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My evaluation form came in the mail today. Once again, in black and white, there is proof that Dr. Bitch has no idea what she is doing.
One section of the form is titled Understanding & Organizing Subject Matter Knowledge. When I read that, my understanding is that comments by the evaluator in this section should reflect my understanding of what I am teaching and the way I organize that information in order to present it to the students.
Let's see what she had to say here:
So. Totally. Amused. Does she honestly think that is what the evaluation is about? How neat my classroom is? If that were all I had to do, I'd be the best teacher in the school because I keep my classroom in order all the time. That's how I function. Not all teachers do, though. Teaching is as much about creativity as it is about subject matter knowledge.
I'm going to let you all in on a big secret here....teachers are not necessarily experts on the subject they teach. Think about it. Anything in Kindergarten through eighth grade really isn't all that detailed. An intelligent person can review a topic before teaching it and come off as an expert. In California, the requirements to teach in a public school classroom are a Bachelor's Degree and passing a comprehensive exam. There are more things you have to do to earn a clear credential, but those 2 things alone will get you an emergency credential and allow you to teach on a temporary contract or substitute. So, that means that in California, anyone walking into a classroom to teach has taken a series of general education courses and can read. Honestly, that's enough as far as the subject matter is concerned. I know that the people who support the whole NCLB thing will disagree with me, and that is fine. However, I'll let my students' success in science speak for itself. I was the furthest thing from an expert in science when I started teaching it 4 years ago. This year, my students (make that my non-native English speaking students who read at a 4th grade level) ended the year with an average of 65% on a comprehensive final exam. May not sound great to you, but in my district, that is a stellar performance!
So, it got me thinking about which quality is more important and makes a truly good teacher...being orderly or being imaginative.
The creativity is really more important. You have to figure out how to take this information and get it from your brain and the teacher's manual into the students' heads. That means that you have to get their attention, engage them in the lesson, and make it clear enough so that lightbulb comes on and they "get it." Being creative and being neat do not typically go hand-in-hand. If you had to describe a true artist, structured and methodical would probably not be high on the list of adjectives you'd choose. But see, teaching is an art. Well, good teaching is anyway. Seems to me that some of the best teachers I know have classrooms that look disorganized and chaotic. And, many of the very sterile-looking rooms belong to teachers who keep it that way because that is what they are good at...and not teaching.
After spending the last two years as campus techie, I've been in every classroom many times, and I've come to this conclusion:
Being messy does not equal being unprepared. Not necessarily. And being neat does not equal being well-planned. I know that to the untrained eye it would seem that way. And maybe in some jobs being highly organized will increase productivity. I can't say that holds true in teaching, though. There is a fine distinction.
I think I'm somewhat of an anomaly in the teaching profession. My stuff is very neat and organized. I can't function at work if I can't put my hands on any given item at a moment's notice. It makes me absolutely crazy if I can't find something because I never know when a teachable moment will pop up and I need to grab something that I hadn't planned to use. When the students are inspired, I want to be able to run with it. I only know a couple of other teachers who also work that way. I wouldn't describe my classroom as barren, though. I think this is where it is different from the classrooms of teachers who keep them clean because it is the only thing they can do to look competent. My classroom may be orderly, but it is also very busy. The walls are full of color and student work. Heck, I even have stuff hanging from the ceiling. My desktop is crammed full of stuff. It's just neat and organized stuff, but lots of it nonetheless.
To sum up, I guess I'm saying that once again I have proven that I am a complete freak. And that I think I am a great teacher.
Great, so that makes an egomaniacal freak I suppose.
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