Administrators at LAUSD to Observe Classrooms
There has been a change as to how administrators are screening classrooms since Miramonte and the recent incidents of child abuse with one happening again last week at De La Torre Elementary School. In the past, administrators rarely went on rounds or dropped in on classrooms. In sixteen years, I had only one principal drop in on me as I was a new substitute at her school. Once I passed muster, she said, “She is one of our regulars.” Things have changed.
Apparently, administrators have been told to monitor classroom activity much more closely since these child-abuse incidents. They are dropping in routinely now, and making daily rounds. That means potential for more write ups for both teachers and substitutes.
I was at a Staff Development meeting at an elementary school a week ago Tuesday, and the principal announced to staff that he, the A P, and the coordinator would be making routine rounds or drop ins into the classrooms of all teachers. I had never experienced a principal dropping in my classroom at this school before. During the week I was there, an administrator came in every day. He or she did a simple observation and walked in the front door, stayed a few minutes and waked out to the next classroom through the adjoining door. They are routinely walking in on all classrooms whether it is a substitute or a regular teacher.
I was at another elementary school this week and at the Tuesday Staff Development, school safety was discussed. I have been a regular at this elementary school also, and the principal had never come in. He came in both Thursday and Friday. Thursday, he came in to talk about “school safety” and also spoke of “inappropriate” touching of student to student and adult to student and told students if anything inappropriate occurred to tell their teacher, or to tell administration. He also came in Friday because he noticed when he was in the day before, some students got out of their seats, some did not raise their hands to ask a question or to answer but just blurted. The principal was concerned. One studentwent through his back pack for water as the principal was speaking. The child told the principal their teacher lets them. One started to eat a pear. (Their teacher allows them to do so as long as it is a fruit or a vegetable since they exercise and jog.)
So, the principal came back in the morning the next day to observe while kids were doing chores, as homework monitors collecting homework, the overhead monitors turning the projector on, and there was a problem with it so they were being vocal. The breakfast monitors were serving breakfast. He told all to go back to their seats. He was not aware they were assigned to do these things and assumed they were out of their seats for no reason. He went over rules and said he would speak to their teacher. This could ne misconstrued.
This could fall under classroom management skills, and the the teacher or substitute could be written up. The principal said he would speak to the teacher. But, as a substitute, even if we are more firm or have stricter rules, and the kids are used to their teacher cutting more slack, we could be held accountable. I suggest substitutes go over the ground rules with the class as to your expectations since you could be held responsible. If the administrator talks to the teacher, and to protect himself, the teacher says it was the substitute’s lack of classroom management skills, substitutes need to protect themselves. I suggest you move the kids cards, change their colors, etc. and document all. The administrator will be walking through all classrooms and he will see the teacher in action too, so he or she should be able to judge classroom management skills.
Since administrators are being directed to be more watchful, and are dropping into the classrooms randomly to observe, it behooves all to be professional at all times. I would assume there could be more write ups just because of the frequency of random walk throughs.
So, be sure to observe the rules. Maintain good classroom management skills. Document all behavior issues. Walk the kids out at then end of the day.
Because of the recent incidents and lock downs, the procedure is not district wide as to locked doors or open doors. It is school site specific. Make sure you ask the school’s policy. At the one school, at Staff Development, the Principal said all doors were to be locked at all times. At the other school, the principal said doors were to be open at all times so they could do their walk throughs. You have to ask the teacher or the office administrator what the specific school policy is and if they have a doors locked or doors open. The one school said nothing on the window portion of the door. It is to be left totally visible.
Also know parents in low income areas are becoming more proactive. They are being helped by Parent Revolution and the Parent Trigger Law. They can and do go in and complain. So, how to balance it is important. Document all. I had a parent complain to me in Spanish that I had her daughter’s name on the “Did Not Do Homework List”. Well, she had not done her weekly homework packet for 2 weeks. It was half done. So, I told her I would mark it as half done. She left and said in broken English, she had to leave for a meeting, though she was a parent volunteer to serve the breakfast and help clean up. She may have gone to the office complain. I suggest err on what is right for the student. The child had not done her homework and what had been done looked like different writing, more adult. Document it.
Do not even touch a child on the shoulder. Avoid any contact at all. The only time it is apropriate to touch a child is to prevent an injury.
So, yes, there are more write ups and both teachers and substitutes are more vulnerable due to recent incidents and to district directives as to more frequent monitoring of classrooms and administrators walking through to observe.
Again, because of a few incidents, all teachers are feeling the consequences. I think it is the responsibility of the administrators to make rounds and to monitor randomly what is going on in the classrooms. It certainly is helpful and should help maintain the school as a safe place for children to learn. Hopefully, there will not be excessive over monitoring or write ups without merit. Students do need to be protected but innocent teachers also need to feel safe from unwarranted write ups. The walk-throughs are better than having security cameras which would invade the privacy of both the students and the teachers.
Central Calling Area Chapter Chair
HOR Voting Member