Posts Tagged 'observations'

Is APPR a Public Health Hazard?

Is APPR a Public Health Hazard?

Even on a good day, our APPR system is heavily flawed. During a pandemic, it’s frankly a public health hazard. 

As all teachers who have worked in an NYC school anytime in the last decade knows well, lectures are out, and groupwork is in. Though we can debate the merits of forcing teachers to impose jarring ‘collaborative structures’ on their students (especially older students) on a daily basis, some amount of  student-student interaction is undoubtedly a good thing. But groupwork as envisioned by many of the APs writing our observations is almost impossible to do at a safe distance during an airborne pandemic. 

During the 2020-2021 school year, this problem presented itself, but with 6 feet of distance required between students, competent administrators had no choice but to be somewhat flexible with scoring. Enter the 2021-22 school year: New Action has received reports of teachers being mandated or ‘strongly encouraged’ to seat students facing each other in adjoined groups of four. Even with the DOE’s dubiously ‘generous’ interpretation of the CDC’s suspiciously halved ‘3 feet rule’, this sort of seating arrangement is a disaster waiting to happen. As teachers well know, students aren’t stationary. And groupwork in close quarters pushes students to get closer to each other for interaction.  Moreover, given that the DOE mandates students be facing away from each other when masks are off during meals, you’d think administrators wouldn’t de facto encourage the reverse. But with limited mask compliance, and with eating/drinking occurring throughout the day in most classrooms, this means that–realistically–some administrators are asking for precisely that.

Many students, a large fraction of whom are unvaccinated, are terrified of COVID. They don’t want to be put at further risk than they have to be. But, even when given this argument, administrators have reportedly doubled down on the packed group seating expectation. At least one school we know of that was pushing groupwork is currently under investigation to potentially close due to growing COVID-rates. An astute observer might think there’s a connection. Some New Action chapter leaders have pushed to get groupwork mandates thrown out. But the fact remains that our APPR system is written for a pre-pandemic era. Thus, even in schools with good union representation, teachers–especially probationary teachers–feel the carrot of higher scores on their observations and a better chance at tenure. Seat your students in densely packed groups and watch your MOTP scores soar from 1 or 2 to 3 or 4. 

Our current APPR system, at least as executed by some administrators, has therefore become a public health issue. Teachers shouldn’t have to choose between their observation scores and their students’ health. In districts like Los Angeles, where the union is strong, teachers don’t have to make that choice this year. Teachers in New York deserve the same. As part of its platform, United For Change–the coalition of caucuses (including New Action) running against Unity this year–supports dramatic reforms to both our observation system and our safety protocols. Remember to vote United for Change on your ballot in the next UFT election.

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For Appropriate Supervision

New Action introduced the following resolution at the April 18, 2016 UFT Executive Board. It was tabled to allow details to be reviewed and corrected. We expect a revised resolution to be brought forward at the May 9 Executive Board.

For Appropriate Supervision

April 18, 2016

Whereas both the Danielson Framework and Teaching for the 21st Century envision consistent conversations between teachers and supervisors; and

Whereas these conversations are informed by the content of the class and associated standards, by the curriculum being followed, by the students assigned to the class, by the pedagogical orientation of the school, and by the culture of the school; and

Whereas some supervisors have more knowledge of all or some of the content, standards, curriculum, students, school pedagogy and school culture than other supervisors; and

Whereas teachers should go through observation cycles with the leader of the school or the most appropriate supervisor available; and

Whereas there exists a class of supervisors – ATR Field Supervisors – who are disconnected from students, from content, from school-specific pedagogy, from school-specific culture and who thereby are unable to engage in the rich conversations envisioned both in the Danielson Framework and Teaching for the 21st Century; and

Whereas ATR Field Supervisors perform a function that others could more appropriately perform, and could be assigned instead to productive roles;

Therefore be it resolved that the United Federation of Teachers will convey to the Department of Education our concern that some teachers are being observed by other than the most appropriate supervisor, and be it further

Resolved that the United Federation of Teachers will immediately open discussions with the Department of Education to reassign administrators who are currently ATR Field Supervisors to appropriate assignments, and be it further

Resolved that the United Federation of Teachers will feature a series of New York Teacher and website articles on the appropriate role and function of supervisors in our school system.


Content Policy

Content of signed articles and comments represents the opinions of their authors. The views expressed in signed articles are not necessarily the views of New Action/UFT.
February 2023
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