122. One of our retired UniServ field reps gave us this idea. . .
It's no surprise that members are wary of the new evaluation system being implemented by the NJ Department of Education (DOE). Add to that the DOE's new mandate for Student Growth Objectives (SGOs) as well as any number of new initiatives that superintendents, principals, and department supervisors are implementing, and members become understandably stressed because their jobs have changed so drastically this year. Adding to this is the simple fact that it's unclear if the (SGOs) will have any improvement upon students' learning. . .
One idea to combat the stress and hear members' concerns is to have them participate in a fun activity that could be called "we're still here." Here's what our retired field rep. recommends:
"At an association meeting, members could be encouraged to brainstorm all the reforms and initiatives that they have endured within their careers. It might surprise newer members to know that every couple of years a new model comes into favor, lasts for a couple of years, and is replaced by the district or the DOE. It might also be interesting (and empowering) to discover if, years ago, the district implemented something that works and is still in effect. This activity may also help to keep track initiatives that superintendents often refer to as 'pilot programs' that sometimes seem to be 'piloted' for years and years.
This activity may also empower members to voice their concerns about a certain reform, mandate, program, etc. to the administration, who can begin passing these concerns on in the hopes that they may eventually reach DOE staff.
This activity could be completed by encouraging members to list initiatives, mandates, reforms, etc., and a facilitator could post them on a screen for all to see.
This may help your members to realize that reforms come and go, but the members themselves continue to remain effective in their jobs because they hold true to their principles. Members may realize that their support of each other is what carries them through. It's our members who know what real student success looks like, and they'll outlast the latest round of reforms and fads because they are the ultimate experts."
PS: this activity refers to the new evaluation system and SGOs model. Learn more about the new evaluation system here: http://www.njea.org/issues-and-political-action/evaluation
Here's an interesting NJEA blog entry on the topic of SGOs: http://www.njea.org/blogs/2013/april/the-student-growth-conundrum-part-ii
PSS: before implementing this idea, it would be prudent to run it by your NJEA UniServ field representative for suggestions and advice.