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All posts for the month February, 2014

The Teacher Zone – Episode 1

Published February 20, 2014 by Vida Caramela

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You’re traveling through another dimension – a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a strange land whose boundaries are that of the U.S. Educational System. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Teacher Zone!

Picture with me if you will, one Mrs. D’Moralized, a modern-day educator, tasked with a host of duties required by her job.  She performs all of them with great efficiency. Her classroom runs like a well-oiled machine, students are meeting the standards, paperwork is submitted on time, parents are well informed; and Mrs. D. expects that her supervisor, Mrs. S. N. Fare will take notice.

Mrs. S. N. Fare ignores all of the visual evidence,  and without written documentation,  all of Mrs. D.’s hard work goes unrecognized. At the end of the school year, Mrs. D. is rated ineffective. The reason given, neglect of duty.

in the end the only duties that Mrs. D. truly neglected were the those to herself, and to her family.

This story is one with a sad little twist. The type that defies all logic and common sense. And it can be found here only —

in The Teacher Zone.

(Introduction was adapted from Rod Serling’s, The Twilight Zone, Season 2)

Authors Note: In 2013, NYC adopted a new teacher evaluation system called Advance, where 60% of the teachers rating is based on teacher performance (Teacher Practice), and 40% on student performance (Measures of Student Learning, MOSL). The 60% Teacher Practice rating is determined by the following: what the supervisor sees,  what the teacher submits as written evidence, and what the children write in the student survey (which counts for 5 of the 60 points).

Systems like this are being adopted all across the nation, and teachers are now facing a marked increase in the load of paperwork they must do in order to document their own performances. Often, personality conflicts, nepotism, agism, racism, bigotry, resentment, favoritism and other unrelated factors, blind supervisors and students to the true performance of the teacher. Coupled with the facts that student test scores do not always reflect a teachers performance,  and that teachers have not been given additional time to compile written evidence, this will most certainly result in some teachers receiving unfair ratings.

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On Being Special

Published February 9, 2014 by Vida Caramela

I wish all people could accept themselves, no matter how different they are from others.

I wish all people could accept others, no matter how different they are from themselves.

I wish all people could concentrate on self improvement instead of criticizing others.

I wish all people could love with their heads as well as their hearts.

I wish all people could focus on what unites us rather that focusing on the things that divide us.

I wish all people could honor the fact that everyone was born with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I wish all people could celebrate diversity instead of trying to stamp it out.

I wish all people could stop recycling and reusing intolerance, and just throw it out for good.

I wish all people could value justice and integrity more than they value wealth and power.

If all these wishes came true, would that take us one step closer to being the same, not very unique, or “special”? Or would it allow us more space for individuality?

If by nature we are already so unique in so many ways, couldn’t we choose to be the same in ways that make it easier for us to be special?