Teacher Evaluation

All of us who have worked for any amount of time have gone through changes in evaluation processes on the job.

I can remember when NCR required us to have at least one “needs improvement” category per person.  We all squawked about the indignity.  Many people struggled to come with anything meaningful to improve upon.  Many were upset when they received a rating on any one element that said “needs improvement”.  Often as managers we were grasping at straws to come up with a “needs improvement” rating on anything for some people.

As I think about it now, I realize that the idea is a good one, but the execution was bad.  We all need to improve at something.  No matter how good we are at work, there is something that needs to be better.  No one is perfect.  The best are always trying to get better.

Teachers are going through a radical change in the evaluation process.  From my experience at two schools. the evaluation process has been virtually non-existent and simply a formality.  I’ll never forget my first teacher evaluation.  I was rated the best score you could get on something like 40 elements.  How could that be?  I KNEW I was not that great.  I just started.  I had zero training.  But I was never observed.  No one every sat in my room and watched me conduct a class.  So how else could they rate me except to say I was great? Since I have been at Mississinawa, I have been observed a couple of times.  Think about that.  I spend 180 days in a class room and am formally evaluated once and informally evaluated for a few minutes a couple of times.  Is that the way to judge my performance?

At our recent teacher meeting, our principal said something to the effect of “I know none of you will be getting a needs improvement (Rating)”.  Hmmm.  All of us are that great?  Then why doesn’t it show up in ACT scores?  Why don’t we ever have any merit scholars? Why don’t our students do too well at college? I think this thinking is indicative of our school.  We accept whatever we have in teachers.  We don’t want to rock the boat for fear of alienating someone or angering the union.  Perhaps it is the (logical) fear of rating someone as “needing improvement” on some factor that they have been doing the same way for 10 years and have been told every year in the past that they are “meeting or exceeding standards”.  Try to explain that one.  “Last year you were really good, but because we now evaluate people, I have to say you need improvement”.

But if we really want to serve our students better, we must ALL improve.  That needs to be the thinking that goes into our evaluation process.  It’s not, “you are worse than last year”.  It isn’t even “I need to do this because the state tells me I have to”.  It needs to be “we want to get better at serving our students.  That starts with evaluating with some rigor and truly looking at how we can improve.  Needing improvement does not necessarily mean you are deficient.  It means we want to get better.”  Who can logically argue with that?

I doubt that is how it will be implemented.  Will it work? I don’t know.  But we need to implement something that is logical and successful.


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