Dave Orphal

Dave Orphal

My friend is being fired from her teaching job.

As sad and sympathetic as I am for my friend, I can’t say that I am surprised. I’ve known this teacher for several years, and I’ve seen the burnout coming for the entire time of our friendship.

This teacher has been using language like “those kids” and “the kids” for a long time. Listening to her refer to students like this, as opposed to talking about “my kids,” is a red flag for me. I know that when I stop referring to my students as “mine,” then I’m flirting with burnout and phoning in my job performance.

I was out to dinner with my friend this weekend, talking about her unsatisfactory performance reviews and her upcoming hearing. While sitting there, I was torn. I felt empathy and compassion for her. She once was a fantastic teacher. For the last two years, she has been facing constant scrutiny. It would be incredibly hard for me to hear that I was not doing a good job – I would feel defensive, too. I would want to shift the blame to the kids, my principal, or the parents rather than face the shame of acknowledging that it was me who was the problem.

At the same time, we both knew that it was time for her to leave the classroom.

My friend has the services of a lawyer from our union. However, even with that support, she was thinking about quitting and transitioning completely out of the education profession.

After a moment, I said, “This might be really hard to hear, but I wish you would fight. I think that if you fight and lose, you could do a great service for your fellow teachers.” In this new, post-Vergara v. California world, I think it would be good to remind folks that the current system works.

Let me take a moment to talk about the current system. Despite what I often hear in the media, teachers do not have “tenure.” Rather, once we have moved past our two-year probationary period, teachers in California gain due-process rights. After we start our third year, we cannot be fired unless the school district follows a process. We certainly do not have “jobs for life.”

My friend is a great example of this. If she doesn’t just quit – if she fights for her job and loses, the whole process will take two years. During the 2012-13 school year, she received two unsatisfactory reviews from her principal. At the end of that school year, she was given an improvement plan. This past year, she didn’t follow through on the plan and earned more unsatisfactory reviews.

If she fights and loses, she will show that the process actually works.

I’m tired of hearing administrators say, “It’s impossible to fire bad teachers!” When they do, I ask, “Well, did you try to fire _____?” “No,” they always reply. “It’s too hard, so I didn’t even start the process.” Who are they kidding?

Let’s think about this another way: Imagine hearing a district attorney say, “I didn’t even try to argue the case; it’s too hard to get a conviction.” If that happened, we wouldn’t be complaining aimlessly about the increase in crime or lack of justice. Instead, we would be hollering at those DAs to get to work.

Likewise, instead of wringing our hands over how “impossible” it is to fire bad teachers, we should demand that principals do their jobs and get the process started. If principals are too overwhelmed with the myriad other responsibilities they have, then we should focus our ire on district administration to alleviate some of the principals’ burdens so that they can do a proper job of evaluating and leading their teachers.

Too often I hear that the teachers union is only interested in “protecting the worst” of my colleagues. Keep in mind: The union is supposed to defend all teachers in dismissal cases. The administration is supposed to prosecute all teachers in dismissal cases. The system is, by its very nature, adversarial. It is in that clash where the truth can come out.

Next for my friend is a hearing. I hope she goes through with it. While it may be embarrassing for her, shameful even, to hear the case against her, if she has the courage, she could do a lot of teachers a great service. She could stand up with CTA and NEA and say, “See? The system works. I burned out. I needed to leave the classroom, but I didn’t know it at the time. My school and principal knew, and they had a way of transitioning me out.”

I doubt that she will go through with it, and I can’t blame her. If I were in her shoes, I don’t know if I would have the courage to stand up and open up about no longer being good at my job.

There but for the grace of God go I.

I hope I never burn out. I hope that if I do someday, I will find ways to reconnect to why I love my job and reclaim my inner fire. If I can’t, I hope I have the courage to do what’s best for the kids.

Dave Orphal teaches in the Education Academy at Skyline High School in Oakland. A past president of the Eureka Teachers Association, he writes about policy and his own classroom practice at “After the Bell” on the Center for Teaching Quality’s Collaboratory.

This piece was originally published on the Center for Teaching Quality’s Collaboratory.

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  1. Anne Roundy-Harter 2 years ago2 years ago

    Hi Dave, I enjoyed your article and am glad to know you are still blogging about educational matters. I’m also very glad to know you are not burned out as that means your students still benefit from your teaching! Your article is thought-provoking and I hope a lot of people read it and carefully consider your words about the responsibility of all parties involved with the due-process system.

  2. Louise Bayman 2 years ago2 years ago

    I have the greatest respect for teachers.I am not built to do your job. Even in my profession, there are those with burn out. I tell them I was looking for a job when I found this one! I find it stupid to stay in a job you hate. If there is no joy and pleasure in what you are doing, for heavens sake do something else! I am glad there is a due process.

  3. Leonard Isenberg 2 years ago2 years ago

    You're not much of a friend. The fact that LAUSD saves approximately $60,000 in combined salary and benefits when it gets rid of a teacher at the top of the salary scale just couldn't be the real motive they are after your friend and the thousands like her around the country as the close to $1 trillion a year public education "biz" goes the way of credit default swaps and sub prime. Corporate privatization of … Read More

    You’re not much of a friend. The fact that LAUSD saves approximately $60,000 in combined salary and benefits when it gets rid of a teacher at the top of the salary scale just couldn’t be the real motive they are after your friend and the thousands like her around the country as the close to $1 trillion a year public education “biz” goes the way of credit default swaps and sub prime. Corporate privatization of public education couldn’t be just another corporate scam?

    If a teacher pulled what LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy did in his little deal with Pearson Education and Apple, they’d be out of a job.

    http://www.perdaily.com/2012/11/
    http://www.perdaily.com/2013/08/lausd–still-rotten-to-its-common-core.html

  4. Ann 2 years ago2 years ago

    Poor reviews in 12-13? No improvement last year Starting now the remainder of the “process” will take two years? That’s 4 years! 100+ students lives and futures may be affected negatively. Uphold Vergara

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      As the “Red Queen” would say, some suggesting this was arbitrary and capricious, “Off with their heads!”

  5. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    It would be interesting to know how many (if any) supports were provided to this teacher about to exit the profession. Obviously, among the challenges confronting teachers and education the Vergara "solution" deals with none of them. The two year process described in the article suggests a teacher who was in the process of burnout, but had not flamed out and crashed. The due process of giving her notice, developing am improvement plan, and then continued … Read More

    It would be interesting to know how many (if any) supports were provided to this teacher about to exit the profession.

    Obviously, among the challenges confronting teachers and education the Vergara “solution” deals with none of them. The two year process described in the article suggests a teacher who was in the process of burnout, but had not flamed out and crashed. The due process of giving her notice, developing am improvement plan, and then continued evaluation to see if the plan was working or not could have been carried out more quickly, but it appears her administrators must have valued her as a teacher and wanted to give her time to recover. Didn’t work out but it seems reasonable and humane. If the teacher had represented some immediate danger to students, in behavior or learning, she could have been removed from the classroom at once and the due process continue from there in relatively short order.

    Many situations in schools, and the current evaluation process, typically does’t present reasonable people with clear cut, on/off, yes/no/, right/wrong, effective/ineffective , answers.

    Often when discussing issues around Vergara, “tenure (sic),” due process issues I tend to point fingers at management. Let me say right now that the “problems” do not always reside at their doorstep. Most administrators I have worked with in various capacities have been committed professionals with good intentions. Needless to say, CA doesn’t support them either. There are fewer administrators per student than just about any state in the union. They work with teachers who have larger classes and fewer resources than any other state in the union. School administrators are overburdened and face their own issues with recruitment and retention. It would be interesting if the state’s school administrators condemned Vergara too, but I understand that politically that would be difficult and assuming a duck&cover position is more pragmatic. Some, at higher levels, may actually see Vergara as a potential convenience. But let me also suggest: “First they came for the teachers, and no one objected. And then they came for the site principals, and no one objected. And then…” We know how that ends.

    Ultimately, it gets to what Linda Darling-Hammond had to say regarding evaluation and teacher supports: “We are not going to fire our way to Finland.” That is very true and also, likely, very disappointing to some.

    Replies

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      This is a great and very insightful comment by Mr.Ravani even though I have different views on many levels. One of the best I’ve read by him.

      A minor exception would be his criticism of Vergara for not providing a solution. Statutory challenges are made to interpret law, in this case constitutional law. They are not made to create new laws or policies. Those come about often as a result of such challenges when they are upheld.

    • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

      Another issue is the sabbatical. Perhaps instead of allowing a sabbatical every 8th year at 60% of pay, we should allow a sabbatical every 11th year at 100% of pay. It would only cost slightly more and perhaps we could require 10 for the first 3 and allow the fourth sabbatical after 8 years so a teacher could reasonably count on 4 sabbaticals in a career to reduce burnout. The problem is … Read More

      Another issue is the sabbatical. Perhaps instead of allowing a sabbatical every 8th year at 60% of pay, we should allow a sabbatical every 11th year at 100% of pay. It would only cost slightly more and perhaps we could require 10 for the first 3 and allow the fourth sabbatical after 8 years so a teacher could reasonably count on 4 sabbaticals in a career to reduce burnout. The problem is many teachers in mid career have mortgages and expenses and are never able to actually take these sabbaticals. On paper it would be the same but it would ensure sabbaticals are actually taken. This would reduce burn out and probably unexpected absence percentage.

      • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

        A good teacher is like a candle. It consumes itself to light the way for others.

        • Joan 2 years ago2 years ago

          “Consumes itself to light the way for others”.

          Very interesting…….

          There’s that expectation of being a secular saint again for a teacher.

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            You know, Joan, there are so many labels being applied to teachers lately that “secular saint” doesn’t seem all that bad.

            • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

              It's really a dividing line though. A bad teacher will think nothing of taking a day off to relax hurting 30 kids, call it a mental health day, and laugh with their friends about it. They think nothing of saying they can't make it due to a doctor's appointment, but a week or two later they have a free day they could have chosen for that appointment such as Spring Break, or they … Read More

              It’s really a dividing line though. A bad teacher will think nothing of taking a day off to relax hurting 30 kids, call it a mental health day, and laugh with their friends about it. They think nothing of saying they can’t make it due to a doctor’s appointment, but a week or two later they have a free day they could have chosen for that appointment such as Spring Break, or they could have made the appointment at 4:30. A truly good teacher would always put the interests of their students above their own and only take a day off as a desperate last resort.

              A good teacher would consider their students in every personal decision involving time on and off. That is why I think the author of this article had a point when he was wary when she stopped referring to the students as her own. She stopped taking ownership and responsibility for their performance. She in essence passed the buck. This is why Harry S. Truman would have been a good teacher.

            • Joan 2 years ago2 years ago

              LOL, Gary. I agree.

      • el 2 years ago2 years ago

        Interesting idea.

  6. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    As a number of folks have pointed out there are a number of "contradictions" in the above article. The author seems more than a little "conflicted," as does the "burned-out teacher." It's almost as if they were actual human beings, rather than school personnel, where real life situations are more often than not quite ambiguous. But, of course, in schools everything is very clear cut. Kids are "on grade level" or not as determined, quite neatly, … Read More

    As a number of folks have pointed out there are a number of “contradictions” in the above article. The author seems more than a little “conflicted,” as does the “burned-out teacher.” It’s almost as if they were actual human beings, rather than school personnel, where real life situations are more often than not quite ambiguous.

    But, of course, in schools everything is very clear cut. Kids are “on grade level” or not as determined, quite neatly, by a test score. Teachers too, are effective or not and also determined quite neatly by test scores.

    Kids in reality are mostly strong in some areas and then weaker in others. They have growth spurts physically as well as intellectually (and in learning) and then periods of near stasis. (Try working in a middle-school!) Test cores do a very poor job of capturing any picture of the whole child. And as for teachers, student test scores are valueless in evaluating effectiveness. (See ETS, RAND, National Statistical Association, National Research Council.) Anyone who is a parent should appreciate the multiple dimensions presented by any child and how they can change from event to event and from minute to minute. Teachers understand this and being presented with 20 to 40 little dimension-shifters at one time in one room understand that the classroom represents a kind of controlled chaos at the best of times. At the worst it’s just chaos.

    Dealing with all of this results in teaching having a very high rate of “early leavers” (the CSU term), up to 50% of new teachers leaving the profession within the first 5 years. This often leads me to say, with considerable accuracy, that in the US (and CA) we have a problem keeping teachers not getting rid of them. Not only does the “early leaver” phenomenon result in personnel churn and instability at schools, according to CSU it costs the state around 1/2 billion dollars a year in lost education and professional development dollars.

    Again, exit interviews of departing teachers (from schools as well as the profession) indicate that “poor leadership” and lack of resources are the primary reasons. Shall we call those reasons facets of “burn out?”

    Taking into account the complexities involved, evaluating teacher performance is is a difficult and nuanced task. A preferred, if not “perfect,” evaluation program is described in CA’s latest reform road map, “Greatness by Design,” available for reading at the CDE website. It’s a complex and expensive evaluation system based on what’s done in other high performing school systems and research. It uses multiple measures and multiple evaluators. It focuses on continuous improvement of classroom practice, multiple supports for struggling teachers, and uses Peer Assistance and Review (PAR). PAR, of course, was one of the first casualties of budget “flexibility,” and has gone away in many places. Evaluation, done right, takes time.

    (Continued.)

  7. Andrew 2 years ago2 years ago

    I can think of two reasons that the author's teacher friend may be burned out, even though she was a "fantastic teacher" initially. She may have burned out because she is too fragile for the teaching profession. If so, sad, but it is necessary for her to find something to do for which she is better suited. Or she may have burned out because she cared a lot and because she was working in a … Read More

    I can think of two reasons that the author’s teacher friend may be burned out, even though she was a “fantastic teacher” initially.

    She may have burned out because she is too fragile for the teaching profession. If so, sad, but it is necessary for her to find something to do for which she is better suited.

    Or she may have burned out because she cared a lot and because she was working in a system that chews up and spits out teachers who care. As I’ve pointed out previously, California has the worst student to teacher ratios in the nation, and relative to the national average, half the high school teachers per students of the national average. In other words, twice the load of students relative to the national average. I assume that she was teaching in a California high school and if so, and if she was conscientious, she was being unfairly overworked and overstressed to death.

    California also has the worst ratio of counselors to students and very close to the worst ratio of administrators to students. So unless her school was different, this teacher was horribly unsupported in her role, by the numbers.

    Either way, the author’s approach is misplaced. If the teacher friend is so fragile as to be unsuited to a reasonable teaching career, she needs to get out and find something more suitable ASAP.

    If she is burned out because the system is underfunded, and understaffed and she is overworked and overstressed, and unsupported, it is not her fault and she should not be blamed or deemed unsuitable as a result of her “burnout.” The conditions under which she labored are wrong and her fellow teachers, the unions, and every one of us needs to declare war, unconditional war, on her behalf to fix them, including at the hearing.

    Some of the worst few teachers will not care enough to burn out. They won’t work hard enough to burn out. Some of them won’t even be smart enough, don’t even think enough, to burn out. They will be lifelong fixtures if not terminated. Drawing top scale salaries unfairly relative to newer effective teachers. It ought to be a lot easier to get read of them. Not easy, but a lot easier. It shouldn’t take anything like two years. There should be a prompt, fair, inexpensive hearing before an impartial judge, some sort of appeal rights designed to screen for serious judicial error, and the case is then over and done. Ordinary civil and even criminal court cases are handled that expeditiously in comparison. No reason a teacher termination should drag out much more or be much more expensive.

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

      This proves why tenure is wrong. She was great for many years. Changing from 2 to 5 wouldn't help. She became a bad teacher after many years. Yes, there are bad parents out there, our culture doesn't emphasize effort in education enough, poverty is an issue (though some notable groups overcome it), and tutoring services are limited. But bad teachers are a problem. If she sues, that's money the … Read More

      This proves why tenure is wrong. She was great for many years. Changing from 2 to 5 wouldn’t help. She became a bad teacher after many years. Yes, there are bad parents out there, our culture doesn’t emphasize effort in education enough, poverty is an issue (though some notable groups overcome it), and tutoring services are limited. But bad teachers are a problem. If she sues, that’s money the district can’t spend on tutors for disadvantaged kids without a parent who can or wishes to teach them, money they can’t spend on school supplies, money they can’t spend on lettuce, or raises for good teachers.

      It is too hard to fire a bad teacher. 19 were fired for quality and under 100 total in 10 years, statewide.

      Maybe having a department in the district that pushes through even if a principal doesn’t if there are say, 10 complaints from parents, or bad reviews from kids, or colleagues, anonymously, with 1-2 rounds of expedient streamlined due process and a prohibition on bullying the principal from other teachers, which has happened in the past, sometimes principals are bullied if they fire one teacher.

      One question I have is why doesn’t she take a sabbatical? I hate it when teachers take days off when not sick because subs are not usually good, but taking a year off is good, and fair, particularly if they take an actual school year off rather than a calendar year as some teachers do and which is disruptive to kids. I think sabbatical pay should be increased in this case from 60% to 100%. If she was once great, let her have a year to travel and regroup.

      • el 2 years ago2 years ago

        I see it quite differently.

        Here you have a formerly excellent employee, and management realizes she is no longer performing well. Management documents this and creates a plan of expectations. There is not improvement, and so the employee will probably resign rather than go through the hearing process she expects to lose.

        This is pretty much exactly what would happen in the private sector with a longtime professional employee, down to the part where the employee would choose to resign rather than be fired.

  8. Joan 2 years ago2 years ago

    I have a number of problems with your article, regarding your "friend" that is getting fired, because of her "burnout". As her "friend", if you saw this coming, perhaps you could have given her advice and help on how to rejuvenate herself, and possibly discuss the reasons why she burnt out. Was it the incessant pressure to perform, the impossibly long lessons plans that teachers are required to write, the long hours spent on research, and … Read More

    I have a number of problems with your article, regarding your “friend” that is getting fired, because of her “burnout”.

    As her “friend”, if you saw this coming, perhaps you could have given her advice and help on how to rejuvenate herself, and possibly discuss the reasons why she burnt out. Was it the incessant pressure to perform, the impossibly long lessons plans that teachers are required to write, the long hours spent on research, and then, having to print up all of this work?

    Was it the lack of resources ( such as textbooks and “hands on” materials) that teachers should get by the administration, so that teachers can actually do their jobs? Overcrowded classrooms, lack of administrative support? Or, a combination of all of this, and more?

    I could go on and on…..

    By your own admission, you stated that this teacher that is now considered to be “failing”, was once an excellent teacher. What happened to cause her to go from being a “good” teacher to a so called “failing” one? What are the reasons why this once “good” teacher has burnt out?

    Now, you write about how she should become a martyr, and example to the to the cause, and willingly submit herself to a process that is denigrating and humiliating, just to prove to the public that yes, “bad” teachers can be removed. You advocate for her to fight, not so that she can keep her position and be vindicated, but to make a case that tenure does NOT “protect” people like your friend, but that it’s because of lazy administrators not willing to do their job, even though these administrators are the ones that have made the very subjective observations and ratings of this teacher.

    I’d be very interested to see the outcome of this case. Yes, it’s probably true that this teacher is tired and burnt out. Teaching is very difficult, and the fact that so many leave prior to completing 5 years in this business attests to that.

    Why do we ( including those teachers that are, for now, considered to be “satisfactory” teachers) join the chorus of persecuting those that have stayed, and call for their heads?

    Shouldn’t we be thinking instead, about how to deal with the process of why teachers burn out, and how to retain these experienced professionals, rather than suggesting they become sacrificial lambs?

    As you said, yourself : “There but for the Grace of God, go I”.

    Replies

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      "Shouldn’t we be thinking instead, about how to deal with the process of why teachers burn out, and how to retain these experienced professionals, rather than suggesting they become sacrificial lambs?" In a word, no. There are lots of difficult jobs in this world. No doubt many of these jobs could be made better if only there were better bosses, more pay, less stress, etc. We don't insist that every employer and job be changed in … Read More

      “Shouldn’t we be thinking instead, about how to deal with the process of why teachers burn out, and how to retain these experienced professionals, rather than suggesting they become sacrificial lambs?”

      In a word, no. There are lots of difficult jobs in this world. No doubt many of these jobs could be made better if only there were better bosses, more pay, less stress, etc. We don’t insist that every employer and job be changed in order to suit the disgruntled or burned-out employee. Why should we do it for teachers when so many scores of students will suffer over a period of years from someone such as the self-described burnout in this article and do so while they wait around for the adults to figure out how to fix education? Again, we have teachers putting their self-interest over the needs of children. Joan, your defense of the teacher is thus: we shouldn’t fire any teacher until society can figure out how to fix our educational woes.

      • Joan 2 years ago2 years ago

        Frankly, Don, I doubt if you are a teacher, and know anything at all about what teachers experience on a day to day basis, particularly those that work in inner city, urban schools across America. You point to the fact of life that many other professions experience stresses, which is true. But, no other profession that I can think of, other than teachers, comes under the scrutiny, vitriol, and misunderstandings that teachers experience. Are doctors rated … Read More

        Frankly, Don, I doubt if you are a teacher, and know anything at all about what teachers experience on a day to day basis, particularly those that work in inner city, urban schools across America.

        You point to the fact of life that many other professions experience stresses, which is true. But, no other profession that I can think of, other than teachers, comes under the scrutiny, vitriol, and misunderstandings that teachers experience. Are doctors rated “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory”, based on a few cases where their patients may have died, or the operation, though successful, did not “cure” the ailment of the patient? How about lawyers? Are they judged “incompetent” by the cases they may have lost, regardless of the circumstances? I could go on, but I’m sure you get the gist of my argument.

        Frankly, because teachers are expected to be secular saints, and now to cure all the ills of society, somehow, in the classroom, and are paid through tax dollars, I suspect that is behind these teacher reform movements, and the push to get rid of so called “bad” teachers. It’s a political and financial football, particularly since so much of the public perceives that being a teacher is a “cushiony” job.

        Why shouldn’t we try to fix our educational woes, rather than blaming it all on teachers? After all, we can only work with what we have, particularly in the public schools. Overcrowded classrooms, lack of materials, endless ( uncompensated) hours spent doing IEP’s, lesson planning, printing, data recording, etc.

        Perhaps in the case of this “bad” teacher, she just can’t take it anymore more. The demands of this position are not worth it, as the high turnover rate of new teachers attests to. If retirement is an option for her, I say go for it, and never look back.

        • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

          Well, Joan, you may doubt it, but I worked for several years in inner city urban schools and, though I didn't burn out, I came to the conclusion, in large part due to the stresses of the job, that I didn't want to be a teacher anymore. I can relate on a first hand basis to the stresses that teachers put up with daily, though I can only imagine the increases in those stresses … Read More

          Well, Joan, you may doubt it, but I worked for several years in inner city urban schools and, though I didn’t burn out, I came to the conclusion, in large part due to the stresses of the job, that I didn’t want to be a teacher anymore.

          I can relate on a first hand basis to the stresses that teachers put up with daily, though I can only imagine the increases in those stresses since I worked. However, I don’t use those problems as a catch-all to support the idea that no teachers should be dismissed until such stresses can be mitigated.

          And, as a matter of fact, doctors and to a lesser extent lawyers, are judged on the basis of a few or even a single case. Why do you think the malpractice insurance is so high?

          As far as your assertion that I’m blaming all teachers, not at all. I don’t support judging teachers on the basis of test scores nor do I believe they are not entitled to due process. I believe what the new head of the NEA believes, that we need to find a middle ground between the exhaustive statutory protections and something more in line with the 21st rather than 19th Centuries. I’m not a fan of scripted teaching or high stakes testing, etc. So please don’t use me as a wall on which to paint over all your boogiemen. It tickles.

        • el 2 years ago2 years ago

          Burnout occurs in all professions, most assuredly including medicine and law. It is part of being human. There's no magic way to prevent it from happening to anyone. Honestly, the burned-out person likely benefits as much from a career transition as the kids. Going to work every day to a stressful job that you hate isn't good for anyone. I think there are ways that some teachers can be rejuvenated - through changed assignments and through professional … Read More

          Burnout occurs in all professions, most assuredly including medicine and law. It is part of being human. There’s no magic way to prevent it from happening to anyone.

          Honestly, the burned-out person likely benefits as much from a career transition as the kids. Going to work every day to a stressful job that you hate isn’t good for anyone.

          I think there are ways that some teachers can be rejuvenated – through changed assignments and through professional development and conferences – but also that we can do more to make it easier to transition out when that’s the right thing for all parties. Foremost in that would be making a way for the pension system to better accommodate someone who has accumulated many years but not enough to retirement – perhaps by allowing them to keep paying in to the teaching system in lieu of Social Security.

          • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            I’ve read that many teachers never take sabbaticals. Why not make it every 11th year but full pay, so all teachers take 4 in a career, but really take them? It’s an unused benefit now.

  9. Jerry Winthrop 2 years ago2 years ago

    I fear that the comments here are missing the point, that being that "tenure" is really just another term for "due process," and there is already a process in place for removal of ineffective or inappropriate educators. The fact is that evaluation of teachers is a primary aspect of the administrator's job, and vilification of educators or their union because "they have jobs for life" or "you can't get rid of terrible teachers" is a … Read More

    I fear that the comments here are missing the point, that being that “tenure” is really just another term for “due process,” and there is already a process in place for removal of ineffective or inappropriate educators. The fact is that evaluation of teachers is a primary aspect of the administrator’s job, and vilification of educators or their union because “they have jobs for life” or “you can’t get rid of terrible teachers” is a gross misrepresentation of the facts, and a cheap way to funnel the blame away from those who bear the responsibility for recognizing and removing problem teachers. I often read these statements from lay persons not aware of the protocols in place for this purpose, and they’ve usually received this faulty information from administrators or ACSA, which has made this a cause celeb for the purpose of shifting the blame to teachers from where it really belongs.

  10. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    In response to the above comment and the article - Mr. Orphal, you stated, "we both of knew it was time for her to leave the classroom". So why are you encouraging her to go through a time-consuming, stressful, tedious and costly process just so she can find out what she already knows? If it is to make a point that the system works, you are doing your friend a disservice. Life is not … Read More

    In response to the above comment and the article – Mr. Orphal, you stated, “we both of knew it was time for her to leave the classroom”.

    So why are you encouraging her to go through a time-consuming, stressful, tedious and costly process just so she can find out what she already knows?

    If it is to make a point that the system works, you are doing your friend a disservice. Life is not that long to play these kinds of games.

    Replies

    • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

      It would be more of a micro-experiment than a game, right? While it is possible there is "winning" and "losing" here (from the district's or teacher's perspectives), the author's point is about verification of a particular belief. We should keep it in mind that his belief might not be verified if the process continues. What will he do then? Doubt is at the core of this piece. In addition, it wouldn't necessarily be about what … Read More

      It would be more of a micro-experiment than a game, right? While it is possible there is “winning” and “losing” here (from the district’s or teacher’s perspectives), the author’s point is about verification of a particular belief. We should keep it in mind that his belief might not be verified if the process continues. What will he do then? Doubt is at the core of this piece.

      In addition, it wouldn’t necessarily be about what the author “knows” but more of what the author “feels” is true based on what he has been told. Additionally, there are some interesting cross-purposes going on here. I get the feeling, Don, that you did not read carefully at the end of this author’s piece. Read those last three paragraphs again. It is quite a contradiction.

      I do agree that the author is probably not on this person’s short list of “good” friends, though.

      • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

        I assumed that what he meant by ” If I can’t [regain his inner fire and be a good teacher again], I hope I have the courage to do what’s best for the kids” is that he would simply leave the profession. He’s claimed that she knows she’s burned out so why isn’t he counseling her to do what he think is the courageous thing? This own piece is just so contradictory.

        • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

          correction- This WHOLE piece is just so contradictory.

          • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

            There's no doubt it is contradictory on many levels, but it is what makes this piece--on a writing and human level--interesting. I think it also touches upon the divide and complexities among the various factions on this issue. I find it funny that even the author is divided on it. BTW, his "courageous" for her is different than your "courageous" for her. See 4th paragraph from bottom that starts with "Next." … Read More

            There’s no doubt it is contradictory on many levels, but it is what makes this piece–on a writing and human level–interesting. I think it also touches upon the divide and complexities among the various factions on this issue. I find it funny that even the author is divided on it.

            BTW, his “courageous” for her is different than your “courageous” for her. See 4th paragraph from bottom that starts with “Next.”

            The questions that we should have are the ones that you imply with your “courageous” comment: Is what he is advocating ethical? Is he being an ethical friend? These are questions of good or bad regarding what he does or hopes to happen. And in this case, Don, I agree that it isn’t ethical.

  11. paula 2 years ago2 years ago

    I'm glad I am not your supposed friend? You give your friend no benefit of the doubt. Based on your judgement of what a teacher should be, you feel your friend should retire. Evaluations of this friend, done by a biased principal, does not a bad or incompetent teacher make. If burnout is the measure of if a person should be fired or not, many more people would need to go besides your supposed friend.k … Read More

    I’m glad I am not your supposed friend? You give your friend no benefit of the doubt. Based on your judgement of what a teacher should be, you feel your friend should retire. Evaluations of this friend, done by a biased principal, does not a bad or incompetent teacher make. If burnout is the measure of if a person should be fired or not, many more people would need to go besides your supposed friend.k You seem to be a self important detached observer of the problems many teachers who are veterans are experiencing. Increased scrutiny and harassment due to their age and being at the top of the salary scale. These actions against veteran teachers are real and widespread and violate teacher’s due process rights. Maybe when they do this to you you will realize how unfair and biased it is. Friend? You’re no friend of this teacher or of teacher’s in general. Get thee to a charter where they swallow this type of BS.

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