Friday, January 30, 2015

Chap. 92: ATR Priorities: My Way or the Highway

Chapter 92: ATR Priorities

    The ATR rotation came to an end for me the week of Thanksgiving, 2014.  That week I was sent to the Women’s Academy of Excellence to perform as a maternity leave replacement for one of their English teachers.  This is an all girls school in the Bronx, a place I knew nothing about before arriving there.
    Seven weeks later I have nothing but good things to say about the school and the people running it and teaching in it.  In my humble opinion as a roving, excessed ATR indigent, the principal, Dr. Crocker, and her assistants Mr. Molina and Mr. Ford along with the entire staff are nothing if not dedicated to their students.
    I taught the final six weeks of the semester to five classes and was responsible for the semester grades, although I had the help of an excellent young teacher with whom I co-taught in two of those classes.  I should say that I was the assistant in those classes because Ms. Brown was in complete control and had the unconditional respect of all of the students in those two groups.  That made things much easier for me as the new person stepping in.
    I preface this chapter with these comments only to say that by all accounts I had a successful time at WAE - in spite of the the fact that my ATR supervisor, Ms. Annelisse Falzone, observed a highly effective class and rated it “unsatisfactory,” which I address in other chapters.  The students did a lot of work for me and expressed their desire that I remain with them until their regular teacher returns in March.  That, of course, is the most gratifying feeling a teacher can have, especially a temporary ATR replacement cog, which is how the ATR experience makes you feel.
    Initially the maternity leave was set to end on Feb. 2.  It was subsequently extended to March 10.  I was under the impression that I would be on duty for the full extent of the maternity leave, whatever that might be - if, that is, I was performing in a manner acceptable to the administration.  Dr. Crocker sat in on the disciplinary meeting that I had with my ATR supervisor but Dr. Crocker is her own person.  She saw that the relationship that I have with Ms. Falzone does not reflect my abilities and performance as a teacher.
    Thus when she expressed the desire to keep me on until the return of her regular teacher, I believe that she was sincere.  When she said that she emailed the ATR juggernaut to request that I stay on into March, I believe that she did.  I know that she got positive feedback from both staff and students about my performance in her school.  I know that the students do not want me to leave.
    Nevertheless the ATR system insists that a maternity leave is a six week gig and that my six weeks are up and so it’s time for me to go back into the rotation.  Thus I got an email yesterday (Jan. 29, 2015), the usual weekly email, sending me to a new location for Monday, Feb. 2, 2015.  I would just put it this way:
    I want to stay at WAE.
    The principal wants me to stay at WAE.
    The students want me to stay at WAE.
    QUESTION: What are the priorities of this ATR monster?
    ANSWER: Clearly not the interest of the students, the school or the teacher.
    So in keeping with the whimsical nature of this “memoir,” let’s dream up a little conversation between between me and some ATR bureaucrat.  I'll shorten the word "bureaucrat" to its last three letters - just for the sake of convenience, of course.

Me:    So, how you doin’?
RAT:    What do you mean?
Me:    I mean, how are you doing?  Sure, it’s rhetorical but you’re supposed to understand that and answer in a rhetorically appropriate way. You know, something like, “Okay, how ‘bout you?”
RAT:    What are you talking about?
Me:    I’m talking about the nature of language.
RAT:    The what?
Me:    You know, that brilliant, imaginative way we have of communicating with one another, that incredible, completely abstract way of making sense out of the concrete universe.
RAT:    Oh, I see.  But why are you here?
Me:    For kicks.
RAT:    Huh?
Me:    Because I have nothing better to do that interact with morons.
RAT:    Are you talking about your assignment?
Me:    I’m talking about you.
RAT:    What about me?
Me:    Never mind.  Here’s why I’m here.
RAT:    Okay.
Me:    I want to know what your priorities are.
RAT:    My what?
Me:    Priorities.  It was on the vocabulary list I gave to my sophomores.
RAT:    What about them?
Me:    What are they?
RAT:    Well, we are here to ensure that every excessed teacher is following the mandates that we send out each week ….
Me:    The mandates?  What are those?
RAT:    Huh?
Me:    You just used the word “mandate.”  What is that?
RAT:    It’s what it says here on the paper.
Me:    Let me ask you this.  If the square block fits into the square hole, where do you place it?
RAT:    Place what?
Me:    The square block
RAT:    What square block?
Me:    The one I just gave you in a hypothetical.
RAT:    A what?
Me:    Sorry.  I forgot.  Let me put it this way.  Tell me something you like.
RAT:    Well ….
Me:    Something you really, really like.
RAT:    You mean, something I like?
Me:    No, something you really like.
RAT:    I like ice cream.
Me:    Okay.  Now, if you like ice cream, doesn’t it make sense that you should have ice cream once in a while?
RAT:    Sure.
Me:    So there are things that make sense?
RAT:    I guess.
Me:    I was beginning to wonder about that myself.
RAT:    About what?
Me:    Never mind.  So about these weekly emails.
RAT:    What about them?
Me:    Do I have to go where you tell me to go?
RAT:    Yes.
Me:    But if a principal wants me ….
RAT:    What do you mean?
Me:    I mean, if a principal has a need for me and wants me to work for her ….
RAT:    I don’t think that ever happens.
Me:    It happens.  If the principal and the students want a particular ATR …
RAT:    There are no particular ATRs.
Me:    There are from my point of view.
RAT:    You have no point of view.  Your point of view is our point of view.  It says right here ....
Me:    If a school wants to keep an ATR….
RAT:    It’s against the rules.
Me:    So the rules are all that count?
RAT:    A rule is a rule.
Me:    Is a rule.
RAT:    Huh?
Me:    A rule isn't a rule.  A rule is a rule is a rule.
RAT:    No, a rule is a rule.
Me:    Ever heard of Shakespeare?
RAT:    Who?
Me:    A bureaucrat by any other name ....

    I could go on.
    The next time you hear a politician or an an employee of the DOE mouth the words, “It’s all about the kids,” think of this:  ATR transposed just slightly is ...  you get the idea.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chap. 65: TWERC: A New Teacher Evaluation System

Chapter 65: TWERC: A New Teacher Evaluation System

You can lead a politician to a check, but can you make him cash it?

Riddle:     If an apple a day (from the teacher's pet) keeps the teacher away, how big a check does it take to keep a politician off your back?

    Question to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: If a businessman offers a bribe to a politician and the politicaian doesn’t take it, should the businessman be rated “ineffective” for not having the correct strategies, Danielson rubrics and learning objectives in place to ensure the acceptance of his offering?
    I ask this question in light of the governor’s recent comments on teacher evaluations as reported in the Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 edition of the New York Post on "Postscript" page 25:

     “They’re baloney.  How can 38% of students be ready and 98% of the teachers rated effective?  The problem is clear.  We need real, fair, accurate teacher evaluations."

    Statistics for the number of bribes offered to politicians and the number accepted, of course, are sketchy so I’ll just sketch in some numbers for the sake of discussion.  How can only 38% of political bribes be accepted yet 98% of politicians be reelected in a state known for its pay to play governing process?  The answer is simple.  You can hand the check to the politician but you can’t make him cash it.
    Gov. Cuomo may be the most powerful man in the state, but his comments on teacher evaluations reveal that he knows as little about real education as he would like us to believe that he knew about Sheldon Silver’s under the table compensation - the same ignorance that caused him to shut down the Moreland Commission after campaigning on the promise to uproot corrupt colleagues.  Maybe someone ought to double-check the governor’s math - someone proficient in that area, of course, and someone other than his personal tax attorney.  Like Silver's, Gov. Cuomo's grasp of the basics in arithmetic seems to owe more to brown paper bags and mattresses than to math text books.  Maybe it's his version of the "new" math.
    According to the Wed., Aug. 7, 2013 edition of the on line New York Daily News:

       Only 31% of New York State students in grades 3 to 8 passed the 2013 math and reading tests, down from 55% in English and 65% in math in 2012 on easier tests.

    This is an even lower percentage than that quoted by the governor.  Furthermore, according to that Daily News article:

       Just under 30% of New York City students met state math standards and 26% passed the new reading exams — a drop of about half from last year’s scores.

    The numbers are even more troubling for minority students (same Daily News article):

     Citywide, only 16% of black students were rated proficient in English, and 15% passed in math. Hispanic students showed similar results, with 16% meeting standards in English and 19% passing math.

    The governor’s comments imply that if only 38% of students are “ready,” then it can be inferred that only 38% of teachers are “effective.”  Presumably by “ready” the governor means “career and college ready,” the latest lingo from the school reformers.  Maybe Mr. Cuomo’s aides didn’t effectively drill the full academic language into him.  I wonder in exactly which of the Danielson domains are his aides merely “developing” or even, God forbid! - “ineffective.”  Clearly their MOGL - “measure of governor learning” - needs to be improved.

    So let’s take the governor’s logic to the limit with the following chart, which could be adopted by the reformers for future use when teacher evaluations are based 100% on student performance.  Certainly that is the goal.  Gov. Cuomo himself has called for the evaluations to be based 50% on student performance or “MOSL” (measure of student learning) right now.  Obviously 100% is the ultimate goal.  Then every evaluation of every teacher will be 100% low inference, objective and data driven and based on the performance of someone other than the person being evaluated.
    Since the governor’s comments suggest that a 38% student “readiness” rating should result in a 38% teacher effectiveness rating, I propose the following as a new way for evaluating teachers based on this logic.

Proposed Teacher Evaluation Chart: School Based

Step ONE: TWERC the Data

% of African                         % of Teachers
American                              Effective
Students Proficient               in ELA
in ELA

0                                            0
10                                         10
37.5                                      37.5
42.213                                  42.213
100                                       100

    The calculation is fairly straightforward as you can see.  By setting the TWERC (translucently wrangled effectiveness rating constant) at 1, you simply apply the algorithm.  Multiply the percent of proficient students by the TWERC (one) and you come up with the percentage of effective teachers for that group of students.  What could be more straightforward?
    The complications arise when there is a number that is neither 0 nor 100.  In the former case, all teachers would be rated “ineffective;” in the later all teachers would be rated “effective.”
    But if, for example, only 42.213% of African American students are “proficient” in ELA, exactly which 42.213% of the ELA teachers does a principal deem “effective?”  This is a smidgeon under half of the ELA teachers on the staff.  If there are 5 teachers, the numbers are fairly easy to crunch.  Rate 2 of the 5 “effective” - never mind which two - that will be determined in Step TWO of the evaluation process
     Five ELA teachers on staff is easy.  However, if there are 3, 4 or 17 ELA teachers on the staff, the numbers become a little more dicey.

    Now, let’s see if the theory and algorithm work for Hispanic students and teachers.

% of Hispanic                       % of Teachers
Students Proficient                Effective
in ELA                                  in ELA

0                                            0
10                                         10
37.5                                      37.5
42.213                                  42.213
100                                       100

    Luckily, applying the TWERC, we see that the algorithm lends itself equally well to Hispanic students as it does to African American students.
    Lest we jump to conclusions, however, let’s do one final test for confirmation.  Let’s see if the algorithm works when applied to Caucasian students and teachers.

% of Caucasian                     % of Teachers
Students Proficient                Effective
in ELA                                  in ELA

0                                            0
10                                         10
37.5                                      37.5
42.213                                  42.213
100                                       100

    Happily we can report that the algorithm appears to work across racial and ethnic barriers, as any objective, unbiased educational tool ought to do.  Thus we can state the final formula thusly:

% of All                               % of Teachers
Students Proficient               Effective
in ELA                                  in ELA

0                                            0
10                                         10
37.5                                      37.5
42.213                                  42.213
100                                       100

     We can say most assuredly that the TWERC works!  We can thank Governor Cuomo for his advanced reasoning, which was the inspiration for the TWERC, the sole criterion for which was that it be a rational number based on the Governor's irrational logic.  (See Appendix below for the complicated formula used to arrive at the TWERC.)

    Now that we’ve taken care of Step ONE, the data, we come to Step TWO of this proposed new teacher evaluation system: the LOT.


     Say for example, as in case number four above, a principal can only deem 42.213% of the ELA teachers on his/her staff “effective” based on the objective data and Governor Cuomo’s reasoning.  Which 42.213% of the staff, then, will be rated “effective” and which 57.787% of the staff will be rated less than “effective?”  At a glance, this might appear to be an insurmountable obstacle, given that most or all of these teachers have contributed to the education of most or all of these students, not to mention teachers at previous elementary and middle schools, parents, relatives, friends, peers, television, movies, the internet, books, inspirational leaders, self reflection and motivation, and epiphanies, none of which is taken into consideration by the TWERC or the Governor's logic.  (TWERC2 is in development in association with Disney productions to account for previous teacher performances. ONE SQUARED appears to be an exponentially more useful constant than ONE.)
    However, at a second glance and remembering that objectivity is the guiding light in all education reform, we can, indeed, see the light, an objective way out of this merely illusive dilemma.  With objectivity as our sole criterion, we simply apply the LOT (Lottery of Teachers) to the problem and come up with an immediate and satisfying conclusion.
    Here’s how it works.  Say there are 6 ELA teachers on the staff and only 42:213% of them can be rated “effective.”  Very carefully toss all six names into a brown paper bag:

Smith, Jones, Brown, Green, Wilson, Johnson

    Shake up the bag.

Brown, Johnson, Smith, Wilson, Green, Jones

    Without peeking, pull out 2 names.

Brown, Johnson

    Rate these 2 teachers “effective” but only provisionally until Step THREE is completed.  Then, again without peeking, pull out three more names.

Smith, Wilson, Green

      Since no more than 2 of the 6 teachers can be rated “effective” according to the objective data and the Governor’s reasoning (because 3 of 6 would be 50% and the rule of thumb is to round down), these criteria will have been met by rating these teachers “developing.”  (After all, you can’t fire everyone at once.)
    Finally, pull out 1 more name.


    Rate this teacher “ineffective.”  Place him/her on probation immediately as proof that the principal is running a tight ship.

    Considering that it is impossible to determine the exact input any single teacher has in the exact learning of any single student, what could be more objective, non-inferential, and serendipitous?
     NOTE: I cannot take credit for the brilliance of the brown paper bag concept.  I must give due credit to Gov. Cuomo and Sheldon Silver for that, along with made men, gun dealers, lemonade stand vendors, gambling casino operators and people desperate to have certain marital problems go away.

Step THREE: Merit Pay

    Finally we come to the last part of this proposed teacher evaluation process: merit pay.  Education reformers are desperate to give money to people they think have done an outstanding job educating the nation’s children.  With this new completely objective, non-inferential and entirely accidental evaluation tool, determining which teacher is deserving of extra bucks is no problem at all.
    We’ve provisionally narrowed it down to two effective teachers based on the objective data and Governor Cuomo’s logic.  Both probably taught most or all of the students who were rated proficient.  Clearly neither did enough damage to those students to drop them from proficient to less than proficient regardless of what level those students were at when they began a given teacher’s course.  Possibly one of them even did enough good for some or many of those students to ensure that they came out “proficient” on their objective, unbiased, standardized ELA tests.  Now we determine precisely which teacher that was.

    Place both names into a brown paper bag.

Brown, Johnson

    Without peeking, reach in and pull out one name.


    And there you have it - an  unbiased, purely objective winning teacher!  Simply rate Brown “highly effective” and deserving of merit pay and Johnson merely “effective,” resulting in a supervisor competence ratio of 1 - 1- 3 - 1.  (See below.)  An added benefit of this efficient and objective method of teacher evaluation is that should it later be revealed that Brown is the son/daughter-in-law of one of the assistant principals, no blemish will appear on his/her record.  This new evaluation process is as fair and square as can be.

Step FOUR: PRICK  (adjusted to New York State standards)

    Finally as a bone to principals and supervisors, we have devised the PRICK system for this entire process.  The PRICK (“Precise Rendering of Instructional Capabilities and Knowledge”) ensures that principals are adhering to their mandates and quotas for rating as many teachers as possible either “developing” or “ineffective.”  Find a given principal's PRICK by awarding 100 points for each “ineffective” rating, 50 points for each “developing," 15 points for each “effective” rating, and 3 points for each “highly effective” rating.  Then simply add the numbers up and divide by the total number of teachers rated. The higher the score, the more competent the administrator.
    Thus, in the example discussed above, that principal would achieve the following PRICK:

Highly Effective    1    x 3        =    3
Effective                1    x 15      =    15
Developing            3    x 50      =    150
Ineffective              1    x 100    =    100

PRICK Score                                   268 / 6    =    44.66

    Even considering that this principal could not have achieved a perfect score of 100 since unfortunately, according to the data and Governor’s Cuomo’s logic, about 2 teachers had to be rated “effective,” a score of 44.66 falls, nevertheless, unimpressively into the low end of the “oppressor” category.  Remediation in debasing, devaluing, debunking and demoralizing will be provided.

PRICK Levels (New York State Supervisory Standards)

100           Fuhrer

80-99       Tyrant

67-79        Capo

53-66        Dictator

42-52        Oppressor

28-41        Kingpin

15-27         Strongman

1 - 14         Milksop

    However, by simply rating one of the 3 "developing" teachers "ineffective," this principal could have raised his PRICK by 9 points to a 53, which would have placed him/her into the more authoritarian "dictator" category and well on his/her way to "capo."
    Note that only under absolutely ideal conditions wherein 100% of students fail to achieve proficiency in every academic field can a principal achieve a perfect PRICK 100 and receive the highly coveted "Fuhrer" title by rating every single teacher "ineffective."

    Just as with trying to get a politician to cash that check, it’s a truism among teachers that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.  Teachers teaching thirsty horses will never have a problem.  Teachers teaching horses interested in something other than water will not fare so well no matter how many standards are quoted, what learning objectives are aimed at or how well delineated the lesson plan might be.

Answer to riddle:    Checks are all the same size.


Calculating the TWERC
The number of proficient students divided by the number of less than proficient students times the number of less than proficient students divided by the number of proficient students.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Chap. 84: ODD OD

Chapter 84: Faculty ODD

Disciplinary Meeting

Can the Danielson classroom management rubric be applied by supervisors to teachers?

I ask this question because I found myself in the position of putting my ATR supervisor into a Danielson bind.  According to the Danielson rubric for classroom management, the highly effective teacher need only glance at a misbehaving student for that student to straighten up and fly right.  I quote the Danielson Puppet for “highly effective” classroom management:

In addition to the characteristics of “Effective”:
·   Student behavior is entirely appropriate; no evidence of student misbehavior.
·   The teacher monitors student behavior without speaking – just moving about.
·   Students respectfully intervene as appropriate with classmates to ensure
compliance with standards of conduct.

As noted in chapter 31, of course, this ridiculous rubric doesn’t necessarily translate perfectly to intimate interactions between husband in wife.  (See The Charlotte Danielson Rubric for the Highly Effective Husband.)  Or maybe it does.  Hopefully the Danielson group will be doing some studies on the husband - wife interaction in the near future - double blind studies, of course.  I mean, there’s a reason why we close our eyes ….

But why wouldn’t the Danielson rubric translate within educational circles?  Why wouldn’t my ATR supervisor be held to the same standard that I am held to?  Why wouldn’t an educational supervisor be expected to perform in the same way that the people he/she is supervising are expected to perform?  Just because a student’s behavior is often beyond the control of the teacher, does it follow that a teacher’s behavior should be beyond the control of the supervisor?  Aren’t we all civilized, educated adults here?

Having been U rated in an ATR advisory coverage, it was going to take more than “just moving about”  or monitoring ATR behavior “without speaking” to get me to behave like a highly effective student, or like the highly effective student of the highly effective teacher.  The Danielson bind for my ATR supervisor was that I simply refused to comply with her “plan of assistance” no matter what she didn’t say or what sort of highly effective look she gave me.  What does the highly effective teacher do when a student simply refuses to do the work?  The highly effective teacher magically makes it happen even though by this same rubric such behavior doesn’t exist - “no evidence of student misbehavior.”

More than mere talk was required in order to correct my inappropriate behavior - I didn’t agree with the evaluation or the circumstances of the evaluation and refused to do my homework, i.e., submit lesson plans a week in advance - lengthy lesson plans that primarily assure that I would do as little teaching as possible so that the students could interact with one another as the focus of learning.  As one supervisor put it succinctly in one P.D., “Kids today are going to talk so we have to give them something to talk about.”   Listening is out of the question.  By the Danielson rubric, my ATR supervisor was already struggling to achieve “developing:”  “Teacher attempts to maintain order in the classroom but with uneven success; standards of conduct, if they exist, are not evident.”

I listened but didn’t like what I was hearing.  On Tues., Dec. 2, 2014 I received a notice that there would be a “disciplinary meeting” on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 at Women’s Academy of Excellence (WAE), which was my current ATR assignment.  The UFT chapter leader at WAE was notified that this meeting would take place.  He met with me the next morning to find out what this was all about.  In Danielson terms this might be considered the equivalent of the parent - teacher - counselor intervention, something the highly effective teacher, of course, never has to resort to.

This meeting took place as scheduled in the office of principal Dr. Crocker, who was present as a silent witness, a very good student.  UFT chapter leader Rick Steckmeister, who proved to be a highly effective (by any rubric) chapter leader, sat by my side as ATR field supervisor Annelisse Falzone recounted the numerous incidents in which I had refused to respond to her more highly evolved monitoring technique by telling her that her original observation was a crock and that in no way could it be considered a reasonable evaluation tool, certainly nothing on which to base an “unsatisfactory” observation.

I might digress here on the topic of “insubordination.”  Teachers use this weapon against students.  If a teacher instructs a student to do something three times and the student refuses to comply, that student is officially guilty of the offense of insubordination.  Disciplinary action can be taken.  When a student refuses to change his seat when instructed by the teacher, for example, and refuses a second and a third time, that student becomes insubordinate.  The teacher can then officially waste 20 minutes of class time to deal with the situation, which is likely to recur the next day.  That less than highly effective teacher has then lost 20 minutes of instruction that might have benefited the majority of students who never are insubordinate and are only there to learn.  Such defiant students are present, however, in every teacher's classroom from the ineffective to the highly effective.  The Danielson rubric is oblivious to this reality.

In 2012 when I was judged to be “unsatisfactory” in another observation by a supervisor who quoted nonexistent people in the room in her “evaluation” of my teaching, I begged the principal to accuse me of insubordination.  I refused at that time, too, to comply with various directives that resulted from that observation.  I begged my supervisor to charge me with insubordination.  I assumed that there would be some sort of hearing outside of the school in front of an “independent” arbitrator.  My exact words were:

If this is insubordination, Ms. Clarke, then I suggest that you charge me now with 5 counts, Monday through Friday, so that I can get a hearing on this subject beyond you and your principal, Mr. Hoxha.  Your incompetence at JLHS must be exposed….  ( See Chapter 36: Division by Zero in the middle.)

I was never charged with insubordination even though I had put it in writing.  Idealistically I hope that this meant that the principal realized that he would be embarrassed by his A.P.  Realistically I know that no one really gave a damn.

I again admitted to what I thought was insubordination at this ATR disciplinary meeting on Dec. 5, 2014.  I assumed that by refusing to comply with their “plan of assistance” many more than three times, I was being insubordinate to my ATR supervisor.  As I told my UFT representative, I hoped that I would be accused of insubordination because I don’t believe that anyone in their right mind would agree that an observation of an ELA ATR in a coverage of an advisory class when most of the students were on a class trip is meaningful.  On the other hand I knew I was dealing with the NYC DOE.  But this put Steckmeister in a sticky position given that it is the UFT chapter leader’s role to keep teacher’s out of trouble while I was trying to get into more trouble.

My ATR supervisor recounted everything that I had refused to do as well as the somewhat acrimonious interactions between us that had already occurred and I didn’t disagree.  She recounted our relationship since that fateful day at restorative justice haven Mott Hall Bronx accurately.  Thus I was hopeful that a charge of insubordination was forthcoming.

Unfortunately, all I got out of it was the charge that I was “out of compliance” with my “plan of assistance.”  That doesn’t have the same ring to it.  “Insubordination” carries some weight.  “Out of compliance” sounds more like the dog ate my homework.

Perhaps my ATR supervisor was giving me the benefit of the doubt, given that she had seen a good lesson in that advisory coverage and given that by this date, Dec. 5, 2012, she had observed a good lesson at my new assignment school on Dec. 1.  At least I thought it was a good lesson, if not “highly” effective, at least effective.  But that was merely an informal observation.  It was an observation of my teaching in a real ELA class with students that I had by that time taught for two days and it was a lesson that ought to have been rated very highly.  But I got nothing about this lesson.  Instead, all I got was feedback based on the advisory coverage observation - more student interaction and better closure.

In any case I was disappointed in my ATR supervisor at this meeting.  She didn’t charge me with insubordination but when questioned by Mr. Steckmeister, she admitted that a letter would be introduced to my file.  My file by now may require its own file cabinet drawer.  Mr. Steckmesiter pursued this line of inquiry.  Ms. Falzone didn’t say what the letter would state but said again that I was “out of compliance” with my plan of assistance.  At this Mr. Steckmeister wisely asked what that actually meant?  Could I still receive at the end of the year an “S” rating if further observations were satisfactory?

My ATR supervisor said that that was a possibility.  My UFT rep then asked for further clarification on what exactly “out of compliance” meant.  My ATR supervisor then said that she had seen cases in which teachers had submitted letters that stated that they refused the assistance offered by the “plan of assistance.”  This was new to both me and my union rep.  Was this true or just a ruse to get me to put my insubordination into writing?  Since I had begged to be charged with insubordination in the past and was now looking to be charged with it again, this admission looked like gold.

Steckmeister brilliantly pursued this line of inquiry but, of course, as my union protector, his job was to keep me out of trouble.  He asked if I could still be rated “S” at the end of the year even if I gave her a letter stating that I was refusing her assistance.  "Yes" was the answer.  That could still happen.  At least, that was the theoretical possibility.  I could still be rated a satisfactory teacher even if I put in writing that I was guilty either of insubordination or being “out of compliance” with directives.

With this the meeting was adjourned.  I left with the suggestion from my ATR supervisor that I had the option of refusing the “plan of assistance” in writing.  Steckmeister too, was of the opinion that my supervisor had made a suggestion that was to my benefit - if it wasn’t purely some sort of confession.  Since I didn’t mind confessing to being insubordinate, I was leaning toward the idea of refusing “assistance” in writing since I’d been refusing it without putting it in writing all along.  Why not just put it on the record?

That was my disciplinary ATR meeting.  I was disappointed in not being charged outright with insubordination but happy to hear that I could put my insubordination on record in writing.  That was clearly the best course of action.

When I started teaching in the Bronx, I had doubts that there really was such a thing as ODD - oppositional defiance disorder.  That sounded to me like just another fake mental disorder created by psychiatric interests looking for more business.  A year or two of teaching in the Bronx, of course, taught me that this disorder is for real.  For real!  Maybe you’ve got to see it to believe it but when you watch enough teenagers refuse to do the simplest things and refusing to do them with streams of obscenities that come as naturally to them as spit to a spittoon and a complete disregard to whom they streaming, you become convinced that ODD does, indeed, exist and that it would be nice if there were some real treatment for it - that is, until one of your best ODD kids curses out an administrator for sticking their nose into something that is none of their business.  Then it becomes nothing short of justice pure and as simple as an "Equalizer" movie.

Never did I imagine in those days, however, that I might become the educator equivalent of the ODD student.  But I was not yet familiar with the workings of the DOE.  Nor had modern educational reform kicked in.  In the era of modern educational reform, does a real educator have any choice but to become clinically ODD?

Neither did I imagine that the burden of responsibility for a student’s performance would be shifted from the student to the teacher.  Once upon a time the teacher was responsible for teaching and the student responsible for learning.  This is no longer the case.  The teacher is now responsible for both the teaching and the learning while the student is responsible for nothing at all.

I predict that the number of ODD teachers is on the rise.

As for the Danielson rubric applied to administrators … fat chance.