Thursday, August 14, 2008

A penchant for comparisons might have been withheld from me.

I was mistaken; the sexual harassment meeting is tomorrow.

Instead I attended two meetings that were reminiscent of the one discussed here, which was generally recognized (and frowned upon) as tracking by the commenters.

In the first, we (the K teachers) read out our kids' names, one by one, and the pre-K teachers who had those kids would call out a few lines encapsulating their general impression from the year. "A sweet kid." "Very needy." "Super bright, but needs to be pushed." "She needs to be told she's not in charge." "High-maintenance parents." "A bit behind academically, but eager to please." That sort of thing. The second meeting was much the same, except that the first grade team read out their kids' names and the K teachers called out their own assessments. The grade taking in the kids took notes.

I suppose it's a helpful process, but there really was a lot of pigeonholing going on. The teachers didn't frame their descriptions in terms of specific events (such as "last year he cried a lot"), but generally phrased them in the present tense and in such a way as to tar the student with that particular brush: "he's a crier."

Frankly, if we must have such meetings, I'd like for the language to be a lot more curtailed, so that teachers are stating just observable facts instead of making proclamations about what the next year's team should expect. And then we can take notes and file those notes away and not look at them again until the end of the year. And then we'll see whether the notes match what actually happened.

I'm not saying it wasn't an interesting session, or even that I didn't come away from it feeling a bit more prepared for my kids. (For example, Ms. C telling me that a certain girl is a great kid, but needs to feel comforted and safe, led to me making a mental note to make sure that girl understands that my room is a welcoming, safe place.) However, it does go against all the data from studies about high expectations. Statistically, if a teacher is told that a low-performing student is a high-performing student, that kid rises to the level of expectation.

Is it better just to go in blind, each kid a blank slate? Don't know. If I knew everything, I'd be able to afford a nice house.

1 comment:

Millie said...

The fact that you are even questioning the situation means that you are doing alright. You can consider what was said but you will no doubt form your own opinion.

I am feeling much better and hope that you are doing well too.