Every now and then, we receive word that so-and-so will be in the building. It'll be someone from some place that matters. Someone who - if we don't look good - will get the bosses at the school in trouble.
Friday was one of those days. My department head came into class during first period, interrupting me, to tell me that so-and-so would be in the building at around one o'clock.
This is supposed to be a signal to me to get the interior decorating in line. Are the crappy photocopies of the core learning goals of the state somewhere to be found? Do I have classroom rules up? Am I stating my goals and indicators for the day?
Because in this system, good teaching isn't about connecting with the kids, or providing rigorous instruction. It's about the "look-for"'s - the things that someone who is above the teacher on the educational totem pole can see posted in his classroom or written on his chalkboard. If the "look-for"'s are up, then everyone can pat themselves on the back and congratulate themselves on doing a good job.
The key is to make your objectives as vague as possible, so you can spend the time actually concentrating on constructing the lessons - not what's on the chalkboard. Throw in the state standards for good measure, maybe even memorize a couple. Another key is to put the core goals up somewhere on the first day of the school year, so they're always there to point out if asked. Then, you are a great teacher.
This year, I decided to add my bit of civil protest to the visit. I posted a sign outside my door stating my class size of every class (average of 34, including all the way up to 37), and my class load (167 students). I worded it in a positive manner, and was not the first in my department to do it; it was sort of an unofficial protest by several members of the department. We are down 2-and-a-half English teachers from just two years ago, and class sizes have skyrocketed, and people should know.
Then, no one showed up. We often have false alarms about "visits," and it's amusing and disconcerting to see the higher-ups get flustered about it. Lots of learning is happening in my classroom (especially last week... what a week!), and, frankly, I'm not worried about someone visiting it. I actually like people in my classroom; I want them to see what we're doing. But no go this time.
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