The family’s back home safely (if you consider home to be in two widely spaced geographic locations), charged up with coffee, and back to work. Wife’s at school and my favorite guide is on a three-day trip on the River in the Canyon.
My first clue that this would be a good year was when the supe came in the door of the commons area of one of our high schools where he and the board were hosting the New Teachers’ Luncheon and introduction to us last Wednesday. He said, as we shook hands, “you’re going to like what I have to say.”
The luncheon included all the new teachers, and their principals and vice principals (33 schools). I sat at my old middle school’s newbie table, one of two for that school. The supe and the rest of the board got there after I did, and by that time the TOSAs (Teachers On Special Assignment, i.e., admin training) had created a “special” table for dignitaries, but I stayed with my home school newbies. They need to know what happens to teachers who retire and want to keep their oars in the water.
The supe was the featured speaker, and he is good. Short, to the point, but funny and comfortable. Based on what he said when he came in the door, I’m thinking, good, he’s going to emphasize exemplary instruction and talk about our district goals for the classroom.
Well, I was right about that, but he went on to give the new teachers a heads up that we are moving toward cleaning up secondary grading and he quoted a bunch of Ken O’Connor’s main points on good grading practices, while confessing that he himself had committed every grading atrocity known to teachers, but that if we were going to maximize our instructional effectiveness, we had to get grading and reporting under control.
This has been coming for a long time, and I was joyful. We are finally actively moving to fill in the missing piece from the research on student achievement
BTW, We’re not looking to duplicate elementary level rubric/anecdotal report cards, but rather make our As, Bs, and Cs reflective of actual student achievement relative to standards. Until higher education has more sophisticated achievement data processing capability, high schools are pretty much stuck with the alphabet (but we can sure make it more meaningful!).
The supe also let the newbies know that they would encounter policies in their school handbooks that are contrary to his grading suggestions. Then he said, “So buck the system!”
He totally galvanized the audience — literally. You could see new teachers startle in their seats, then laugh and applaud.
Monday, ETS/ATI grading conference info was distributed to the troops, so our district may break some ETS/ATI attendance records. We already have 20 spots reserved for secondary principals and VPs. Board members are making separate reservations so that they can get up to speed for the policy amendments they will need to make in the future so the newbies are no longer “bucking the system.”