Ga-what? This is an acronym that is being tossed around in every classroom in my district. What’s it being used for, you may ask? Why, teacher evaluation, of course.
I am not opposed to teacher evaluation. I teach with my door open and am completely fine with any colleague or administrator coming in. I do my job. I have a plan each and every day. My classroom has kids learning, working, asking questions and generally enjoying themselves. It’s a friendly environment where we sometimes have conversations about life intermixed with our math topic of the day.
So back to this GANAG thing… There is a form that is being used in each school to measure how good of a teacher we all are. Here’s what GANAG stands for:
Goal: Set the learning goal/benchmark or objective.
Access: Access students’ prior knowledge building engagement through establishing immediate relevancy; a “hook” that is a short introduction to the lesson.
New Information: Acquire new information – declarative and/or procedural.
Apply: Apply a thinking skill or use the knowledge in the new situation. Opportunity for feedback provided.
Generalize: Generalize what has been taught.
For now they are only concerned that every teacher in the district (yes, all 3000+ of us) has implemented the first G. How do they measure this? We all have to have standards, overarching questions and guiding questions posted in the room. Yes, I’m a good teacher if I have all of this crap stuff posted on my walls.
This is all fine and dandy if you teach the same class every period. But if you have multiple preps and travel to a different room, you’re spending all of this extra time on stuff that I don’t think the kids really care about. The guiding question is good. The first page of my flipchart always has the title of the section of the book and the objectives have been turned into guiding questions. During the lesson, I refer to the questions and after I’m done presenting my stuff, we go back to the original questions and talk about them.
Standards? Yes, we need to know the standards that we’re teaching, but they have changed each year lately and they certainly aren’t in kid-friendly language. They’re long and trying to post them all in your room is ridiculous. It’s not like you can get a font big enough (and printed out) for kids to read from their desks. And there’s no better answer to the question; “Why do we have to learn this?” than, “the state says so.” That certainly will hook them into the lesson.
To complicate matters even more… My school is so full this year that every room is used every period of the day. We have 34 teachers that travel to other rooms at least one period of the day, if not all of them. If you’re traveling to a room in your subject area, chances are that your standards will be posted in that room. But what if you teach English and you’re in a Social Studies room? Ugh.
With my new technology I thought that putting the guiding questions on the first slide of my flipchart would solve the problem. I make several of these presentations at a time. I plug-in the computer and it’s all set. But what if a district person comes to observe me and they missed the first slide? No guiding question is posted. Shame on me. I could be obnoxious and use the ticker tape feature with the guiding question and annoy the heck out of my students. But I respect them too much to deliberately bug them like that.
So even though I feel like I am actually presenting more focused and cohesive lessons by using the guiding questions (and already doing the whole GANAG thing), I’ll probably get my wrist slapped because they are not posted. Part of me wants to be defiant to prove how stupid they are being. But I’m not quite sure how to make that point.