Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Trotting out the dogs and ponies....

We had some kind of  trial walk through the other AP walking around furiously scribbling about bulletin boards. 

I have a special hate for bulletin board critiques - stemming from an incident in which a  "Network Leader" ridiculed me and my  SPECIAL ED students- in front of them- so much that I hyperventilated and threw up.
It was April,poetry month and we made symmetrical paintings and couplets that described our artwork. I even ripped off a veteran teacher's idea about the couplets (with his permission) -  I didn't want to do one of those fill in the blank poems - and got reamed out about how my idea of academic rigor was a joke with only 2 lines and how the student's artwork was "juvenile." Of course the other couplet guy and the fill in the blank people got a pass.

I've since developed a thicker skin, a better sense of humor about these things but the BB Police thing still really puts a bee in my bonnet! So I was a bit amused  in a snarky way when I saw the AP wandering and checking out the bulletin boards.I had everything - appropriate work/rubrics / feedback etc. there were 2 things marked "N/A"  -next steps and visual appeal.
That puzzled me, so I asked "Visual appeal and next steps are not applicable?"
"They certainly are. I didn't see any evidence of those two factors on your bulletin board." 
"Oh." Pause. "Uh, I'm a little confused. What does N/ A stand for then?"
"Not applicable."
"Oh," Pause. " I thought 'not applicable' meant you were not applying that criteria this time around."
"By criteria do you mean the aforementioned factors that i stated were not in evidence at this time?" (I'm not kidding, this is what she said)
"Um, yes. But OK I get it! The terminology threw me. Sorry."
"Do you want to know I why I stated that the evidence in visual appeal and next steps was unapplicable in evidence?" (again, not kidding)
"Of course."
"There was no evidence of next steps in your feedback post it and it was not visually appealing." 
"I see. Well maybe you can help me, then. I wrote things like 'Let's keep working on your fine motor skills so your name is legible.' and 'Let's work on increasing the amount of work you do.' Those are things I think are next steps to increase the quality of their work. Were you looking for something else?"
"If you wrote that, i didn't read it because the next steps factor was not written as a criteria on the paper. I didn't see it applicable as evidence because I didn't know where to find it listed."
"Wait.... You want me to just label it?"
"If you had a rubric or a post it and included in the feedback you could write "feedback" where the feedback is and next steps with the next steps, then I could see it in evidence."
"Oh. Sure. I can do that."

I went and highlighted feedback comments in pink and next step comments in orange, and stapled up a little key by the bulletin board. "Thanks for adding on 'next steps' Ms. Rim" she called out at the end of the day, with a Top Gun thumbs up - like gesture. Didn't tackle the visual appeal there, that seemed a little  too subjective.

By the way, most of my students cannot hold a pencil properly, read, identify shapes or colors, etc. Clearly that post it is not for them. Increasing expectations for special ed students is not about this. It's "N/A"

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