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Ameera Ali

September 21

Ms. Alpha told me that she will meet with me September 25. She said that we will go over

Danielson. She also said that the superintendent is expected to visit that day but we can meet at


September 25

Ms. Alpha did not meet with me on this day because she was preparing for the superintendent

visit. She met with the superintendent and Ms. Alpha shared with me that it was a very tense

meeting. She told me one thing from the meeting, that the superintendent commented that the

leaves were missing on the tree on the attendance bulletin board. He said that it looked very

bad since it was on the first floor. I told her that I will put up the rest of the leaves in the morning.

Reflection: The superintendent came to discuss data and instruction with Ms. Alpha. I thought

she would tell me something about math, but she did not. I was disappointed. I wanted helpful

feedback that would assist me in my planning and preparation for future professional

development. Instead, I got comments on a bulletin board.

September 26 – 9:00AM – 10:00AM

Ms. Alpha and I reviewed the October calendars and study group sessions. At one point, she

said that the mothers of students complained that there was not a “mom bring your child to

school day.” There was a “dad bring your child to school day” a week ago. She said, “They
complained about the most mundane things but when it came to their children’s education, no

one stopped by her office.”

Reflection: I loved the “idea of mom or dad bring your child to school.” I felt that this was

unfair especially if they did not live with their mom or dad. Many children in my school live

with a foster parent, aunt, uncle, or grandparents. This was an event that I would never put

on the calendar when I am in charge.

At the end of the meeting, she told me to close her door. She said that due to low enrollment

(474 students) and a “$55,000 or so” budget cut, she had to excess two teachers.

Reflection: This had to be one of the most difficult part of the job. After 13 days into the school

year, she told two teachers they had to leave. Ms. Alpha looked drawn and tired. I thought

about if I wanted this kind of position and the stress that was attached to it. Budget cuts led

to the arts being cut. I wondered, did she have to excess those positions? Was there a way

around it? Could she have done something to prevent this from happening? I have worked

here for 16 years and no one has ever been excessed.

I found out from Ms. Beta (an assistant principal) that the superintendent always came to my

previous principal about the budget. However, unlike Ms. Alpha, the previous principal had

data to back up her unwillingness to excess any teacher. Ms. Beta said, “as long as the data

went up, there was a case not to excess teachers.”

October 1 – 8:15 – 10:00 (Shadowing Ms. Beta)

Ms. Beta told me that when she went into classes she looked for specific things. This included,

portfolios, fire-drill charts, lesson plans for the week, bulletin boards (with a task, rubric, standard,

comments on each piece of work), and the flow of the day chart (learning objectives that tell

what the students are learning at a specific time, in “kid-friendly” language). She also observed

how the students were grouped and the instruction that happened at the moment.

We walked into Teacher 1 room and sat in the back. The teacher taught a lesson on inferencing.

Ms. Beta sat for about 2 to 3 minutes, listened and then walked around. She looked through the

portfolios to determine if the goal, checklist, and dates were there. She looked at the teacher’s

lesson plan for about 3 minutes.

Reflection: Ms. Beta was very thorough for our first visit. She recommended that the teacher

wrote the “how” in the learning objective explaining to the teacher that “I will determine the

theme” was not enough. The “how” was missing. The teacher should have added “by using

my prior knowledge and details from the text.” I told her about when my students made an

inference, sometimes they referred to their prior knowledge that was not connected to the

topic at all. I told her this misconception had to be addressed once it is recognized. I liked the

first visit. Ms. Beta knew exactly what she was looking for and was focused.

Next, we went to Teacher 2 and sat down. Ms. Beta went to look at the bulletin board and then

asked the teacher for the lesson plans. The teacher had a lesson plan in her hand.
The following conversation occurred:

Ms. Beta – “Do you have your lesson plan for the week?”
Teacher – “Yes.”
MB – “They’re supposed to be readily available.”
T – “I have to print it.”

The teacher walked over to a computer and had difficulty retrieving it. Ms. Beta said to her to

plan her week and come up with a system so her plans were readily available. This entire scenario

was done with discretion. It also took time away from instruction which Ms. Beta pointed out.

Reflection: I understood the reason why Ms. Beta wanted teachers to have plans for the week.

It showed continuity and planning on their part. However, she wanted it to be readily available.

Maybe, she could have left a note for the teacher to hand in her plans by the end of the day.

Even though their exchange was discrete, teacher 2 was very nervous and filled with anxiety at

the moment. For some teachers, this can affect the rest of the lesson.

Next, we visited teacher 3 – grades 3 and 4 together. When we entered, the students were all

doing System 44, an intervention program for struggling readers. We did not sit down in this

class. Ms. Beta went immediately to the lesson plans and she (the teacher) too, had the rest of

her plans in a cloud.

Ms. Beta also noticed the calendar. The date was correct but it said, “Yesterday was Tuesday,

Today is Wednesday, Tomorrow will be Thursday.” It was incorrect. She wanted to know when

calendar talk was done during the day. I said that there was no calendar talk during the math
block and that it was done in the morning. She said this routine had to be established and clearly

defined for the school.

Reflection: By now, I noticed that lesson plans took priority. I understand the importance of

lesson plans. However, Ms. Beta did not notice that the teacher did not differentiate the lesson

that she was teaching. There were no tools on the table, e.g. white boards, markers, letters,

and words. There was no individual learning in the small groups. In addition, when she showed

me the calendar and asked me about the math routines, I thought she clearly knew the math

block – there was no time in it for calendar talk. This took me by surprise and I felt a little

anxious afterwards. The conversation about the calendar took place in the classroom. It was

distracting and uncomfortable for me and I know for the teacher, as well. Again, Ms. Beta

should have left a note for the teacher to update her calendar board.

Last, we visited Teacher 4 (one-year teaching experience) – grades 4 and 5 together. The

students were working on a geography sheet since the materials for their class had not arrived

yet. Ms. Beta walked over to the portfolios, looked in, and then brought some back to me. There

was nothing written on the cover or inside. I can tell this disappointed her especially when the

class has 4 para-professionals and twelve students. She took pictures of the flow of the day chart

which wasn’t updated. Ms. Beta then asked for the lesson plans, looked at it briefly, and left.

We returned to her office and debriefed. She said it was important that her feedback was not

judgmental or inferred. She said the students seemed to be engaged but there was no

differentiation. She pointed out a student who was in 4th grade but reading on a 2nd grade level.
Reflection: When Ms. Beta went in, she was focused on finding evidence for 1a and 1e in

Danielson. Planning coherent instruction is the heart of teaching and can be a crucial guide as

a teacher goes through his or her day. Thorough planning from the teachers is a must-have. I

also liked how she wrote the feedback. She kept it bulleted and to the point. I do believe that

Ms. Beta should meet with each grade 4 teacher. This is another way for a teacher to feel

valued and they will appreciate the instructional advice.

October 3

Ms. Alpha invited me to sit with administrators as they went over the NYS data with the teachers

in grades 3 and 4. There were separate meetings for both grades. There was nothing drastically

different between them. They were both tense, uncomfortable, and contentious. Ms. Alpha’s

comments included statements like, “Never in my life, have I seen data like this,” “This was like

a dagger through the heart,” “We have always performed better than the other schools around

here, now I can’t say anything,” “The superintendent is going to be on us like white on rice and I

don’t want that,” “And we have effective teacher, not as many as before, and well forget highly

effective, no way,” “we are going to have visitors up the wazoo,” and “We’re going to be coming

in (to classrooms).” As a result of the data, the superintendent was going to dispatch an ELL

support and a SWD support and will be visiting more often.

One of the 4th grade teachers immediately asked if all of District 2 schools were using the same

math program. Then she said, “I close the book and just teach. These children don’t have the

foundation; I have to start from the beginning.”

Reflection: I waited for an administrator to say something but no one spoke up. What was

going on? This teacher had 25 students in her class, 16 of whom have IEPs. She told a group

of administrators that all of her students did not have the prior knowledge. Why did they not

say anything? I have visited her class and she taught a one size fits all, lectured for 50-75

minutes – no centers, every student doing the same thing. Not one administrator pointed this

out to her.

I loved the superintendent response of pouring support into our school! I think we need the

support and the visits. We need administrators to visit classrooms daily and give feedback.

Maybe this is what we were missing the last three years since Ms. Alpha took over. She need

to mobilize herself as well as the two assistant principals.

At the same time, this kind of coercive style of leadership can have damaging effects especially

with “teachers who seek the satisfaction of work well done”. And this was exactly what

happened. Soon after the meeting ended, a 4th grade teacher walked back with me to my office

and said she was doing everything she can and what they just said hurts (she had tears in her


The message got lost and that was because of the way it was presented. The data went down

and there was no collaboration between the teacher teams and administration. There were
no suggestions given and no opportunities for team building. Instead, it was just the leaders

top down decision-making. The climate of the school is already very low, trust is barely there

between administrators and teachers, and basically there is no genuine camaraderie.