Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Teacher Working Conditions

Bill Ferriter, aka, The Tempered Radical has a lengthy post on the notion of teacher working conditions.

Without trying to steal Bill's thunder, he presents a number of questions and answers from a forum he spoke at recently. If we accept the premise that quality teacher working conditions directly impact the learning conditions for students, this is an important matter.

For me the biggest question was whether or not teacher working conditions were something that was within the scope of authority of the school principal. Some matters are beyond a principals power, i.e. length of school day, teacher planning time, scope and permissibility of extra duties.

Can or should a principal be evaluated on their ability to provide better working conditions in a school? Can teachers likewise be evaluated on their efforts to improve their own working conditions school wide?

1 comment:

Bill Ferriter said...

Hey Matt,

Good questions that are certainly worth considering for everyone involved in education.

I'm interested: Do you support the idea that teacher working conditions impact the learning conditions for kids? I'm not sure whether I've figured out your position on that.

As far as whether principals and teachers should be evaluated on TWC, I think my position today (and who knows, it might be different tomorrow!) would be yes to both. When people aren't making productive contributions within their sphere of influence (which, as you note, controls the impact that their contributions make) to improve the working conditions in their buildings, then they are having a negative impact on student learning and that should be reflected in their evaluation.

Let me give you one quick example: Under the current teacher evaluation instrument, there is no way for a teacher to be rated negatively on their contributions made to his/her collaborative team. The entire evaluation instrument---with the exception of one small subobjective---is based on observations made during teaching.

But so much of what we're learning about schools is that collaboration with colleagues makes everyone better because practices are shared across hallways.

If a teacher can't---or won't---make productive contributions to the work of his/her team, there should be recourse that principals can take in the evaluation process to "encourage" that behavior. Currently there's not.

Does any of this make sense? I feel like I'm babbling right now----but it's been a long day with kids!