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Monday, May 4, 2015

Harmony Happenings

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I took a few days off from writing the Happenings so I could spend time with family and friends. Hope everyone had a great holiday and are looking forward to making this a great year.

It is Wednesday morning as I am writing. There is no snow on the ground. It is a very good thing. Last month saw just too much white.

The Roach family is planning to go to Mario's tonight. Niece Erin Taylor is home from Florida and wants to go to her favorite restaurant. We had planned to go on Saturday, when she arrived, but Mario's closed for New Years.

Like many families, we have had many get-togethers over the last 2 weeks. Kathy Sanders entertained the Clarks with a taco party on Dec. 22. On Dec. 24, the Roach side went to John and Eva Kay's home.

John and Christine Clark fixed Christmas Day dinner. Family members stopped in to visit and eat at various times during the day. Friends and family were here for New Year's Eve and we had our Roach Christmas on Jan. 2, after Erin arrived on the first day of the year. Jan. 3, Brother John, John and Christine Clark helped me eat up the leftovers. Now it is time for more sensible menus.

It has been a busy schedule but it truly is a wondrous time of year and a wonderful life. It reminds us how very blessed we are to be surrounded by good people.

I hate to see all the pretty Christmas decorations put away. They light up the night so beautifully. Mine are still up until Erin leaves on the 6th. By then, it may snow and I will have an excuse to not get out and take them down until the spring thaw.

Soapbox: Governor Daniel's idea to rate teachers, and pay accordingly, may sound good on paper. Who does the rating? Who decides what makes a good teacher? Some body will have to make those decisions. It will probably be the superintendent or the principal.

In the 33 years that I taught, the superintendent was only in my classroom twice. Usually the principal did not enter my room except on years when I was up for evaluation (every seven years).

If an administrator entered your classroom, and stopped to talk, it usually meant there was a problem. I actually invited the bosses in on occasion so that they could see what the kids were doing when we had a special project.

Over all my years, I had 10-12 different principals and I've lost count of the number of superintendents. Some principlas were good, some were not so good. If they were doing their jobs, they were too busy to spend a great deal of time in the classrooms. Most did try to walk through the halls and sometimes pass through a few classes.

Usually, if there were no complaints, the administrators figured everything in the class was going as expected. They had hired the teachers to do their jobs and trusted that they were getting the job done.

Administrators have always had to evaluate staff. Most put it off until they had to get it done for some deadline. Other matters are usually more important (unless a teacher is having some kind of serious problem).

If two kids just got into a fight, the principal would deal with them rather than do a checklist on the abilities of the science teacher. As soon as that ended, the bathrooms were plugged and he/she had to call for help. Evaluations were low on the list.

If a principal has a poor teacher, it can take a great deal of his/her time working, evaluating, answering complaints about that teacher. Still, it is more effective to help a teacher to improve rather than just dismissing one. For most teachers, they became educators as a calling, not just a job. Most will go above and beyond the job. They want every kid to get a good education.

I don't think reward pay will make education any better. Reward pay is just a popularity program.

Mainly, the principals spend their time "putting out fires." They are supposed to be the problem solvers in the building. They handle the situations that can't be dealt with in the classroom of 20-30 kids. They are supposed to take care of all the stuff that happens between the community and the school: complaints, publicity, coordinating activities.

They attend endless meetings and do tons of paperwork. The public expects them to attend every event connected with the school. A good principal works a 15-hour day.

Under the current plan, administrators try to watch beginning teachers pretty closely and evaluate them every year until tenure. After tenure, the teacher is usually assessed on some rotating basis every few years. The system isn't perfect but neither is the reward system currently being proposed.

If the legislature adds the additional burden of constant evaluation of teachers, and determining who gets merit pay, they will leave no time for principals to be principals. I can't imagine the cost to have superintendents going to all the buildings to evaluate teachers.

Every administrator has favorites on the staff. The good ones try not to show it. It is natural to like some people more than others. Favorite does not mean good teacher, it just means likeable. Do you want the cute new blond teacher to get more money than the homely but effective math teacher?

Most schools have only one or two principals. Most principals taught only one-two subjects yet may be forced to evaluate all the subjects to determine who is doing a good job and deserves more pay. Who is going to teach them every subject to the degree that they can rate the teacher?

None of my principals could teach art. That is why they hired me. One openly opposed the state art curriculum. He liked art but did not like what the experts said we should teach. How would he have evaluated me doing my best to follow state guidelines?

If you give these administrators the added task of evaluating 20-50 or more staff people every year, there will be no time to do principal duties.

Do you hire more principals and superintendents or allow them to neglect their other duties? How do they decide who gets the better pay? No teacher is perfect but almost all have good points. For example: One teacher needs to improve in his/her subject matter but really inspires the kids to learn and seems to be learning with them. Another teacher is older, and has lost some energy, but knows everything about the subject and is an excellent resource for the younger teachers. Still another person is more coach than teacher but spends hours helping in all the after school programs.

Who gets rewarded? It will probably be the coach that people see after school. He/she is popular. In this scenario, it is the person doing the least in the classroom.

I like that the governor is looking at the education system but he needs to talk to more educators and less business people on this one. It seems the more we measure our schools, the less joy there is in education.

Happy Belated Birthday to Barbara Stanfield and Clayton Akers. My good friend Marilyn Hughbanks Smith would have been 63 this week. We all miss her very much.

Happy Upcoming Birthdays to Debbie Gottsche & Randy Bowman (12th), Joy Green (13th), Virginia Elliott (18th), Conor McCoy & Travis Jones (21st), Carolyn Kumpf & Jenifer Clark (24th), Me (28th), Eva Trout-Roach (29th), Rachel Fagg (30th), Sharene Wallenbrock, and Colleen Summerlot (31st). Happy Anniversary to Brother John and Eva Kay (14th), Kathy & Marvin Bell (17th) and Bill & Peggy Pell (31st).

Harmony United Methodist Calendar

January 9 -- Worship Service 9, Sunday School 10:30 AM

January 11 - Bowling at Brazilian Lanes 6:30 PM

January 12 -- Bible Study 9 AM, Quilting 10 AM to 3 PM

January 24 -- HUM Women 7:00 PM