We had a QAT (Quality Assurance Team?) visit at school today, one of the many things in education that get assigned an acronym. They used to be SIP (School Improvement Plan) visits, but somebody thought we needed new letters.
You can tell a person with an elementary school background came up with some of this cra.... I mean useful stuff. We get "glows" and "grows" instead of "positives" and "negatives." Come on, people, we are grown-ups with college degrees, you don't have to be afraid of hurting our wittle feewings.
I was on a QAT team last year, and I had to do about 6 of these visits, mostly to elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. I won't say they are a complete waste of time, but I'm not sure they really serve their purpose. The school tells the QAT team what to look for when they come in, the members spend no more than 10 minutes in each classroom, and the school as a whole is judged on how well it performs the things it said it was going to do in the first place. If you really want to judge a school, show up unannounced on a Friday, maybe the Friday before the Georgia-Florida football game, and let 'er rip. No, these are planned and scheduled way in advance, and each school serves refreshments and provides a cozy spot for the team to gather and compile its data.
The people on the teams are nervous because they'd just as soon be back in their classrooms in their own schools and not among all these students who are the wrong size. The teachers being observed are nervous because they've been threatened (maybe literally, or maybe they just sense it) what will happen if the school gets a bad report.
Last year I was observing at the school where my next-door-neighbor teaches. It was her first year teaching, and although I wasn't assigned her classroom, I stuck my head in the door to say hello. I thought she was going to have apoplexy right there on the spot. She spoke to me politely, and to this day I'm sure she has no idea who that woman was. I can't help it if the only thing she ever sees me wearing out in the yard is a sweatshirt and my Navy sweatpants.
We got a "glowing" (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha) report today. The QAT team also said we had the best refreshments of any school they had been in. I'm sure there's some correlation. Why can't the other schools just figure THAT out?