My Experience With Irene:Catastrophic::Most Classroom Observations:Effective
Disclaimer: To those of you readers out there who suffered through a terrible weekend, I hope you and your families are now safe, drying out and cleaning up. The images I saw of the storm as it hit the Southern portions of the East Coast looked awful. Up in Mimi country, however, the storm turned out to be one big waste of a weekend.
The coverage of “Hurricane” Irene was brilliant. I mean, they had dramatic introductory graphics prior to each broadcast. I found myself glued to the screen as wind tunnels crisscrossed before my eyes and waves crashed into a giant red sign announcing the arrival of Irene. Ominous music played as broadcasters went live to their colleagues who clearly drew the short straw and were made to stand outside and think of forty different ways to say, “Yup, it’s raining and windy.”
Because I am a teacher, we were prepared at Chez Mimi. We’re talking patio furniture moved to the garage, candles at the ready, batteries newly purchased, flashlights in convenient locations, coolers filled with ice, non-perishable goods (read: piles of carbohydrates that I normally keep away from), and more cat food and diapers than you can shake a stick at. We were all, “Irene, get your storm on!” And for what? Hour after hour after hour, we watched weather maps colored with fifteen different paths that Irene might take. Fifteen? Yes, Mini Mimi could have literally drawn them with a crayon herself and called herself a meteorologist. They were that accurate. I say that because the consensus of those fifteen potential paths all converged on Mimi Country and yet I found myself repeatedly asking, “Was that it? Has it hit yet?”
By Sunday midday, the sun had come out, there was virtually no sign that it had rained at all and we went for a walk. Again, for those of you that are currently cleaning up and surviving without power (or worse), I’m sorry. I know we are the lucky ones.
As I waited for something that looked like more than a passing shower, I had a strange feeling of deja vu. Why, this was almost exactly like waiting around for The Weave to conduct my formal observation for the year! The parallels were uncanny! Observations were always proceeded by several
hormonal unnecessarily bitchy assertive emails that announced their arrival and what one had to do in preparation for The Big Event. Then there was the actual preparation. Oh, the preparations! Instead of waiting in endless lines at various grocery stores buying food I normally wouldn’t but was told to, I would spend hours crafting a lesson plan that fit into The Weave’s narrow vision of what she wanted to see that day. Just like I wasn’t shopping from my authentic, usual grocery list, my annual formal classroom observation demonstrated very little of my normal interaction with my little friends. Rather, it represented my ability conform to whatever buzzword bullshit was hot in education that The Weave had latched on to and decided was the only way to determine if I was effective or not.
Then there was the waiting. The waiting always feels the same. And I’m so not good at it. We would schedule a date and nothing. I would re-write the lesson, schedule a new date and nothing. New date. More nothing. Until one day she would just show up, look through my work folders rather than watch me actually teach and then write up some mystical version of what she thought she saw complete with little to no constructive feedback. Ah, yes, the accountability was impressive, my friends.
So while I think that basing teachers’ ratings on the tests students take is ridiculous, I am very well aware that our current system is flawed. Kind of like those weather maps.