As most teachers are having their Initial Planning Conference for this year with their assistant principals and many teachers were rated Effective last year, you should be entitled to only have to put up with two informal (15 minutes or more) observations this school year as a minimum. That's sufficient for the state and most sane administrators.
Observations can be a complete waste of time and except for newer teachers who need the feeback, observations rarely provide anything but a kind of going through the motions' dance routine where everyone plays the game. Since Advance came in as the new evaluation system in 2013, most teachers who are tenured do not have to put up with a full period formal observation with a pre-observation conference with the assistant principal unless they want one. That has changed for this school year.
The DOE has decided that all teachers who were rated Effective last year were less than effective the prior 2019-2020 school year. That was the year during the height of the pandemic in NY when the school year was interrupted in March and the teacher evaluation system was properly waived for the year as the system went to remote learning. Now as yet another punishment for tenured teachers, the DOE is adding a formal observation as a requirement for this year.
Let's look at the actual contractual language from the Memorandum of Agreement to see how the DOE is working around the spirit of the Contract by literally following the Contract. Please note that the current Contract that was agreed to by the UFT and DOE was settled in 2018 and still has not been reduced to a written Agreement three years later. All I have a link to is an MOA. The UFT and DOE had plenty of time before the pandemic to agree on language and put it out in writing in a Contract but apparently, they both had better things to do like harassing or not protecting teachers. I digress. Back to the main point, here is the language on observations for effective teachers with tenure:
Teachers that completed probation who received Effective as their final APPR rating in the previous year and in the year before that received a Highly Effective Effective and/or Satisfactory shall have a minimum of two observations that are used for evaluative purposes.
So the DOE is saying that the "year before" is 2019-20 so every teacher was less than effective or satisfactory that year when nobody was rated because of the COVID pandemic. That is a BS interpretation. No other way to put it. Tenured teachers rated effective and their assistant principals have a new burden of two extra meetings (pre and post-observation conferences) and a mandated full period observation.
This is my guess on how this happened:
DOE administrator calls Mike Sill: Effective tenured teachers should get one formal and three informal observations because nobody received a rating in the year before which was 2019-20
Sill response: That doesn't sound right so maybe you can cut it down to a formal and an informal so we can claim another retreat is a great union victory?
DOE administrator: Okay.
The UFT advice from one district representative is that although this violates the intent of the Contract, choose to have the formal observation in the spring as by then maybe we can resolve this.
Translation: If Mulgrew can suck up to probable new Mayor Eric Adams enough, perhaps we can persuade Adams to change this policy in January and go back to two informal's.
The UFT could be telling teachers that we don't accept this policy and we will fight it at the State Education Commissioner's level or at the Public Employees Relations Board as no teacher had a chance to be rated in 2019-20 so the 2018-19 ratings should stand as the "year before" because that was the previous full school year. No teacher or assistant principal should be sanctioned with extra work because of pandemic conditions they could not prevent. My guess is the Council of Supervisors and Administrators might be okay with our objection as I don't believe most assistant principals want to be burdened with formal observations for effective, tenured teachers. The State accepts teacher ratings with two informal observations
Anyway, we warned back in 2018 that the way the DOE and UFT wording for the reduction in observations was inadequate.
A minimum of two observations for some teachers is a gain. It is better than this year’s minimum of four (informal) observations. However, it only impacts tenured people who are rated highly effective the prior year or effective the past two years. The teachers who need relief are the people rated ineffective who will now have a minimum of one additional observation for a total of five and many of the probationary teachers who are drowning in work. Their observations remain unchanged at a minimum of four. How about a maximum number of observations like they have in Buffalo and many other districts in NYS? How about agreeing with the DOE to jointly go up to Albany to attempt to enact legislation to rid New York of the whole stupid evaluation system where teachers are rated based on scores on invalid-unreliable student assessments and classroom observations from the awful cookie cutter Danielson Framework?