Checklist to Absurdity

Imagine being evaluated on your health and fitness from the following checklist.

Sneakers Gatorade Dumbbells Sports Bra
Athletic Shorts Smelly Socks Ipod Elliptical machine
Shake Weight P90X DVD Gym Bag Workout Glove
Yoga mat Scale Pedometer Ab roller
Power Bars Kettle bell Subway Sandwich

Sure, many of you have these things in your homes or use them at various points in your workouts.  You may wonder how some of them made the list, but for the most part, you think you should score well.  Just remember, that to be rated healthy and fit, you must have ALL of these.  Yes, all of them.

Not only that, but they must be easily discernable to someone who walks into your home for the evaluation.  So if the evaluator does not see your sports bra, or smell your stinky socks, then you can’t be fit.   No P90X DVD or Gatorade in your fridge, means you aren’t healthy.  You use the kettle bell and yoga mat at the gym, sorry, no credit there.  You don’t own a shake weight?  Then obviously you are not serious about being healthy.

Now, also remember, having these items is enough.  No evidence of use is required.  So the ab roller collecting dust.  Just fine.  The elliptical machine used to hang your laundry.  Full credit.  The month old subway sandwich?  That counts too.  Even your old broken Ipod is all you need to be considered healthy.  Just because you don’t or wouldn’t use these things doesn’t mean you don’t get credit for being healthy and fit.  With this list, the entire country will be fit and if not, obviously, YOU are doing something incorrectly, the system has no fault.

Sounds absurd right?  Well, guess what?  This is how my wife’s classroom is evaluated in terms of education.  Shocking, I know.  But, the checklist to education will obviously solve all problems.

Here are some of the elements that are on the check list

Lesson reflects planning Objectives clear & posted Essential questions posted Lesson builds on prior info Tests appropriate for ability level
Assessments appropriate for content Evidence of short and long term planning Evidence of planning across grade Lesson aligned with pacing guide Students engaged in multiple ways
Real world connections  evident Teacher use wide range of instruction Materials varied and appropriate Instruction promotes high order thinking Concepts modeled prior to practice
Evidence of student mastery Varied assesments used Class-room student centered Room arranged to be conducive to learning Bulletin boards, concept wall, word wall attractive and current
Quality student work displayed Behavior system posted Expectation enforced, fairly, consistently Routine established Noise level appropriate
Transitions smooth Teacher monitors classroom Disruptions handled quickly and effectively

When you look at the list. It doesn’t seem so bad.  Surely, a teacher should have most of these things addressed.  At a minimum, they should think about these things right?   But, how would you feel if this is what you were evaluated on?  Anything short of complete would mean that you were inadequate.  Oh, did I mention that the evaluation usually last less than 10 minutes, with the majority being between 4-6 minutes.  How exactly can someone evaluate all these elements in 4-6 minutes?  One word: Checklists.

Room is quiet when evaluator walks in, check.  Teacher looking over lesson plan, no check for monitoring classroom.  Teacher stops to answer question during transition, not smooth, no check.  Word wall up, attractive, but unused, still check.   Essential question posted, check.  Do the kids know what an essential question is? No, but that isn’t on the checklist.  Teacher explains concept in a different way to gain understanding, no check for alignment with others in grade level.  Child has meltdown, screams at teacher, who separates them from the rest of class.  Does not write down infraction or issue formal warning, so no check for expectation enforced.  Check for having system posted, though.  No check for alignment with pacing, because now behind on schedule, also no check for handling disruption quickly or efficiently.

Students not learning, not applicable, not on checklist.  Teacher sanity, not on checklist.   Failing both the students and the teacher, check.

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