Coffee with the Superintendent - Part 1

(Actually I'm one of those Seattle freaks who doesn't drink coffee. Tea drinkers unite!)

It was a little funny. I called Jane Addams at 8 to find out what time the coffee chat truly was. I was told she was running late but on her way. I got there at 8:30 and she still wasn't there. She came in about 5 minutes there. There was her intern, Bernardo Ruiz from Family Engagement and my favorite translator (whose name I always forget but he has a wonderful smile).

In the end there were about 25 parents (I think people were confused on the time as people wandered in all during the coffee - we told her intern that this was not good). She said a number of very interesting things and I have to wonder if I heard correctly (so if you attended, help me out).

So she started off thanking us for coming and briefly touched upon continuing Strategic Work on curriculum alignment (don't call it standardization!), school reports (which I think confused people, some thought she mean teacher evaluations), the teacher contract and PGE (professional growth and evaluation). She referenced a state law that requires a 4-tier evaluation for both principals and teachers. (I don't know what she's referencing; anyone?)

Questions and Answers

Q: Will teacher evaluations be published?
A: No but you might be able to see the form at some point.

Q: What about knowing who mentor and master teachers are?
A: I presume that teachers can share this info if they want but it won't be gathered and published. (A good follow-up might be: will there be a master/mentor teacher at every single school?)

Q: What is the process that parents must use to get rid of a bad teacher (this is someone else's wording, not mine)?
A: talk directly with the teacher about the issue. If that doesn't resolve it, go to the principal. If you report the teacher, the principal has to follow-up. After he/she does, then the principal uses professional judgment about whether it needs to continue on the process. (Tricky here because you might need more than one parent's complaint to get traction and/or what if you don't have a very pro-active principal?)

Q: A poor teacher was exited from Eckstein. What happens to those teachers?
A: Under the old system the teachers were not observed. The state law has due process and timelines. Tenure keeps them in the class. She said under the new system there is due diligence on the principal doing an observation but a teacher can receive an action plan by mid-year and be exited within a year (I do not know if she meant the end of the school year when the process started or the next school year.) I'm not sure I think she answered the question. I think the answer depends on how serious it is. Some teachers may be passed off to other schools and some may be exited from our district. Again, someone ask her this specifically sometime.

Q: (The Superintendent used the words "seniority" and "tenure" on the previous question.) This question was about seniority versus tenure. The parent pointed out they weren't the same thing and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson asked her what she meant.
A: It was somewhat awkward because well, they aren't the same thing. Dr. G-J said she uses them interchangeably. The parent explained the difference but somehow it got lost on the Super so she moved on.

Q: Someone asked about over-busy principals, meaning how would they fit teacher observations into their day along with everything else they do (including lunch monitor and bus monitor)?
A: They observe at day and write up observations at night. (And we wonder why the principals haven't signed a contract yet.) The parent said maybe parents could volunteer so principals won't have to do the lunchroom and bus duties and Dr. G-J agree that is a good idea.

One parent spoke out for the great new principal at Wedgwood.

Q: Can principal tell parents when a teacher is under review?
A: There are reassurances it is happening but the principal can't give any timelines.

Q: What about extra support for teachers who are not doing well?
A: Multiple strategies with STAR teachers assigned to 1st year teachers, consulting teachers and 4-Star teachers (no, I don't know the differences. Teachers?)

Q: Can we get a flowchart of what happens and when if a teacher is under review?
A: Yes, we are committed to working with the SEA to collaborate on this and have them available.

Then, we moved on to the NSAP. Interesting stuff. See next post.


wsnorth said…
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Anonymous said…
exiting teachers can be done within a year. unfortunately the process is extensive yet arbitrary. It's not clearly defined what the teacher needs to do, and may be heavily dictated by the principal. The evaluation of the process is heavily influenced by the principal as well, with little reliable oversight as to reasonableness of process or fairness of evaluation. I'd be interested to see what is presented as the process by the district, it's not surprising they don't have one they could present yet.

signed: stay on the principal's good side
I would think what the teacher needs to do would be outlined in the contract. It isn't?
Sahila said…
Melissa - it is... and teachers can be removed in as little as three months...

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