Monday, August 20, 2012

The ARIS Self-Assessments

Lord knows that ARIS has its shortcomings. There are too many to list or even consider.  I don't want to disappoint anyone with a lack of cynicism,  but I am one to think that if we do great work, the bastards will leave us alone (or at least look like schmucks if they come after us). To that end, there is one area in ARIS that actually has some potential benefit. It's called the "Teacher Competencies Self Assessment"  ("Learn" tab/ "Self Assessments" sub tab "Teacher Competencies").

It's a self-assessment designed around Charlotte Danielson's Framework For Effective Teaching. It gives teachers a chance to grade themselves along the Danielson rubric in the same manner a supervisor might do so in the future (same areas. Same rubric). Using the self-assessment, a teacher can decide for him or herself just how well (s)he would score on each part of the observation rubric. At the end of the self-assessment, the teacher gets a check list identifying what level of competency the teacher thinks he or she has.

I just want to give you three reasons why you should consider taking the self-assessment.

  1. It's a good way to shake off the summer cobwebs and get your brain ready for teaching. All of us have the shake the cobwebs at some point. While I used to wait until the first few days of actual teaching, I've found that if I get this process over with in the final days of August, the transition into a work-life is much easier. I'm much more easy going as I prep and the kids have a more engaging time with my first few lessons.
  2. It'll help prepare you for possible agreement on the upcoming teacher evals. While most folks think the new system won't kick in until the next Mayor gets here, there is still an outside chance that the city and the UFT will come to agreement (thanks in large part to the Governor's promise to withhold state aid for all districts that don't reach agreement by next January). IF (and it's a big if) this happens mid-year, the eval process for many of us might change -in the middle of the year! That would be chaos for any teacher who wasn't well versed in the Danielson observation rubric (and if you have a bad supervisor, not knowing about Danielson might make you extremely vulnerable to unfair observations). Taking this assessment might get you ready for that possibility (maybe even more ready than your AP or P is).  When you're done with the assessment, you can print the results and keep it in a file in your classroom (ever ready to show a supervisor that you've been thinking about this stuff in detail).
  3. It'll help any teacher who's keen on improvement. Most of the outstandingly good teachers I've worked alongside aren't into the whole improvement thing. While I don't think there's anything wrong with not embracing the whole "I  must always improve" mantra, I have to admit that I do and there are things in this rubric from which almost every teacher can glean understanding to help them improve. While the need for improvement may not be worth giving up part of your summer for a whole course, a few minutes taking this self-assessment may not be so bad.
So if you're ready to start thinking about work again, the self assessment tool in ARIS isn't such a bad place to start

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