Apr 21

Teacher Evaluation? No.


By Msfitzgibbonsaz (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

What is the purpose of teacher evaluation? The corporate, privatization, voucher, pseudo-reform movement would have us believe teacher evaluation is to get rid of those horrible teachers who ruined our lives so that we can keep only the best teachers, jam their classes with 100’s of students, and give them monetary incentives to teach those large classes how to pass standardized tests.

What if the purpose was to help teachers do their job better? What if the purpose was to help teachers better serve the students they are working with each and every year? Having one administrator alone be responsible for that is a daunting task. Administrators are also overworked so teacher growth and development should be a team effort.

So let’s begin by changing Teacher Evaluation to Teacher Growth Plan or Teacher Growth Team. That right there changes the dynamic and the focus to improving student learning and to making education relevant to today’s learners as opposed to “evaluating” teachers. Begin by developing or making use of building Professional Learning Communities or PLCs to be part of every teacher’s professional development. Then come up with a plan to use those PLC teams to observe each other and determine what the team needs to best serve their students!

In my experience, working with a Science PLC has helped me improve my Science instruction for my students more than attending different workshops throughout the school year. Now add to that PLC team a Personal Learning Network or PLN using a tool like Twitter and you have the formula for a powerful professional development experience for all teachers!

Our middle school Science and Math teams are working on putting together an application for an innovative professional development or PD project for next year. It’s being offered by Washington STEM and the purpose is to provide teachers the ability to do what a majority says would be powerful PD but that they rarely if ever get to do:

observe models of instruction,
practice what we observe and/or want to do in our classrooms,
have the opportunity for real time feedback,
get peer coaching (better if it’s an outside source such as your school’s service district)

Let’s put our focus where it belongs, providing the best learning opportunities and experiences for today’s learners.

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