"Anal-Retentive" Principal Cries
in Fulton County?
(All names have been redacted except for those of
Dr. Trotter, Mr. Yawn, Attorney Ramay, Dr. Freud,
 Woody Allen, and Superintendent Wilson.)

March 19, 2007




Brandon Tinkle, Principal

Forest Lawn Middle School

345 Old Cemetery RD

Fulton County, GA 



Principal Tinkle:


     I was involved in a discussion with MACE’s Communications Director, Mr. Gunny Yawn, the other day about the term “anal-retentive.”  He had used it to describe a particular high school administrator with whom he had been dealing.  Mr. Yawn and I were discussing its meaning and derivation when the latest packet of documents from Ms. Jocelyn Crew was faxed to the MACE office.  This caused Mr. Yawn to remember that, during the last school year, you had sent me that letter that Ms. Crew had written to you and copied to me without any written explanation as to why you were sending it to me.  At the conclusion of that letter, dated April 10, 2006, Ms. Crew had written:  “I await your timely, written response to my effort at resolution of a complaint at its lowest administrative level.”  To date, Ms. Crew tells me that you have yet to respond to that letter.  Mr. Yawn also remembered that, toward the end of the last school year, MACE had engaged in a picket at Forest Lawn.  During that picket, you were photographed approaching the picket line, and, as was reported to MACE by one of Forest Lawn’s teachers, you were apparently in tears.  Mr. Yawn stated that he believed that these two events – your alleged crying because of the MACE picket and your sending to me Ms. Crew’s letter without any explanation – are evidence of you being “anal-retentive.” 


     Wikipedia, the user-contributed on-line encyclopedia, defines “anal-retentive” as being “used in reference to a person seen as overly worried about small details of form, style and etiquette; who is uptight or distressed over ordinarily minor problems, and unable to adopt a philosophical attitude toward mistakes.”  The term derives from the work of Sigmund Freud who “proposed that a child’s development moves through several stages of psychosexual development.”  The first stage, the oral, exhibits itself through the child’s pre-occupation with the mouth; the second stage, the anal, through the child’s derivation of “pleasure from bowel movements.”  Wikipedia explains further:  “The retentive character takes pleasure in holding in the feces.  Freud believed that conflicts with parents and delays during toilet training can cause a child’s development to stop at the anal stage, the personality then becoming fixated on anal control, which later manifests itself as a compulsive concern with order and cleanliness.”  Wikipedia, however, remarks that the common usage of the term “anal-retentive” no longer exists within the realm of psychosexual development, that its “metaphorical usage has become so commonplace that the original meaning of the phrase is often overlooked by those using it.”  Hence, The American Heritage Dictionary defines “anal-retentive” as indicative of “personality traits, such as meticulousness, avarice, and obstinacy, originating in habits, attitudes, or values associated with infantile pleasure in retention of feces.”  Further on-line explanation of this commonplace metaphorical use of “anal-retentive” comes from randomhouse.com, which defines “anal-retentive” this way:  “A person interrupted at the late stage of the anal development is an anal retentive, and this is thought to result in adult personality or behavioral traits that include orderliness, rigidity, obstinacy, obsession with rules, meticulousness, and ungenerousness.”  In considering your past actions toward Ms. Crew and the current documents that you have promulgated about Ms. Crew’s teaching, I would agree with Mr. Yawn that “anal-retentive” is an apt descriptor for you as an administrator; however, the use that I cite deals exclusively with the metaphorical definition of “anal-retentive.”  I make no reference to any clinical meaning for it and attribute no clinical diagnosis of “anal-retentive” in my references of the term to your actions as an administrator.


     Toward the beginning of this school year, on August 31, 2006, you produced a document called “FOREST LAWN MIDDLE SCHOOL CONTINUING DIAGNOSTIC OBSERVATION FOR FOCUS/GROWTH” [sic] that you indicated is “Observation # [sic] 1 for  [sic] 06-07[.]”  For “Teaching Task I: Provides Instruction,” you write:  “Your lesson should have a clear focus based on a standard.  You should always look at the element(s) stated under the standard, understand what it is asking you to teach the students, and focus on the acquisition level that the standard and specific element requires [sic].  Remember, most standards and elements were written in behavioral terms using Bloom’s now famous taxonomy. [sic] Always look very carefully at the verb in the statement.  It determines the level at which you must teach your students.”  This is quite anal, especially the reference to “Bloom’s now famous taxonomy,” which, I point out, has really been discredited over the years.  An over-reliance on Bloom’s taxonomy causes a teacher to ignore large swathes of content in favor of an emphasis on hands-on projects.  Also, the manner in which you write makes me think that you are writing to someone you think to be simple-minded.  Ms. Crew has been teaching for a number of years and knows at what level her students should be taught.  You indicate as much in your detailing of what she had written on her chalkboard, which included, according to your document, a “Standard,” an “Element,” “Homework,” and “Themes of Geography.”  The “Standard” that you indicate as being on the board is, “Students will describe various aspects of geography.”  You then list the various “Themes of Geography” that Ms. Crew wrote for her students to know, including “latitude,” “longitude,” “location,” and “parallels.” 


     You, however, fault Ms. Crew because, in your apparent anal mode of thinking, her “Element” was not specifically delineated in the “Themes.”  You write:  “You must know what key geographic features the element is requiring you to teach your students. You are being asked to teach the students at the beginning level here: identify. [sic]  You will be asked to do more later [sic] with this, but for now you are to make sure your students can identify or recognize key geographic features on the continent of Africa.  You nor [sic] the students stated or otherwise demonstrated knowledge of the key geographic features.”  How can the students demonstrate “knowledge of the key geographic features” prior to Ms. Crew teaching them the “key geographic features, and why should Ms. Crew demonstrate her “knowledge of the key geographic features” in front of the class when it would not further the lesson that she is presenting?  You note that also written on her chalkboard was this phrase:  “‘The five themes of geography, human environment, interaction and movement, regions and places, the world and Africa [sic]’”  You state that Ms. Crew instructed the students to copy “‘Themes of Geography’ from the board[,]” but you criticize Ms. Crew for this not relating to her “Element,” “Student will identify key geographic features in Africa.”  As I understand it, Ms. Crew was dealing with “the five themes of geography” and, once the students had internalized that information, was going to piggy-back the “key geographic features in Africa” onto that information.  That appears to be sound pedagogically – building upon prior knowledge, but in your apparent anal-retentive state, your rigid orderliness and obsession with Bloom’s taxonomy prevents you from being able to accede to the worth of another method of teaching, thus indicating an apparent ungenerous aspect of your nature.


     You then detail an activity that Ms. Crew had her students complete.  You call it “‘Lesson 3 [sic] Creative Strategies.’”  You write:  “The grading key (that should have been provided by you) was to be used as a checklist [sic] for students.  It was also to be used by the teacher to grade oral presentations (rubric). [sic]”  Again, an administrator fixated in an anal stage would require that a teacher follow a set sequence each and every time a lesson is done, but this is not necessarily a good thing.  It could become tiresome to the students who could tune out when they hear the same procedure being presented for different lessons.  Ms. Crew, as a seasoned teacher, decided in this instance to follow a different tact; however, she assures me that she did explain to her students what she wanted them to do with the activity and did explain to them how they would be evaluated on it.  Did you just not hear her say these things because you did not want to hear them, or because of your apparent anal state, you did not perceive them as such because Ms. Crew did not follow the procedure that you prefer?  You write:  “The key to this activity is illustration.   [sic]  The students should have been able to identify the geographic features before  [sic] they were required to illustrate them.  While you used magazines to help students find the features to place on the collage, you were attempting to have the students to illustrate using the collage, but your students could not first identify what they were attempting to illustrate.  That is why you had to answer so many questions from each student asking you whether a picture they selected was ‘right’ or ‘okay.’ [sic]  The element was clear, [sic] your lesson, strategy, and procedures were not.”  In the meticulous, ordered mind of an apparent anal-retentive, I would guess that you are unable to perceive that Ms. Crew was using the collage activity to have the students acquire the basic terminology that was at the heart of her lesson.  Ms. Crew tells me that she was not concerned about her students asking “so many questions.”  In fact, Ms. Crew believes, and I concur, that the students asking “so many questions” shows that they were actively involved in her lesson and that her “strategy” and “procedures” were working and, therefore, “clear.” 


     Then, in your apparent attempt to depict Ms. Crew’s lesson as poor, you denigrate her students on the sly.  You write:  “You attempted to cover too much in one lesson; therefore, your lesson was not broken into chunks or pieces that allowed you to build until you have developed the students through teacher-centered or student-centered strategies.  Since you teach exceptional education students, you must truly develop your skills in this area.  Many of the students you teach are low [sic] level learners.  You must [sic] develop them.”  Perhaps your line of reasoning is clear to you, but it is not to me.  You state that “exceptional education students” are mostly “low [sic] level,” which implies that you think they are dumb.  If a teacher truly believes that “exceptional education students” are, for the most part, dumb, then that could translate into a self-fulfilling prophecy in which the teacher has very low expectations for his/her “exceptional education students.”  Someone fixated in the anal stage metaphorically might think that way – a student is classified as part of “exceptional education” and, therefore, is not intelligent – because that would be the rigid point of view from an ungenerous soul; however, all “exceptional education students” are not “low [sic] level.”  Some are placed in “exceptional education” not because of their score on an IQ test, but because of their behavior.  I have known and taught a number of “exceptional education students” who were quite bright, but, for whatever reason, could not sit still and behave in a regular education class.  Mr. Yawn provided me an example of this.  When he was a teacher of the gifted, an area of “exceptional education,” he had a fourth grade male student who had also been identified as “behavior disordered.”  Plus, your emphasis on “chunks or pieces” of lessons hearkens back to the anal stage.  Perhaps you have failed to recognize that what you delineated that Ms. Crew had written on the board – the “Standard,” “the “Element,” “Homework,” and “Themes of Geography” – are “chunks or pieces” of the lesson that Ms. Crew was about to present on that day and the next.  Through these “chunks or pieces,” Ms. Crew was building for transfer and was, thus, using a “teacher-centered” strategy to “develop” her “low [sic] level learners.” 


     In “Teaching Task II: Assesses and Encourages Student Progress,” you write few comments, which would normally indicate a successful area for a teacher, but from someone apparently stuck in a metaphorical anal stage, you obstinately provide a record of what you contend that Ms. Crew did wrong.  You write:  “You engaged the students through the use of the magazines to create a collage.  However [sic], the students only cut out pictures and put them on the collage.  You did not scaffold enough nor [sic] did you otherwise develop your students enough to classify or categorize the pictures into the right theme they were attempting to illustrate.”  Again, perhaps you know what you mean, but I cannot fathom your meaning.  When did “scaffold” become an educationally-related verb?  Did you acquire it from Bloom’s taxonomy?  I have already indicated how the magazine activity generated enthusiasm among the students as evidenced through their “many questions,” but you seem to be so metaphorically anal that you cannot understand that the activity was part of the means by which Ms. Crew was presenting the information to her students.  You noted that her students are “exceptional education” and “low [sic] level.”  Why, then, can you not comprehend that the method by which Ms. Crew was endeavoring to have her students grasp the geographical concepts was making the collage?  Through use of the pictures, the students’ efforts at classification and categorization would assist them in their internalization of the concepts.  You seem to want to put the cart before the horse here, but that is what I would expect from an apparent anal-retentive type.  Note the apparent anal nature of these comments that you wrote:  “You asked the students to read the procedure, which they attempted to do.  Then you referred them to a poster on the back wall from which you read.  The poster stated the correct five themes of geography.  The students sat quietly [sic] but continued, by that time, cutting pictures and facing forward.  One student turned and appeared to respond to your comments. [sic] The students continued cutting and pasting pictures the entire period with you moving from the boys’ to the girls’ group attempting to monitor [my italics].”  First, I posit that your word choices that I have italicized underscore what I have been saying about your apparent anal nature.  Your rigidity and meticulous orderliness appear to prevent you from being able to peer beyond the box in which you have placed yourself.  You use the verb “attempt” in a somewhat contemptuous manner, implying that, in the first instance, that the students might be making an attempt to attend to Ms. Crew’s comments but were unable, probably because they are “low [sic] level,” and, in the second instance, that her attempt at monitoring their progress was just that, an attempt that was fruitless.  This is an indication of your apparent preconceived notion that both Ms. Crew and her students are “low [sic] level” and, as such, underscores my belief that you are metaphorically anally fixated.


     Second, only an anal-retentive type would actually believe that a person has to look at a speaker in order to listen to or to hear what the speaker is saying.  As has been pointed out, the students were actively involved with the activity.  Ms. Crew, probably because of her desire to provide you with something that you would like to see her do as a teacher, used the “poster on the back wall” as an educational aid.  (Why it was necessary to note that it was “on the back wall” escapes me, but does serve to emphasize your apparently metaphorical anal state of mind.)  Third, your comment that Ms. Crew “asked the students to read the procedure” negates your earlier criticism that her “strategy” and “procedures” were not “clear.”  If the students read the “procedure” and you heard them read it, then, clearly, Ms. Crew made an effort for her students to have a “clear” understanding of what they were going to be doing during the lesson.  Just because you are apparently so rigid and meticulous should not cause Ms. Crew to be rated negatively.  All teachers do not teach alike, and all students do not learn alike.  Only an anal type of administrator would expect each and every teacher to teach each and every student in exactly the same manner each and every day.  That would be a textbook example of an metaphorical anal-retentive type. 


     In “Teaching Task III: Manages the Learning Environment,” you write:  “Your students were quiet and in order.  Your session, however, went ten minutes over the time limit [sic] and you were unable to assess your students to determine the level at which they acquired any of the intended learning.  Improvement is needed in managing your time and assessing your students based on this lesson.  Your students were well managed in this classroom for this lesson.”  What “time limit” did Ms. Crew go “over”?  Your self-imposed one?  Also, how can you state so definitively that she was “unable to assess” the students “to determine the level at which they acquired any of the intended learning”?  Do you mean that a formal assessment should have been given to the students?  I would think that most educators, but perhaps not ones fixated in metaphorical anal states, would understand that all assessments are not formal.  As you point out, Ms. Crew was constantly engaged in informal assessment of the students’ learning through answering their “many questions” about what they were doing.  You also indicate that Ms. Crew walked from group to group “attempting to monitor.”  That is a clear example of assessment, as is the statement that you recorded that Ms. Crew stated to a student:  “When asked specifically by a student whether you would check his work, you stated [sic] ‘I will check the pictures you cut out[.]’”  This clearly indicates that the formal assessment for this activity was to be the collage itself.  Ms. Crew tells me that, because her students are, as you wrote, “exceptional education students,” she does not attempt to assess their knowledge every day formally.  Her students do not react well to constant formal assessments and respond better to informal ones, especially when Ms. Crew is actively engaged with the students during their production of classroom artifacts that she uses “to determine the level at which they acquired any of the intended learning.”  If you were not so apparently rigid in your approach to observing teachers, you might be able to discern alternate modes of assessment that work well in alternative educational settings.


     You conclude your “FOREST LAWN MIDDLE SCHOOL CONTINUING DIAGNOSTIC OBSERVATION FOR FOCUS/GROWTH” [sic] with commentary about “Lesson Planning.”  You write:  “Lesson planning is crucial to an effective lesson.  You do not state clearly what you will do and what the student will do.  Please change your planning to reflect clearly each participant’s task. [sic] If you plan with that kind of clarity, you can reflect and determine what you may want to change or have the students to do differently.”  At the beginning of this letter, I wrote how you included what Ms. Crew had written on the board for the students to see.  Recall that she had a “Standard,” an “Element,” “Homework,” and “Themes of Geography” written for the students to see as well as this prompt, “‘The five themes of geography, human environment, interaction and movement, regions and places, the world and Africa [sic]’”  This indicates that Ms. Crew planned her lesson and that she differentiated between what she would do and what the students would.  Just because she did not follow a paradigm that you apparently wanted her to follow does not mean that she is a poor teacher.  As you noted, her students are “exceptional education” ones and, in your estimation, “low [sic] level.”  Ms. Crew has interacted with these students and with this type of student for a long period of time.  Her professional decision to present her “session” in a particular way is based on her first-hand knowledge of these other “participants” in the lesson.  Plus, you write that her planning should “reflect clearly each participant’s task.”  Have you forgotten that each “exceptional education student” must have an IEP designed specially for him/her?  That is both State and federal law.  Ms. Crew is bound by the stipulations in each of her students’ IEP; therefore, by the very nature of her teaching position, she is constantly changing her lessons to meet the special needs of each of her students. 


     You harp on the concept of assessment:  “Always provide for some way of monitoring to see if the students actually learn what you teach.  Use mini [sic] checks and other authentic assessment measures to determine the level at which the students have acquired each  [sic] portion of your lesson. [sic] When necessary, you must differentiate your instruction. [sic] This, too, comes with focused and well thought-out planning.”  I have just discussed differentiation of instruction, which Ms. Crew does and is required to do by State and federal law, and I have also discussed how you noted that Ms. Crew did monitor her students by walking among the groups (something that you have apparently chosen to forget) and how all assessment does not have to be formal in nature, by which I mean, completed on paper.  You mention “authentic assessment measures” and cite “mini [sic] checks” as an example.  What does that mean?  Are you saying that Ms. Crew’s efforts at assessment – walking among the groups, answering questions from group members, evaluating the final product of group work – are inauthentic?  Again, what does that mean?  Does it mean that the informal methods of assessment in which Ms. Crew engaged are not true, or does it mean that they are copies of something else?  Perhaps you understand your meaning, but I would guess that you are alone in that understanding.


     You fault Ms. Crew for her “knowledge of the subject matter.”  You write:  “Please make sure that you have studied and prepared yourself academically to present a lesson to students.  You appear often confused and stay wedded to the book or notes; your speech pattern in front of students is choppy and incomplete; you make statements and simply move on to the next point or concept without appropriate examples, demonstrations, or explanations.  You do no [sic] present an overall broad or specific view that puts the concepts you are attempting to teach in context, order, or make [sic] logical sense of the lesson.”  Did you ever stop to consider that Ms. Crew’s body language is affected by your presence in her classroom?  You know that she has an issue with your evaluation of her teaching.  She wrote you that letter during the last school year explaining why she disagreed with an evaluation that you had completed about her teaching.  MACE picketed your school after you mailed a copy of that letter to me, even though Ms. Crew clearly indicated on the letter that she had copied it to me.  Of course she would be ill at ease with you there watching her because, as you have certainly shown, your evaluation of her teaching seems far from objective.  These comments that you write about her “knowledge of the subject matter” show a certain bias in that, for instance, you write that Ms. Crew did “no [sic] present an overall broad or specific view” of her lesson when, in fact, you anally cited all of what she had written on her board for the lesson.  On the board, as you indicated, was “an overall broad or specific view,” namely, “‘The five themes of geography, human environment, interaction and movement, regions and places, the world and Africa [sic]’”  It would appear that two opposing anal desires are competing within you in your evaluation of Ms. Crew.  One desire, which is the pure anal intent of producing a meticulous record of Ms. Crew’s lesson, has you attempting to note every nuance of her teaching.  The other is the apparent anal aspect of the administrative template that you seem to overlay on Ms. Crew’s teaching without considering that she might be making use of a template that is equally of merit.  You, however, obfuscate this issue with the notion that perhaps Ms. Crew does not know her subject matter.  You write:  “You have informed me that you are aCrew of your lack of subject matter knowledge in some areas[.]”  Of course Ms. Crew does not have an encyclopedic command of every geographic feature in Africa.  Do you?  Are you able to tell me without consulting an atlas how many countries abut the Nile?  What is the source of the Nile? What is the tallest mountain in Tanzania?  What is the lowest point south of Khartoum?  Do you even know what the capital of Swaziland is?  Because of the nature of the “exceptional education” classes that Ms. Crew teaches, she is required to present material about a wide variety of topics in a wide variety of subjects.  Rather than denigrate her for not possessing detailed knowledge about them all, you should praise her for endeavoring to gain enough knowledge with which to teach her students.  A metaphorical anal-retentive type would be so ungenerous.


     It comes as no surprise to me, then, when I read the latest evaluation that you have promulgated about Ms. Crew’s teaching.  On January 17, 2007, you completed a “STEP Observation Record” of her class, noting the “Focus of Lesson” as:  “The students will describe the major developments in China (SS 7H9).  Teacher also listed Q.C.C. #24 [sic]  Element: [bold in original]  Compare and contrast differences about past events, people, places, or situations and identify how they contribute to understanding the past.  The E. Q [sic]:  What are some major events in China’s history?”  What follows is just a repeat of what you did in the previous observation.  An anal-retentive type of administrator would be that consistent.  You mark Ms. Crew as “Needs Improvement” in all three areas of “Teaching Task I,” even anally marking both the “Teacher-Focused” and “Student-Focused” areas of “Content Development.”  Your comments in this section are quite telling.  You write:  Your instructional level was not appropriate for  [sic] your students. [sic] You told and gave students information [sic] and you told them to take notes. [sic] You provided them with a modified reading, but you did not, through teacher-centered nor [sic] student-centered strategies, develop the understanding of your students.  The written focus of your lesson was extremely broad and did not logically connect to what you attempted to present in class.  Your standard is clear; the element(s) [sic] you were to address, [sic] are clear in the curriculum; however, you addressed a topic that was historical in nature about China (The Great Wall) [sic] but it did not relate directly to the required standard and elements [sic] you attempted to teach.  A checklist was requested on your pre-planning form [sic] and you attached a checklist to your plan, but it did not relate to knowledge you or the students needed to know for the lesson.  Your checklist did relate to some of the skills you attempted to address. [sic] You did not connect or build for transfer your attempted lesson to the next piece or chunk that you planned to teach.” [bold in original]  You have packed a lot of negativity into these comments, and your ungenerous nature is apparent throughout.  First, how can you say that “The Great Wall” does “not relate directly to the required standard” when you state that the “Element” deals with “places” and that the “E.Q [sic]” asks about “major events in China’s history?”  Astronauts are able to discern “The Great Wall” from space; therefore, it is certainly a key place in China both geographically and historically.  The standard cliché about traveling to China is that every tourist must have his/her picture taken at “The Great Wall,” the longest man-made structure in the world.  Its erection was also historically significant in that it enabled the emperor who unified China to establish a definitive border for his empire, thus staking his claim to the territory and barring easy invasion by his enemies.  Of course it was an appropriate topic for inclusion in the lesson.  Ms. Crew writes:  “We discussed The Great Wall of China in the Georgia CRCT Coach Social Studies Grade 7 Book the previous day.  We revisited the transparencies and their responses.”  So, your assertion that Ms. Crew’s lesson “did not connect or build for transfer” also is wrong.


     Ms. Crew disagrees with all of your commentary for “Teaching Task I.”  She writes:  “My instructional level was appropriate for my students.  I have them a unit on The Great Wall of China.  I gave them a graphic organizer and the students came up with the answers and I told them to write the answers onto the graphic organizers.  I did tell the students to take notes as I put the information on the overhead using the graphic organizer.  These are special needs students who have difficulties spelling and processing information on paper.”  You should recall the nature of Ms. Crew’s students.  You termed them “low [sic] level” at the first of the year in your initial evaluation of Ms. Crew’s teaching.  It would appear that you have conveniently forgotten this so that you apparently could impose your anal paradigm of rigid expectation for Ms. Crew’s teaching.  This apparent metaphorical anal attitude toward Ms. Crew’s instruction of her class continued in your marking of her as “Needs Improvement” in two areas of “Teaching Task II,” “Monitoring Progress” and “Responding to Student Performance.”  You write, and the boldface type is in your original:  You promoted engagement about the Great Wall of China, but your engagement did not directly relate to the standard.  Be aCrew that your exceptional education students are not likely to ‘take notes’ if you do not structure their notetaking [sic] with a graphic organizer. [sic] Your use of the concept map was very appropriate; but again, it did not directly relate to the standard.  You moved from group to group or from student to student monitoring whether they were busy, but you did not stop to check for their level of understanding.  While you responded appropriately to most students when they asked a question, you responded most inappropriately and completely inaccurately when pronouncing many of the words from the reading.  You also incorrectly listed the definition of the word ‘immense’ and required your students to copy it incorrectly.  I have noted and circled the number of words you pronounced incorrectly.”  Did you just not see the graphic organizer that Ms. Crew distributed to her students and that they subsequently used throughout the lesson?  It was on red construction paper, red having been chosen because of its symbolic nature for China’s communist government.  Also, are you unable because of your apparent metaphorical anal nature to see beyond your preconceived notion as to the relation of a lesson’s content to its standard?  Ms. Crew writes:  “The written focus of lesson was not broad and I did clearly make the connection to the students.  The lesson consisted of Catch a Clue, Concept Map, Word Warm-Up, The Story, Comprehension Questions, Sharpen Your Skills, Get Logical/Jeopardy Game, and Great Wall of Facts: China.”  Not only does this indicate that Ms. Crew had a clear focus and, thus, had spent some time organizing her lesson into the “chunks or pieces” of which you are apparently so enamored, but that she had made every effort to differentiate her instruction for the varying levels of the “exceptional education students” with whom she was interacting. 


     I must ask you, however, to explain your expertise in matters of pronunciation and definition.  You denigrate Ms. Crew for allegedly mispronouncing “many of the words from the reading.”  I note that the reading deals with China and that I, possessed of both an Ed.D. and a J.D., would find it troublesome to pronounce words relating to China or to the Chinese language.  Also, as I make an educated guess that your college degrees are not in Chinese history or language, how can you be so certain that Ms. Crew mispronounced them?  I like how you indicated that you “noted and circled the number of words” that Ms. Crew allegedly mispronounced.  That is exactly what a metaphorical anal-retentive type of evaluator would do.  It shows meticulousness and obsession with rules, in this case rules for pronunciation, as well as the ungenerous nature of you as an administrator.  Did you stop to consider how this simple act of unkindness could affect Ms. Crew’s esteem, or do you even care?  As you have noted before, you consider Ms. Crew’s students to be “low [sic] level.”  With that in mind, do you think that they would have any inkling of her alleged mispronunciation or, for that matter, her alleged incorrect definition of the word “immense”?  Even if she had committed these errors, I posit that their creation occurred because of her anxiety about your presence in her classroom.  She writes:  “Most observations last only twenty minutes, but mine lasted half of a period (2nd) and the entire next period (3rd).”  I do not believe that you were interested in producing an unbiased “STEP Observation Record.”  I believe that you wanted to create a negative document with much anal-retentive information so as to justify the possible removal of Ms. Crew as a teacher from Forest Lawn.  Plus, it is hypocritical to cast aspersions about Ms. Crew’s alleged poor use of language when your use of Standard Written English leaves much to be desired, especially for a school leader. 


     In “Teaching Task III,” you cite Ms. Crew as “Needs Improvement” in the area of “Use of Time.”  You write, and the boldface type is in the original:  “You attempted to do too much in one lesson.  It is very important that your lesson flows smoothly and you transition [sic] from one learning activity to the next with ease and logical connection; however, it is not necessary to try to teach everything in one lesson.  If your lesson had been broken into chunks [sic] you would not have run out of time.  You never had the opportunity to assess the knowledge gained from the lesson by the students due to time.Thus [sic], you did not use time wisely.  The physical setting of your classroom was appropriate to learn social studies.   [sic] You addressed all inappropriate behaviors [sic], including the attempt by two students to sleep during class.  You mentioned in the previous evaluation that you thought that Ms. Crew “attempted to do too much in one lesson.”  I believe that this results from your apparent biased view about Ms. Crew’s students being “low [sic] level.”  Just because you apparently think Ms. Crew’s “exceptional education students” are unintelligent does not mean Ms. Crew shares that belief.  If these students were to ascertain this as what their teacher thinks about them, it could have a chilling self-fulfilling outcome.  Treat them as if they are stupid; they act stupidly.  I like Ms. Crew’s approach better, and I understand why she ran out of time for the planned lesson.  You were in the room.  You fault her for “try[ing] to teach everything in one lesson,” but if she were doing this, it is because she was trying to jump through your evaluative hoops.  You have sent contradictory messages, even in this evaluation.  You faulted her previously for “not stop[ping] to check for their level of understanding,” meaning that you wanted her to stop at each student’s desk to ascertain whether he/she had learned that particular bit of information.  If Ms. Crew did that for each “chunk or piece” of her lesson, she would not have much time in a period to present too many “chunks or pieces.” 


     Ms. Crew also made available for me a Professional Development Plan (PDP) on which you placed her on March 30, 2006.  I will not go through it in the detail that I analyzed the two observations; however, I will state that I find it ludicrous that you would fault Ms. Crew as you have in those two observations and then require her to spend such an inordinate amount of her out-of-classroom time completing all the activities specified on the PDP.  Ms. Crew should be spending her time, as you have anally pointed out, ensuring that she understands the various content areas that she is required to teach to her “low [sic] level” students.  Just looking at the PDP causes me eye strain, and I wonder how any but a metaphorically anal mind could have created such a document.  (I include it with this letter.)  For instance, note how the first “Specific Objective for Improvement” – “Improve by developing your knowledge of standards, elements, major concepts, big ideals, and enduring understandings in middle grades science and social studies; [sic]” – becomes broken into “a,” “b,” and “c” in “Activities and Timelines” and “Criteria for Measurement of Progress.”  Perhaps you know what these three sub-points are, but I have no idea.  There appears only to be one aspect for the first “Specific Objective for Improvement,” and you list it as, “Improve by developing your knowledge.”  You then provide five areas of this “knowledge” for two content areas.  In this meticulous delineation of the first “Specific Objective for Improvement,” I contend that your apparent metaphorical anal-retentive nature has gotten the better of your reasoning.  I would also point out that “big ideals” and “enduring understandings,” while they might be educational catch-phrases for a particular curriculum, really sound stupid.  “Big ideas” and “enduring truths” might be better catch-phrases, but they might not pass your apparent metaphorical anal judgment as appropriate educational jargon.  (As another example of this weird disjunction between the “Specific Objectives for Improvement” and subsequent sections of the PDP, I have noted that for the first “Specific Objective for Improvement,” you did not delineate the sub-points that you included in subsequent sections of the PDP, but for the fourth “Specific Objective for Improvement,” you delineated two sub-points that you subsequently never mentioned.)


     All I ask of you is that you treat Ms. Crew with professional respect and courtesy.  I would encourage you to refrain from your apparent imposition of preconceived, metaphorical anal-retentive notions of how you want classroom instruction to go and allow yourself to see how other points-of-view deserve equal billing in a school.  All classes and all students and all teachers are not the same.  Learning styles and teaching styles vary by individual, and the particular type of students whom Ms. Crew teaches, those you term “low [sic] level,” need even more heightened differentiation of learning, which Ms. Crew endeavors to present.  As for my many references to the term “anal-retentive,” I return to the definition provided at randomhouse.com:  “Despite its origin in psychoanalytic theory, anal [sic] is not in broad use, [sic] and is sometimes even considered to be a slang term.  Example:  ‘I’ve got to see a picture exactly from the start to the finish, ‘cause I’m anal’ (Woody Allen, Annie Hall).”  While I have not tried with any reference in this letter to the term “anal-retentive” as it relates to you as an administrator to make any point about your psychosocial/psychosexual nature – I make no clinical diagnosis about your mental state in this letter – I would suggest that it might be worthwhile for you to consider what “anal-retentive” means and whether you believe it might be an apt descriptor for the behavior that you have manifested toward Ms. Crew.






                                                               John R. A. Trotter, Ed.D.,J.D.





Copy:  Jocelyn Crew, Teacher

          J. Anderson Ramay, Jr., Esq., MACE

          James Wilson, Superintendent

          Members, Board of Education


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