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mrteacherguy mrteacherguy is offline
 
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Improvement Plan
Old 04-05-2019, 06:41 PM
 
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I am in my sixth year of teaching with my district (and my sixth year overall). I made the mistake of moving up with the students that I had last year from 6th to 7th grade, because it meant I could change subject areas from one I was burned out on to one that I wanted to teach again.


I say that I made a mistake in doing this, because this group of kids was a rough one last year, and are even worse this year (even the primary level teachers remember them not-too-fondly).


Some of the areas of teaching that I was already struggling with a little bit or doing okay in seem to be magnified with this group. To the point that the scores on my two observations this year mean that my administrators are putting me on an improvement plan where an academic coach or administrator will be working closely with me to supposedly try and fix these areas. If they aren't fixed within 45 days (which puts us in next year), they'll look at "next steps".



My administrators know that I've been struggling in certain areas, because I've been coming to them for assistance/guidance, and have let it known that I would appreciate extra help or coaching in the classroom. However, very little materialized from any of this, other than suggestions/advice for changes that I would like to implement but either don't know or don't have the tools to do.


I'll be the first to admit that I have a lot to learn and areas in which I can/should change, I just feel like they shouldn't have let it get to this point. I believe there's more than could or should have done to help earlier in the year when my first eval didn't go so well or after I'd come in multiple times for help.


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Old 04-05-2019, 07:48 PM
 
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What areas do you need to improve in? What suggestions were made that you do not have the tools for, or know how to do?
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Old 04-05-2019, 08:28 PM
 
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They've told me that I need to have the students do more of the work and not just following along as I and a few students participate. However, I've tried different ways/formats of "we do" or having students work on their own or with teams/partners. But ultimately it keeps coming down to the same battle: either they sit there and say"I don't get it" without trying and looking at my examples or I do most of the work and they copy it down.

It's an area that I've looked for guidance in, but no one has come by to observe/critique/help.

The other area is relationships with the students, something that is particularly difficult given that I already had most of this group last year. There are a handful of kids I get along well with, and a lot that don't like me or that I'm strict when it comes to expectations and rules.
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Old 04-05-2019, 09:49 PM
 
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Can you give an example of a lesson? E.g. what's the concept and how will the lesson be delivered?
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Example
Old 04-06-2019, 05:15 AM
 
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An example from a lesson earlier this week:


We have already covered how to find the area of a circle the previous day, and I reviewed it with the class at the beginning of the next day's lesson. I then presented them with a problem that I wanted them to try and work out (finding the area of four shaded circles in a square with a length of 5; two circles = one side of the square, so the diameter of each circle is 2.5). I expected the students to struggle with that part a little bit, but at least apply what we've learned (or should have learned) and try to solve it.


I then had a couple of students share what they did or how they tried to find it; in this class in particular most of them still had blank pieces of paper.


So we started addressing the questions that went along with the problem, breaking it down step by step. If we know the length of the square is 5, what is the diameter of each circle? If we know that the diameter is 2.5, what is the radius? How do we find the area for one circle? How do we use that to find the area for four circles?


At each point, we're looking back at the diagram, I'm referring them to look at what we do know to find the next piece, and at each step the response from the majority of the class is blank stares/off task chatter. When I call on students, most them respond with "I don't know" or whatever they heard the answer to the previous question was (If they heard me or a student say that we knew the length of the square was 5, the when I say that one of the circles is half of that, they'll still respond with "5"). Few, if any of them, are actively paying attention, let alone putting any effort into it.


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I can relate
Old 04-06-2019, 05:20 AM
 
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I don't really have any suggestions, but I can definitely relate. My observations this year have been not that good, and have left me feeling quite inadequate in my teaching abilities and confidence. I'm leaving my district and going somewhere else for next school.year, and I pray that I have better success. I hope you get a better group next year, and you can get off the improvement plan.
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Old 04-06-2019, 07:00 AM
 
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Hi. I was where you are now last year, and I am here to give you hope that you can have kids who are totally different and come out on the other side of this.

Our seventh grade teaching team had a nightmarish group last year. It was horrible, and we almost couldn't get through it. We couldn't get them to behave or do anything. My value-added score was a -9. It was that bad. But now I have a very good group, and things are so much better.

When I do exercises with the kids, I go around the room and make sure I call on each of them once. I have a few students who love to answer questions, so they answer 2-4 times in class, but everybody gets that one time to give an answer. Maybe that would help? I have also used popsicle sticks and tried to call on everyone.

It's hard when you have a class who won't give any info back to you.
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Lack of support is sad...
Old 04-06-2019, 07:29 AM
 
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It has to be frustrating when you have reached our as a relatively new teacher, and the administration has not responded all year except to score you low in areas you requested help with before and it was not forthcoming.

I would ask the administrators/coaches to model lessons for you. Watching your students with someone else is many times an eye-opener, and you might see strategies that work for them that could work for you. At the very least, you can see what they are looking for. And if they behave the same way for the coach or administrator that they do for you, it goes to show that many times it isn't us, it's them.

Sometimes, setting up stations where students could work alone or with a partner is motivating for students. At the very least, they get up and move around. Of course, you have to set the rules up and model multiple times One of the stations could be working with the teacher for those who do not have a growth mindset and/or are unmotivated. Or, the rest of the class could do stations while you work with the group that is the lowest or non-independent.

As for relationships, that's hard because sometimes, no matter how we try, the chemistry isn't there. My last class was very self-centered and it was difficult to build on conversations, They were a group that wasn't interested in connecting with me, so stories about my dog or places I went did not engage them. Sports did, so we talked a lot of baseball and football. Sometimes, making the effort to go to one of their events like a game or musical performance works wonders If nothing else, it is something you can document that you did if the relationship thing comes up again.

I hate these newer, standards-based evaluation systems that reduce us to a number. When my state went to it, it eliminated tenure, and before I retired, I worried that I would be rated ineffective by my new principal, a woman I never had a really positive relationship with. While it never happened, a d I am retired now, the stress is real.

Good luck to you and let us know how you are doing.
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Old 04-06-2019, 07:36 AM
 
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I wonder if Whole Brain Teaching methods would work with this bunch. Some classes really respond to the active participation part of it and it increases engagement.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q...46CB&FORM=VIRE
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Old 04-06-2019, 07:47 AM
 
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I'm thinking about how I would have reacted as a student, if you were trying to get them to figure out what half of 2.5 is.

One possibility is that it's too easy and my intelligence is being insulted. Divide by two to find the radius. Duh.

Another possibility is that they don't really understand fractions and decimals and although they know to divide by two, they can't easily do it.

And of course, the next step will be to square that 1.25--not all that simple. and then multiply by pi. Pain in the neck--unless they are using calculators.

So, In the instruction, I would choose easier numbers for the side of a square. 4 would be simple for them to do, or any multiple of 4.

Try using groups, stations, puzzles. Have you ever read the math=love blog? The author has lots of creative ideas. She teaches high school, but there might be things there to get you started. Good luck.


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Hard groups of kids come along....
Old 04-06-2019, 09:09 AM
 
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These groups help us build character, but can drain us if we are not really careful. You have worked there now 6 yrs, and now they want you on an improvement plan? I am saying this realistically ( not trying to sound mean) from my experience w/ schools and some admin: You made a mistake when you:
[My administrators know that I've been struggling in certain areas, because I've been coming to them for assistance/guidance, and have let it known that I would appreciate extra help or coaching in the classroom. However, very little materialized from any of this, other than suggestions/advice for changes that I would like to implement but either don't know or don't have the tools to do]

90% of the time admin knows less than you when it comes to teaching your class. It (imo) is best to not ask admin for help. This board can help you, but you would really benefit from finding a friend who teaches your level to help you...from another school. Does your district allow you to travel to other schools a few days a year to observe? If yes, you could maybe find a well thought of teacher of your subject, and spend some time getting ideas from that person. Maybe they could use their days to come to your school and help give you insight and tips. I am sorry you have such a tricky group. Summer is almost here.
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Old 04-06-2019, 10:16 AM
 
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They've told me that I need to have the students do more of the work and not just following along as I and a few students participate.
My dh is doing something this year with his classes that is working really well for his boys.

Instead of him going over homework for the beginning of class, each student is assigned a
problem from the homework to put on the whiteboard.

If they attempt it, they get 1 point.
If they get it wrong, they still get their 1 point.
If they get it correct, they get another point.
If they help a classmate solve a problem, they get another point.
If they refuse to try, they get 0 points.

At the end of the term, he compares each student against themselves (so Tommy had the ability to earn 25 points this term and he earned 20). He replaces their lowest test grade with that 80%.

It gets the boys out of their seats and working and puts their grade in their own hands. He can also spot check understanding. He only has a couple that refuse from time to time.
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Old 04-06-2019, 01:01 PM
 
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don't know if this will make a difference, but you may like something...

here are some activities i do with my class in math. (and yep, you'll always have the kids who think they'll get it just from watching you)

*i have a class set of little white boards/pens/erasers. i divide up our white boards on the walls so about 7 kids can work--everyone in the room does the same problem--i can see quickly who can do the work (out of the 7 up) and can help anyone who needs it--also encourage them to help each other. everyone at seats does same problem. then i swap out kids and new problem--after 4 problems i've seen everyone, but i keep going...

*i have kids do a problem on little white boards, and when i say "let's see them", they hold them up--no matter how far they got and i can see what everyone is doing. (it's good to have a "side activity"--next week's activity will be a long, tricky coordinate grid graphing that kids work on while slower workers are finishing)

*Scoot (i'll assume you know how to play this)--i often partner kids up so they can help each other and check each other's work. The last couple times we've played, i've put a copy of the problem on the back of the card along with the work and answer so they can immediately see if they're right and HOW to do problem. sometimes i give caveats like: if you don't understand my work, answer--come see me. if you get 2 problems wrong in a wrong, come see me.

*Level Up (i named it, but i stole part of the idea from someone online...don't recall her name for it...but there was a competition side to it that i don't even do...Race?) this requires some $ and extra organization time, but my students like it. (the number of problems on a page can differ depending on the skill and practice needed...) but let's just say i put 4 problems to a page and copy on one color (let's say yellow). kids are in groups of 4. the students work together to solve all 4 problems correctly--they bring to me. if they have the work done correctly they "Level Up" and get a prize (let's say pencil). then they get the next sheet (blue)...when they complete those (all kids have to have all the work and correct answer on paper), they Level Up (small candy), etc.... (Last time we played I had 3 sets of colors and each set had TWO sheets they had to work through--I called them A and B before they could level up.)

*Teams Tournament: kids in groups, problems on the projector, teams take turns--get a point if correct--if incorrect next team gets the same problem (everyone does the same problem "because you all need to master the skill and because you might end up with the problem even if it doesn't start wtih you" Winning team gets prizes (sometimes i'm nice and give 2nd place--sometimes everyone who participates gets a little candy)

*Roam the Room
give students worksheet of problems--assign different problems for kids to start at (so all aren't crowding around same problem). solve one problem--go find the problem on a wall around the room. (i'll take a piece of construction paper, fold it, put the # of problem on the front and the problem and answer and/or work inside.) this gives kids opportunity to get up and move around and get immediate feedback on their work.

*Lucky Buckets also got this from someone online. Take a worksheet, chop it up. place all #1's in front of a plastic tub, all the #'2.....students move from station to station solving problems and dropping their work in the tubs, bags, buckets...(i used little sacks from dollar store because i wanted several practice problems and i didn't have enough tubs). then i go through each tub and go over the problem and answer and pull 1 or 2 problems out--correct answers get prizes.

maybe something there will spark some ideas.
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Old 04-06-2019, 03:47 PM
 
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They've told me that I need to have the students do more of the work and not just following along as I and a few students participate. However, I've tried different ways/formats of "we do" or having students work on their own or with teams/partners. But ultimately it keeps coming down to the same battle: either they sit there and say"I don't get it" without trying and looking at my examples or I do most of the work and they copy it down.

Rather than asking someone else to come in and model lessons for you or give you ideas, I'd suggest video taping yourself teaching and watching it back to look for places you could improve. If you have a co-worker you trust, or an IC that is competent and will maintain confidentiality, you might have someone review them with you to brainstorm ideas.

Watching back your lessons will help you figure out where this battle is coming from. Are you losing their attention? Teaching over their head? Are they trying and then giving up? Or not trying at all? Are you missing opportunities to get participation?

Your issue may be with instruction, but it may be with pacing and you will see that if you watch yourself as well.

Part of my day I work as an IC and my position is fairly new in our district. In the beginning, people often think having me model a lesson and talk about it will help, but classes behave differently for different people, we have different styles, etc. If you are looking for "bag of tricks" type ideas to increase engagement, watching modeled lessons may help. But they aren't going to get to the root of your concern.
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Old 04-06-2019, 04:07 PM
 
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h0kie, I think your husband's method is brilliant!
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Iíll tell him, Zia!
Old 04-06-2019, 04:21 PM
 
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h0kie, I think your husband's method is brilliant!
Ha! Me too! Iíll tell him you said so.

I was really impressed when he told me about it since heís an engineer turned teacher with no traditional training.
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Old 04-07-2019, 12:08 PM
 
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They've told me that I need to have the students do more of the work and not just following along as I and a few students participate. However, I've tried different ways/formats of "we do" or having students work on their own or with teams/partners. But ultimately it keeps coming down to the same battle: either they sit there and say"I don't get it" without trying and looking at my examples or I do most of the work and they copy it down. My administrators know that I've been struggling in certain areas, because I've been coming to them for assistance/guidance, and have let it known that I would appreciate extra help or coaching in the classroom. However, very little materialized from any of this, other than suggestions/advice for changes that I would like to implement but either don't know or don't have the tools to do.


I got similar feedback, and I also had the students who sat there. I am newer than you, have asked for help, and received none. Then i got a horrible observation. I am in a position where i came in the middle of the year (Feb) and took over the class from.....I had the Supervisor come in and try to teach and she did not much better. AT this point i am also frustrated but i am open to leaving the school. I am just so sick of this nonsense.
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From my very provincial experience
Old 04-07-2019, 12:37 PM
 
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If they've put you on an improvement plan, they've already decided to get rid of you. I would be looking for another job, and in my state, that would be easy to find. I've never been on an improvement plan, but I've seen other people who have.

The idea of another poster's husband's idea is a great one, but in the districts I've worked at, if you were under their microscope, you would be called out for publicly who "can't" do the work (i.e. they can't do it easily while playing on their phones and paying zero attention in class) humiliating kids Many kids I've dealt with would just tell you to "f*ck off" and refuse to do the work to look cool in front of their peers. They would do nothing and dare you to fail them.

As far as trying to get kids to more of the work, . Administrators preach that all of the time, but if most people were to try that with most normal kids, nothing would ever get done.

I think you just have a rough group of kids, and there's nothing anybody could do. I'm sure adminstration knows this and knows they couldn't do anything with them if they actually had to teach them.

A couple years ago, we had teachers from an elite math and science academy in my state come to my school and give our staff all kinds of instructional suggestion. I'd love to see them actually stay for a year and try to teach the actual kids we've got. It would be hilarious.
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