Today was Meeting Day in the Tower or Trembling Temerity. For those of you gainfully employed (or not gainfully employed, if you also happen to be a teacher) elsewhere, I want you to understand that I spent the entire day in a succession of meetings which were apparently competing for the award of Perfectly Platitudinous. Most of what was presented to us today was perfectly predictable, but some of it was actually so obvious that it didn’t need to be said at all.
We were told today again that the most important thing is the growth and success of our students. To this end, we will be arbitrarily evaluating our students with multiple choice tests in order to subjectively determine how well our teachers are doing.
We were also reminded today that teachers are unprofessional and incompetent as a class and can’t be trusted to evaluate our work or the work of our peers. Because of this, our peers will be evaluating our work and scoring it low to encourage a more fair assessment of our skills.
It was also made plain that I have almost entirely misunderstood my role in my school. Apparently I have been laboring under the assumption that was employed to be a teacher. I have always thought of teachers as very advanced students of a subject whose breadth and depth of knowledge dwarfed the students and who acted as a guide and tutor so that others could acquire that knowledge. In my head, teachers are people who ask the “why” and “what” questions and help to further the understanding of the next generation in the process. This is not actually what I was hired to do. It became clear to me that I am not being asked to be a teacher, but rather an education technician. Education technicians are not concerned with “why” and “what” questions and in fact, they are not even required to have any detailed knowledge of the subject at hand. Instead, education technicians are required to understand the “how” of education. We are required to be experts at parsing test scores, maximizing information retention, and organizing group activities.
I found the whole exercise today to be more than a little depressing. Tomorrow I’ll be crafting my group activities and differentiated lessons so that when my test scores don’t come back as high as some other teachers, I can at least say that I did what I was told. I feel foolish for spending all this time worrying about whether or not my students were learning anything useful, but now I know better and I’m confident that in a few short years I will be able to work my way up the performance evaluation tool to “adequate.”