The D.o.E. approved a fourth option which promises to greatly ease the observation load for APs this year (as the CSA, or Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, would have it). Since it amends our teacher contract, the UFT had to approve it--which naturally makes me wonder why the UFT could not have pushed for something like this in the original contract. Just how bare is the cupboard when the UFT comes to the table? Or, could it be that leadership is out of touch with the sentiments of its rank and file? At any rate, this fourth option, only applying to teachers rated effective for the 2013-2014 year, seems to have the potential to reduce some teacher as well as AP stress. Yet, no one seems to know much about it, excepting the fact that it exists. Any wrinkles are probably still being worked out as we speak. I had that sense with the observation system last year as well (witness the introduction of "outside evidence").
We do know the option involves four informal observations though. I suppose it merits further analysis, but unless you feel your boss is out to get you or you are out to get your boss, it seems you'd be a fool to prefer the option of six informal (Option Two) over the new option of four informal observations.
Option One, the option of one formal and three informal, still remains. I choose this option last year. I could tell you that I write lessons with a beginning, middle and end, and it seems absurd to burst in upon part of it and try to evaluate the entirety (and I really do feel this way), but to tell you the truth, I rolled the dice last September with a little help from an old friend, an odd number for Option One and an even number for Option Two. Fate took its course and I was pleased with the results. Now, if only effective teachers, who seem to be the vast majority of us (with near 700 ineffective and 4800 developing), could be given the option of one formal plus one informal as equal to the new scaled down Option Four. But, alas, it was not meant to be--yet.
Then, of course, there is the special option for the highly effective teachers, Option Three. It includes three informal observations and three instances of "intervisitation" with colleagues. I met a highly effective teacher the other day from another department in my school. I was glad to find these people actually do exist and understand why and how. It seems his AP was not adverse to dealing out a MOTP of 60. I congratulated him on being perfect.
Given student test scores, if teachers did not get a MOTP around 59 or 60 at my school, it would be impossible to get a highly effective rating. Some teachers invited in the AP for all observations. Some were miffed they fell a point short of highly effective. And, others like myself chose the formal and trusted the informals to fate. I was pleased to have my AP wander in during a lesson on Samurai. That's pretty much the spirit I've been trying to keep these days, leaving aside the seppuku, of course, for adverse ratings.
In our department, I'm guessing that if any teachers were rated highly effective, they received it for taking on a load of administrative duties by running a school program, rather than for teaching prowess above and beyond all colleagues. If that's what highly effective means, I'll traditionally teach, save any extra time largely for my family at home and settle for effective. When it comes right down to it, if there is a Greatest Rater of Them All, I'd be pleased to explain myself in a life-end conference.