I’m a firm believer that a person's actions always speak louder than their words. My principal’s actions were saying a whole lot! So, it was no surprise when I was called into his office and was told that that the Teacher Development Specialists said, “The teachers feel like if I don’t do something they don’t have to do it.” As I sat there I thought to myself, “You all give me too much credit!”
Needless to say, I immediately knew that I was in for a fight because one thing I knew about my principal was that he was vindictive and sends other people to do his dirty work.
The Novice Administrator
On our campus, it’s common knowledge that he would often use your evaluation as a way to render you powerless or to make you conform. In September our grade level decided that we needed to move our gifted and talented students and some high achievers into one class because they were controlling the pace of the classes. My principal was against this idea and tried to deter us from moving the students by putting a whole lot of restrictions on moving the students. Despite his attempts to stop us from doing this, we moved the students anyway. So, it was not surprising my assistant principal always used this newly formed class for my evaluation.
So They Say “I’m an Ineffective Teacher”
After my first evaluation, the dam broke loose! The assistant principal came down to my classroom to let me know that I was being put on a PPA. A PPA is a Prescriptive Plan of Assistance or a growth plan. As she was telling me all of her reasons for doing this I just sat there. While she was talking I was thinking, ” I guess she’s trying to tell me that I’m an ineffective teacher.”
After our conversation, I received an email with the PPA attached. If you have never been put on a growth plan your evaluator chooses the area of instruction that you need “help” in. My jaw dropped when I read that my area of improvement! I-1 -Facilitates organized, student-centered, objective-driven lessons. When I saw that I knew that this was intentional because since last year my principal had been trying to discredit my math content knowledge since last year.
The Invisible Power Struggle
For some unknown reason, my principal hired a Math Teacher Specialist who had only had 2 years of teaching experience. He knew that she has not taught any grade level higher than 3rd grade. All the teachers knew that he put her on a pedestal and were supposed to listen to her every word because she had 100% of her handpicked class to pass the 3rd-grade math standardized test. So, I knew that this move was his way of trying to discredit my 16 years of teaching experience and content knowledge.
Most experienced teachers would have filed a formal complaint but I decided not to for 3 reasons.
- I knew that I could beat him at his own game
- The complaint would have taken away my ability to focus on instruction
- I didn’t want to file a complaint against the assistant principal because I knew that the decision came from the principal
Not So Ineffective
In our state 5th grade is a promotional grade level, so the 5th-grade students take their standardized test in March. The test scores came back in April. We all knew that the scores were back. When they came back the math scores had improved by 15 points! You probably already know what happened to that PPA. Yep, you guessed it! At the end of the year, I went from being rated ineffective to effective. Hmmm…..imagine that!
I don’t view my success as a teacher on test scores because that’s 1 data point. I determine my success by how well my math students do in 6th-grade math in middle school. In the eyes of the school district, the test scores my sores showed that my students and I had a successful school year.
At the end of every school year, the teachers have a summative meeting with their evaluators to discuss their evaluation ratings. Before my summative, my principal and I had a long conversation with me returning to the school. The conversation was much needed and ended with him saying that if I couldn’t get on board then he asks that I find another campus. I’m a no-nonsense person who doesn’t wear their feelings on their sleeves. So I stood up, shook his hand, and said, “I respect that.” So often as he did during the school year, I let my actions speak louder than my words. I sent him an email that said I decided to transfer to another campus for the 2017-2018 school year.
To learn more about Michelle L.Williams click here!