say I immediately knew that I was in for a fight because one thing I knew about my principal was that he was vindictive and sends other people to do his dirty work.

The Novice Administrator

On our campus it’s common knowledge that he would often use your evaluation as way to render you powerless or to make you conform. In September our grade level decided that we needed to move our gifted and talented students and some high achievers into one class because they were controlling the pace of the classes. My principal was against this idea and tried to deter us from moving the students by putting a whole lot of restrictions on moving the students. Despite his attempts to stop of from doing this we moved the students  anyway. So, it was not surprising the my assistant principal always used this newly formed class for my evaluation.

So They Say “I’m an Ineffective Teacher”

After my first evaluation the dam broke loose! The assistant principal came down to my classroom to let me know that I was being put on a PPA. A PPA is a Prescriptive Plan of Assistance or a growth plan. As she was telling me all of her reasons for doing this I just sat there. While she was talking I was thinking, ” I guess she’s trying to tell me that I’m an ineffective teacher.”

After our conversation I received an email with the PPA attached. If you have never been put on a growth plan your evaluator chooses the area of instruction that you need “help” in. My jaw dropped when I read that my area of improvement! I-1 -Facilitates organized, student-centered, objective-driven lessons.  When I saw that I knew that this was intentional because since last year my principal had been trying to discredit my math content knowledge since last year.

The Invisible Power Struggle

For some unknown reason my principal hired a Math Teacher Specialist who had only had 2 years of teaching experience. He knew that she has not taught any grade level higher than 3rd grade.  All the teachers knew that he put her on a pedestal and were were supposed to listen to her every word because she had 100% of her handpicked class to pass the 3rd grade math standardized test. So, I knew that this move was his way of trying to discredit my 16 years of teaching experience and content knowledge.

Most experienced teachers would have filed a formal complaint but I decided not to for 3 reasons.

  • I knew that I could beat him at his own game
  • The complaint would have taken away my ability to focus on instruction
  • I didn’t want to file a complaint against the assistant principal because I knew that the decision came from the principal

Not So Ineffective

In our state 5th grade is a promotional grade level, so the 5th grade students take their standardized test in March. The test scores came back in April. We all knew that the scores were back. When they came back the math scores had improved by 15 points! You’re probably already know what happened to that PPA. Yep you guessed it! At the end of the year I went from being rated ineffective to effective. Hmmm…..imagine that!

I don’t view my success as a teacher on test scores because that’s 1 data point. I determine my success by how well my math students do in 6th grade math in middle school. In the eyes of the school district the test scores my sores showed that my students and I had a successful school year.

Moving On

At the end of every school year the teachers have a  summative meeting with their evaluators to discuss their evaluation ratings. Before my summative my principal and I had a long conversation about me returning to the school. The conversation was much needed and ended with him saying that if I couldn’t get on board then he ask that I find another campus. I’m a no nonsense person who doesn’t wear their feelings on their sleeves. So I stood up ,shook his hand, and said, “I respect that.” So often as he did during the school year, I let my actions speak louder than my words. I sent him an email that said I decided to transfer to another campus for the 2017-2018 school year.

13 comments

  1. Tanitra says:

    Awesome..you handled this with dignity and grace…this happens more than people know!

  2. e says:

    I wish I could change my campus re-assignment like this. It doesn’t work that way that I know of in Pennsylvania.

  3. Sharon Lenhardt says:

    I had to read this twice! There is no way that happened! That is one of the most insane situation I have ever heard about. If we are going to keep good teachers who are passionate about education and who genuinely care about kids and the whole child’s best interest, we are going to have to start treating them with professionalism. Come to Orlando!

  4. You certainly did handle this situation with dignity and respect. However, I have a few choice words for this administrator that I will keep to myself. I am so sorry you had to endure this situation. I have been a follower of your blog for a little while now, and knowing what I know about you through what you share about your students and family, I know you are nothing less than a passionate and distinguished educator.

    Let me say that you do not know me, and I do not know you, and we have never met. But what I know is that you care about these kids! After all isn’t that the core of teaching; the students. It seems to me your ex-principal has lost sight of that. Seriously, what does “Get on board” mean? If you are about teaching and helping students learn and grow, then you are on board. I want to curse right here!

    As a teacher of a group of gifted students, the struggle to help them grow is real. We all know that these students are also challenging to teach (minus behaviors most times) because it’s difficult to help them grow and make progress year after year because most of them are already at the top. Ooooh, girl, he tried to do you dirty, and my heart aches for you. No teacher should ever be treated this way! You prevailed, and I am more than happy you did. He knew exactly what he was doing in trying to bring you down. I do not believe that test scores by themselves determine whether a teacher is effective or ineffective, but I am glad your students scored higher than anticipated, to put this administrator in his place. He will regret trying to break you and then losing you. Maybe he should take a look at your blog, and learn about who you are, and how committed you are to your students, teaching, and learning.

    I am a 5th grade teacher in Pennsylvania, so in response to your question above, there are almost 500 school districts in this state. If a teacher wants to leave their district for another, they must apply as a new candidate. Additionally, if you want to change buildings within the district you currently work in, you must complete a transfer form. At least this is the way it works in my school district. This may vary by district as some districts are extremely large with about 25,000 students, where my district has about 4,000.

  5. Gepre Henderson says:

    Thank you for sharing this experience! I have never gone through a situation like this, but the way you handled it definitely shows character and integrity. Your level of professionalism speaks volumes in an educational system that is so inconsistent. Standards, curriculum, and educational programs change all the time, but an effective teacher with a heart for their students always wins in my book.

  6. Phaedra says:

    I was in the same boat when my principal transferred me to teach Reading and Writing for 4th grade when I’ve taught Math for the last 10 years. It was a hard but she set me up to fail but she only made me a stronger teacher. Another school wanted me because I was able to teach all subjects.

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