I have received a letter signed by the “Deputy Chancellor of Teaching and Learning (as designee for Joel I. Klein Chancellor)” which reads as follows:
April 29, 2008
“Please be advised that the appeal of Ms. Moriah Untamed from the rating of ‘Unsatisfactory’ for the period ending June 2007 has been denied and the said rating is sustained as a consequence of refusal to adequately plan and deliver instruction.”
I have not yet given a detailed description of the closing arguments and some of the questions put to me by the “Chancellor’s Committee Chairperson”.
I had originally planned to write a very close rendition of the entire hearing for the use of others who will be going into one of these hearings for the first time. I would have appreciated being able to read more about the process before I had to go through it. I know every hearing is different, but knowledge is power. That’s one of the reasons why I became a teacher. Knowledge is Power.
However, that was last year, and I haven’t even begun to write about this year—which is almost over.
So let’s just say, that by closing arguments, the die is cast. I think it will be more useful at this point for other teachers to know what I would have done in hindsight (20/20).
1. I spent hours writing responses to all my U-rated lessons. I posted these responses in August of 2007 at the beginning of this blog. They were the reason I began this blog. NONE OF MY RESPONSES WERE ENTERED INTO EVIDENCE. Principal P. faxed the Observations written by her and her assistant principals, but my responses were not included. My representative did have copies of my responses and alluded to some of the points I had made, but this was all done verbally, and couldn’t possibly compare to my detailed written responses.
Always write responses to U-rated observations and to any letters in your file. Get help if need be to write these responses in a way that refutes anything that could used against you in a U-rating hearing.
Before the hearing ask your UFT hearing representative:
“At what point in the hearing will my responses be entered into evidence “ ?
2. I spent weeks during the summer of 2007 and hours before the actual hearing organizing evidence that would refute their charges.
I not only had my lesson plans for the lessons that had been U-rated, I had them for the whole year. After October of 2006, all of them had been read and approved by my Assistant Principal in weekly meetings with me.
I had a student’s journal that contained the daily objectives and notes for the entire year –September through June. They provided evidence that I had really taught the lessons represented in my lesson plans.
I had student work samples that came out of many different lessons (Especially hands-on inquiry labs) in addition to the work resulting from the U-rated lessons.
I insisted on entering the student work samples into evidence during my closing. The Chairperson grudgingly took some lesson plans and artifacts—including the student’s science journal. He didn’t look happy about it.
Always keep a copy of representative student work that results from your lessons—especially those that have been observed. Get them right away. Make copies. Get students and parents to sign statements that give you permission to use the examples of excellent student work. Make sure that every page is dated. If you are being seriously targeted, get everything notarized.
Ask your UFT hearing representative: “When will I be able to enter my lesson plans and student work samples into evidence?”
3. I was informed on several occasions by different representatives of the UFT that the U-rating hearing was just a formality and that very few people win.
Make it clear in a nice way to the person who will be representing you that no matter how much of a done deal this hearing might be, you want to make it as hard as possible for them to find against you. In fact, you want to make it so hard that they could be held legally accountable somewhere down the line.
Don’t disrespect or piss off your UFT representative. He is not out to get you. But he is not a lawyer. Get the most you can out of him. Talk to a real lawyer if you want, but don’t advertise the fact that you did. You can present any ideas suggested by the real lawyer as your own.
Get in touch with others who have already been through U-rating hearings. Pump them for information. What would they have done differently? How could they have improved their defense?
Remember, you are trying to make it a criminal offense to find you guilty.