Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The UNsatisfactory Teacher

Today, after twenty years of teaching, I have received my first unsatisfactory observation. That means that the principal came in and observed a lesson, didn't like it, and wrote a letter saying so. No big deal, right? Wrong. An unsatisfactory letter is a big deal, because it will lead to an inevitable "U" rating at the end of the year. That will lead to the end of my teaching career. I will lose my income. I will lose my health coverage. And I will lose pension benefits.

So it's a big deal for me.

So why should you care? Well maybe you shouldn't. There are people who have much bigger problems than I have. However, I am sure that I am not alone. Somewhere else in Bloomberg's New York City Department of Education there is another teacher who has received or is about to receive a negative letter and is heading for an unsatisfactory rating at the end of this year just like I am. But no one will ever hear of it, because it all takes place behind closed doors and in secrecy. As soon as a teacher gets one of these letters, she feels ashamed. She wants to hide it from everyone. She quietly endures one letter after another--until one day she just disappears. "Whatever happened to good old Mary?" People shrug their shoulders and quickly change the subject.

This won't happen to me. I am going to make this a very public shaming, shunning, or what-ever-you-want-to-call-it. This isn't going to happen in some little dark corner of Bloomberg-land. So, if you want to see the step by step destruction of a very long, and, I think, very proud teaching career, then come for visit.

Why have I chosen to display what could be a very painful process? Well, as a science teacher I have noticed that germs don't grow as well in the light as in the dark. Lies are germs. And truth is light.

This blog is my truth.

Moriah Untamed


proofoflife said...

Hi Moriah, My name is Terry and I have been a teacher for 18 some odd years. I am new to this world of blogging having only discovered it a few days ago as I sit here on my sofa with the remaining days left. I just wanted you to know that your principal seemed to be a complete ass who was obviously out to get you. From what I have read I would say you went far beyond the call of duty. Your lessons and planning seem very extensive. It also shows that you were trying to differentiate instruction when you took on the task of building prior knowledge to the HIV lessons. You were on a cart and had the task of carrying around many objects, but I would say you were very creative in your manipulatives. Once again. I am sorry that this has happened to you. I expect that we will all see the same sort of situation as senior teachers fall prey to idiot admin. that are out to get us because they don't want to pay our salary. I am a chapter leader and am curious as to how much support you received from the UFT. When this type of problem begins to esculate and I am sure it will.. I want to see if the UFT will step in and help its mambers.

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

Yep it sounds familiar. I work for Education's version of Pol Pot(I do hope people know their history)and I am in trouble since I wear glasses and I'm smarter than my principal(that's not saying much I know).

We are living through some very dark times as teachers here in Gotham. All I can say is do your job, as I know you have and I have for 20 years and fight, fight, fight!!!!

"Dare to struggle. Dare to win."

20 year vet and U rated for the first time 2006-2007 academic year

Moriah Untamed said...

I wonder how many other teachers received U ratings for the first time after the 2006-2007 school year?

I have a feeling we have a lot of company. Good company.

Karen said...

This also just happened to me. It is really dragging me down. After ten years teaching with positive observations in the past, I got my first unsatisfactory one. I am now on an improvement plan. I feel that I have not been judged fairly, and I had the option of contesting it, but the final decision is made by the administrator, so what's the point?

Sydney said...

I just had the same thing happen. After 17 years of teaching both in Oakland, CA and here in NYC I have gotten a U observation. I find this ridiculous in so many ways. I'm an excellent teacher and have students constantly coming back to visit me (in person or through social media) and tell me what they still remember from my class. For my first eight years of teaching I only had a university teacher come in to observe me for my student teaching credit, the principals I worked for merely made up dates and gave me satisfactory ratings and I got no real guidance or feedback. In new york I've gotten nothing but positive evaluations until now. I'm fuming and can only imagine budget cuts are part of the issue. I've been teaching a while, my pay is way higher than the new kids they keep hiring. Doesn't it make sense that getting rid of us experienced teachers gives the schools more money by replacing us with first years?

Moriah Untamed said...

It would be interesting to learn how many U-ratings have been given out since I started this blog back in 2007. The DOE and the UFT don't make the statistics available.

Even though I've retired--with pension and health benefits, by the way--my fears of losing them were based on ignorance of the UFT contract. However, I didn't retire willingly, and I had two years to go before I would have reached my targeted retirement age of 65. But I did hang in there as long as I could.

My advice to teachers with U-ratings. Hang in there. The longer you stay, the better your pension benefits, and the more savings you can put away in your TDA.

Don't believe them. It is not about you. It is about corporate greed.

Anonymous said...

I am an art teacher and I have only been teaching for five months...I received a unsatisfactory rating and as of last week a summons on my teacher performance. They used danielson to evaluate me which is a framework I was not aware of until I began teaching at this school. So far my school will be phased out next year and we have lost three teachers since I started. Nine teachers left before I arrived this year alone. I have not received much support from administration...just a book and a video about teaching and minimal constructive feedback sessions that lasted more than 5 minutes because everyone is always so busy. As a new teacher I am supposed to have a mentor..never got one...I try very hard to please both principals since I am split between the lower and upper schools I serve k-8 in two separate buildings, two separate classrooms to maintain. I feel as though i am being targeted without proper guidance. My rating was not made by the principal either...

Anonymous said...

Problems relating to either "unsatisfactory" or "ineffective" observation reports in NYC can be referred to Betsy Combier of and

Her email is:

She has helped many teachers over the years.