After the past four years of teaching in a zero-accountability atmosphere, you can imagine this year has been a bit of a head-spin for me. Everyday, I feel like I am struggling to catch my breath. This past week was the first one wherein I felt, “Okay. I got this.” And, let me tell you, I’m the original “I got this!” girl. It is hard. And, while I have mixed feelings about the current level of teacher accountability (do students and parents have any accountability? I can’t tell?), I do very much prefer having some accountability.
Here is the issue with a zero accountability environment: Some kids will get educated and some will not. No one will know, and it is unclear if anyone cares. The other issue is that there is no way for your administrator to evaluate you. . .And, imagine if all that kept you employed was if your administration personally liked you or not. I know it often does feel that way, but at least when there is some accountability there is a method for measurement. It isn’t perfect, but hey, it is better than “I like you; I like this.” My final issue with zero accountability is everyone is getting paid the same whether or not they are doing the work. Work with some folks who don’t work and earn the same as you. . .It will eventually chafe.
I was flummoxed to hear at my pre-service training for my county that I had to have a “Standards Wall” wherein I kept a list of what we were learning. . . AND, that this wall had to be interactive for students. This Standards Wall is a replacement for the “outdated” Word Wall concept. After the exhaustive explanation, it seemed it was designed for year-long “traditional” studies, NOT the 9-week cyclical Connections (Music, P.E., Art etc.) courses. My fellow art teachers and I pointed this out, only to be met with the (typical) bureaucratic stance of “of course this works for you.” Uhhhh.
Well, we sure as heck made it work for us.
At our little hold-out fine arts table, my fellow art teachers and I concocted a series of concepts for making the Standards Wall work for us. Some of us thought about creating something that met the requirements but for which we would have to do little work. I get that, and I work on the same philosophy for some items in my educational life. If I, however, have to make some big bunch of “accountability” for one of my walls, I wanted to make it WORK for me. I love this model that some of my fellow art teachers developed. It was a very collaborative experience, so I can’t claim any ownership.
We decided to work on the premise below:
The idea is that you can list “1 important Standard” (I know all of our projects have at least 4-5 standards we use, but focus on one for this), and then have the subgroups for the Comprehensive Art Model follow. As a part of review my students and I devise which categories the history, elements, vocabulary, products, and personal responses to the art we are creating go. We write them on index cards and then use double-stick tape to adhere the cards to the appropriate category. I leave the cards up for the entire 9-weeks. In a way, it serves as a Word Wall and a Standard Wall. I regularly see my students reference it as we review etc. So far, I really like it, and it appears my administration does as well.
Here is what my Matrix looks like on my wall:
taken prior to school opening, so no index cards are adhered just yet!
So, take that bureaucracy! We made it work. . .And work way better than you would think.
Also, unrelated to this post, but something I want to share: One of my Georgia Art Teacher buds has started a great web space, The Crayon Lab. I hope you go and check out what is going on! She is sharing some great stuff!!