The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Friday, September 3, 2010


My school does observations and evaluations much more regularly than most schools. Part of our salary is a semi-annual bonus that comes from these evaluations. It is a very complicated system, but basically, good teaching gets bonus money, substandard teaching does not. I have always gotten near perfect reviews on everything, so these have never stressed me out before this year.

The past two years, I have had our high school curriculum coordinator as a reviewer. She was great and we had a great relationship. Her feedback was always right on and was always about things I had also noticed as personal areas for growth  as a teacher. The curriculum coordinator left at the end of last year to spend more time being a mom. I certainly can't blame her. I would never want to be an administrator and a mom at the same time. So, this year, I have an elementary administrator. I have not completely agreed with her feedback. Because it is not really a score and just general feedback, it is hard for me to know where really I am falling with her. Some of it is stuff that just doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me and is easy to fix. More visuals, etc. I just don't have a lot of wall space to hang stuff up. I had a lot of posters last year, but a lot of them are in the closet because I have all windows now. But whatever, I will figure it out. However, some of her comments are pretty serious stuff, like stating that my objective and lesson do not directly align. Eek. That's a pretty serious allegation. That's like, not get my bonus kind of stuff. Not good.

It is frustrating because I disagree; I think that my objectives are just much more big picture/end goal type objectives, and she wants to see simple daily objectives. I don't think it is important for students to know the simple daily objectives. I think that makes them think there is a different goal every day, when I just want them to see where we are going with this so that they have their sights set on the end zone, if that makes sense. I don't really know how to remedy that other than just do what she asks, regardless of if I agree with all of it or not.

The funny thing is... despite the fact that last year's group of sophomores came to me way behind as a result of not having consistent English teachers their freshman year, last year my students were, I think, the only class in the whole school (elementary through high school) to perform above the state average in Language Arts. Doesn't that speak for something? The way that I teach may not be exactly what she wants to see, but I still feel like it is high quality and very effective.

Anyhow... as a result, I am finding myself very discouraged, with very little I can do while I am going on maternity leave for the next few months. I feel like the stuff I have prepared for the students to do this year is going to be amazing, and the students are going to learn so much- and HAVE, even already. Yet, despite the fact that today was a minimum day ("buy back" time for the fact that we worked a Saturday in July), I find myself wanting to rush back to campus this weekend just to hang up a bunch of freaking posters before I go on maternity leave. I have always found so much joy in knowing that I am good at what I do. It is really discouraging to have someone tell you that you aren't as good as you think you are. Instead of making me want to work harder (which I honestly don't think is possible), it makes me wonder why I want to do this at all.

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