So, as teacher as artist, you are perfecting your individual techniques. Don’t forget to explore other ones.
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!
Schools do not necessarily want teachers as artists. I would go so far as to say they hate them. School administrators would like you, as well as your students, to proceed in lock step. Success, they say, can only be obtained in one way. That way changes with the textbooks they have selected to match the tests the district and state have adopted. Currently in our state, the company who develops the tests is also the company that sells the course materials. Do you suppose there may be a conflict of interest?
School districts cannot even differentiate between teaching techniques that work with elementary students from those that work with high school students. I was talking with a high school teacher today who related the content of a mandatory in-service video. This video taught the technique of having students wear their vocabulary on head bands. Can you imagine high school students doing that? Can you imagine how many headbands students in biology or chemistry would have to wear?
Another favorite technique, supported by school districts, is the use of “Word Walls”. The teacher puts the vocabulary terms for the week on the classroom wall and then develop different techniques and games to facilitate the learning of these terms. This has merit in elementary school. However, in an Economics class, it would be silly when there are twenty to forty new terms a week.
Be aware that If you point out “the emperor has no clothes”, they will say that you are absolutely right. However, the principal will be evaluated on these techniques and so will you. What does one do?
You must bifurcate. If you don’t do what the school district wants, they will either fire you, or you will have your contract non-renewed. (Non-renewal is how schools fire people without cause.) Don’t be shocked; it happens all the time. Reasons for non-renewal vary from not having word walls to organizing or supporting a teachers union. Administrators love non-renewals. They don’t have to have a reason to get rid of a teacher, and they don’t have to follow the union contract. This is why school districts prefer to give one hear contracts. This is also why they dislike tenure. Tenured teachers are protected by their contract and can only be dismissed for cause. The choice is yours; teach or follow their insanity.
How do you bifurcate?
First, keep your door closed.
Second, make a check list of the techniques and methodology you are to follow.
Third, be sure to have everything posted and visible that you are supposed to. I.e. “word walls”, “vocabulary head bands”, etc. (Be sure to use the buzzwords of the day. I know a teacher who was marked down on her evaluation because she had her Word Wall labeled as vocabulary.
Fourth, practice using these techniques with the students.
Fifth, always appear to support the new techniques. Make sure your administrator know that you are on board. In faculty meetings be supportive. At the very least don’t question the new methodology. Teachers who object to new methodologies are the ones who get monitored first and most often to see if they are in compliance,
NOW, close your door and teach your students with your best techniques that work with your students. When the administrator shows up, go into a dog and pony show with your students.
EXTRA CREDIT – During an evaluation, try to get the evaluator involved with the kids and lesson. Ask the evaluator to share experiences that would relate to the lesson. Ask the students if they have any questions for the evaluator. More about the evaluation process later.