My Instagram feed has been filled with fun, celebratory, #lastdayofschool posts today. They’re only outnumbered by the insane number of colorful, candy-colored, National Doughnut Day posts. Meanwhile, I’m over here crunching numbers for my SMARTR goal and definitely not eating doughnuts, f* you very much. Some of us still have a few weeks of school left, and some of us have egg allergies. Whatever. I hope you choke on your doughnut on your way to the beach.
Ok, not really, but I am feeling a little bitter. Did you read that part about the SMARTR goal? I’m basically in art teacher hell right now, trying to calculate the achievement of my students using math. [shudder]
Fun fact: I suck at completing things on time, returning emails, completing paperwork, and pretty much anything that involves the phone, a calendar or planning ahead. Which is why I find myself pulling my hair out trying to complete my SMARTR goal data and paperwork a week after it was due. I expect a scolding email from my assistant principal any day now.
I hate SMARTR goals. When they were first introduced in our schools, I cried. I’m not kidding. I had no idea what I was being asked to do, and I had even less of an idea of how to make it work for art. Thinking about it made my head buzz. Fast forward a few years to today, and I have a better idea of how to translate it to art, but not necessarily a better idea of how to make it work. But I understand that I have to set a goal to meet by the end of the year, and I understand that this goal has to be measured in percentages, and I understand that if I don’t meet this goal, I will need to come up with some sort of plan to do something that I don’t understand because I didn’t bother paying attention to this part because I always expected to meet my goal. It’s art, for crying out loud. How can I not meet my goal?
I didn’t meet my goal this year.
What’s worse, I missed meeting my goal by 3%. 3%! That’s like, one student. One student! So now I’m over here trying to decide if I’m going to go back through my data and fudge my numbers or create an imaginary student who achieved an exceptional amount this year. Hey, if presidential candidates can win elections this way, I should be able to achieve my SMARTR goal this way. In case my conscious wins out, and I end up submitting my real data, I’ve already gotten a head start on my plan for achieving my goal next year.
My Plan For Achieving My 2015-2016 SMARTR Goal
- Set the bar low. I mean, amazingly low.
Maybe I’m trying to measure too much. Maybe I’m expecting too much from my students. Next year, I’m setting the bar really low. Next year, I’ll measure student achievement by how many students are able to put their name on their work at the end of the year. 85% by the end of the year? That shouldn’t be too hard… um… on second thought… maybe not. I just remembered the insane frustration I felt last week when I discovered that not a single student in one of my second grade classes managed to put their name on their painting. Not a single student. Come to think of it, more students are capable of putting their name on their work at the beginning of the year than the end. I wonder what happens when your SMARTR goal percentages decrease throughout the year?
- Insist that students show up for class on snow days.
I’ll also expect them to skip all assemblies, concerts, field days, field trips, and yes, even SOLs so they can come to art class. You want to know why I didn’t meet my SMARTR goal this year, Principal? Maybe because the class that I chose for my SMARTR goal missed 20% of their art classes this year. 20%! Now there’s a percentage for you.
- Assign art homework.
Classroom teachers have SMARTR goals. Classroom teachers get to assign homework to ensure that student achievement is occurring. 2015-2016 will be the year of art homework! No, I don’t care about your dance class, Chinese lesson or the math homework you have. You need to analyze these five pieces of artwork and label the illusion of depth techniques used in each one. How else can I be sure you’re actually learning and achieving anything in my art class, huh?
- Ask my principal to write an achievable SMARTR goal for me.
Watch as panic and confusion overtakes him.
Seriously though, one of the most frustrating things about being an art teacher, or a “specialist,” if you will, is the discrepancy between being told we’re all equals, and the reality of not being treated as an equal. We’re expected to meet all of the same requirements as classroom teachers, attend all the same workshops and meetings, meet all the same standards for student achievement, and yet, we aren’t given the same time or resources as classroom teachers.
It was a requirement in my school this year that all teachers’ SMARTR goals be math related. Um, except for you specialists, because, um, you’re different. All teachers are expected to attend staff meetings and CLT meetings, even you specialists, because all teachers are equal. All teachers are required to learn the information being presented during this workshop, even you specialists, because, again, we’re all equal, therefore we’ll have subs available to cover classrooms during the workshops so all teachers can attend one of the sessions, except for you specialists, the subs aren’t available for you, so you’ll have to get the information on your own time.
So in conclusion, equal means different, but also the same, and if you don’t have your SMARTR goal in by the close of business on the Friday following a span of two months in which you only saw your SMARTR goal class twice and have yet to have time to deliver the post-assessment within the given time frame, that’s going to be a problem.
Now excuse me while I go and finish inputting the data for the new student who just joined the fourth grade class into the spreadsheet. Do you think John Smith is too obvious a name?