Teacher Accountability from Dina’s Eyes. . .

One of my favorite edubloggers is my girl Dina Strasser over at The Line.  Dina’s brilliant, and she regular pushes my thinking about all things education—and she’s done it again in a recent post about teacher accountability.  She starts by writing:

So where do we get off, really, thinking that we are beyond the accountability measures we impose on our own kids? Seriously. If they get a quarterly review, then that’s the least we can ask of ourselves.

I’m also tired of waiting for my employers to walk in here– be that a supervisor, a principal, a superintendent, or a parent– and ask me questions about my practice that I am unprepared to answer because my implementation is generally solid, but my documentation sucks.

She goes on to lay out a ten point plan for what she’d like to be held accountable for that includes student performance scores, family outreach, professional reading and writing, and collaboration with colleagues.  It’s really an impressive collection of indicators that I believe would challenge any accomplished teacher to improve—as opposed to most current teacher evaluation programs which reward the bare minimum.

I think Dina left out a key point in her accountability plan, though—and I told her so.  Here’s what I wrote:

Missing, Di?

I don’t think you’re missing a thing. In fact, I’d venture to say that you’ll kill yourself just trying to keep up with the tasks that you’ve listed!

What’s funny to me is that the Vanilla Icing is all that your district probably evaluates you on, right? As long as the kids are quiet and you sign in on the morning sign in sheet, you’ll probably earn “Above Average” ratings on the ol’ evaluation and get your union-mandated pay raise.

But if you’re really looking to add to the list, why don’t you consider getting involved in some heavy duty policy advocacy stuff at the district level.

I’d love to see you at school board meetings every month, making your voice heard. Maybe consider embracing the backwards board member that believes teachers are best seen, not heard. Take him out for coffee every now and again. Fill his ears with brilliance.

I think policy advocacy is one of those things that classroom teachers tend to overlook because it seems intimidating to us. Besides, half the time, we don’t know where to begin.

But in reality, policy advocacy is nothing more than developing relationships with the right people. Becoming the “go to” guy or gal for those who hold formal organizational power is the lever that we can use to drive change from the classroom.

Whaddya’ think? Are you going to add it to your list?

If you did, would you remove something that already exists?

So what do you think?

Should advocacy be something that all teachers are expected to engage in?  Does accomplishment carry the responsibility for elevating voices and shaping decisions beyond our classrooms?

Or can one be accomplished without ever trying to reach beyond their classrooms?

Would you want to be held accountable for being an advocate for education?  How would that change your work?  Better yet, how would it change our profession?

 

4 comments

  1. Dina

    I am so not brilliant. 🙂 Willing to write about things willy nilly and jump into the resulting fray? Perhaps.
    Thanks for the props. Made my day.

  2. Larry Ferlazzo

    Bill,
    I’m all for challenging teachers to beyond our individual classroom walls and think in terms of institutional change.
    In addition, how about teachers challenging themselves to agitate students to advocate on their own behalf — whether it is around education issues or something else. It seems to me that one of our responsibilities is to help students participate in civic life.
    Larry

  3. Adam

    Bill,
    Advocacy isn’t a bad idea, but we have to make sure that we have some strategies for how to advocate. I know you only gave one example, but there are many ways to be strong advocates for education. PTA meetings, parent nights in the community, and joining the local chamber of commerce education committee are just a few.
    Also, it is worth noting that the ISLLC standards http://wps.ablongman.com/ab_bacon_edadmin_1/0,6183,462533-,00.html for school administrators does have a piece on advocacy. How many of our school leaders are actually involved in this practice? Do they provide the correct models for teachers?

  4. Kimberly McCollum

    I think the world would be a better place if more teachers became advocates for education. Still, I don’t think you should hold someone accountable for being an advocate. For example, consider the situation when a teacher and her principal are on opposing sides of a position. Public advocacy could make for extremely uncomfortable working conditions, which would likely have negative implications for her students. Advocacy should be encouraged, but not required.