Sunday, February 4, 2018

Teacher Evaluations Should Never Be About A Grade

Are we out of the line of fire yet?
 In the past two decades, educators have been in the line of fire from politicians, parents, tax payers and even administrators--and we are exhausted! We have weathered storms that described us as lazy and greedy, along with incompetent and irrelevant.

These disparaging assertions have borne new ways to evaluate teachers with expensive evaluation tools and programs to determine if teachers are truly making the cut. So what's the verdict? Not much has changed! Since the inception of new evaluations methods and tools, many claim that there is not much change, but that there are new hurdles to jump and hoops to go through.

Great teachers are still great!
Evaluation tools can assist in dialog about teacher performance between the administrator and the teacher, and that's a great thing, but is it genuine dialog that will result in meaningful change-- or just better observation scores? Great teachers do not rely on formal observations to deem them
proficient; they are constantly reflecting and seeking feedback from their students, colleagues and administrators without fear. They are modeling learning to their students everyday by adapting lesson plans, seeking innovative practices and welcoming new ideas from colleagues. Great teachers are not sitting down and mulling over their formal observation reports looking for ways to improve (sorry administrators!) They understand that these evaluations are part of the job and must be done, but do they really learn and grow from them? That depends!

                                    Meaningful Feedback and Trust
It's not about the grade, it's about the learning.This is the mantra in my classroom. I am constantly reminding my students that the grade should be an indicator of learning and level of proficiency. My students trust  that if they do not do well, we will remediate and re-assess.

Teacher evaluation should NEVER be punitive and always about giving feedback to help a teacher grow pedagogically. Grades and numbers muddy the water in the effects of teacher observations. The best evaluations are informal and void of number data; they are the meaningful conversations about what worked really well, discussing areas for improvements and suggestions of new ideas that are possible. These genuine conversations can only happen when mutual respect and trust has been established between supervisor and staff member, otherwise it  can be be a waste of time.

Feedback can carry a negative connotation, but shouldn't have to--it's all in the delivery! Be clear, honest and credible, and lead by example! Teacher evaluations are no different than student evaluations. The goals are the same: reflect, grow and reach for excellence!

We all need feedback, that's how we improve!-Bill Gates

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