Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Revisiting Teacher Evaluations

I have been thinking for a long time about teacher evaluations and how effective they are - especially for a very seasoned teacher.  Each year the experienced teacher prepares for both a formal and informal evaluation - not so very time consuming for the teacher, since she should mostly be doing what she normally does, but at least a few hours of extra work for the administrator.  To me, it  seems more like jumping through hoops.  So... I have been thinking about how seasoned teachers could be evaluated in a more effective way.

It seems to me that once an experienced teacher has reached a level of  "highly performing/ proficient," for maybe three years in a row, that the administrator might be wasting her time in evaluating that teacher every single year.  The administrator's time might be better spent with less seasoned teachers.  That's not to say that an experienced teacher no longer has anything to learn, but my experience has been that when a teacher reaches that point of "master teacher" that she basically is designing her own professional development.  She has figured out what she needs and goes about finding her own way through on-line resources, books, etc. to meet her need.  Administrators find it time consuming because they want the evaluation to reflect all that they think that teacher has become. Of course, teachers never  reach a point where they have nothing more to learn or a time when they should never be evaluated again, but maybe the administrator only needs to see the teacher once every three years - or five years.  Maybe instead of the administrator seeing the teacher every year, the annual evaluation could include a reflection by the seasoned teacher of what she has learned since the last evaluation, how her teaching has changed, and what she plans for the following year.

In the meantime, what could be beneficial to the seasoned teacher to help her continue to improve her practice?  Seasoned teachers still need feedback, but how could a seasoned teacher get the feedback in another way?  I would propose that master teachers in this category do a demo teach each year instead of an administrator observation.  She would teach a lesson for a group of her colleagues that would include all the preparation materials that she would gather for an administrator's evaluation and a debrief with the group.   The seasoned teacher would have the opportunity to explain her thinking and why she made the decisions that she did during the lesson, how she will evaluate the effectiveness of the lesson, etc., using a format similar to National Boards for reflecting on a lesson.  Observers would have the time to make noticings of positive things they saw and to ask questions about things that they still wonder about.  Since teachers at this level are usually providing their own self-reflection for their own growth, I think going through this process would be much more valuable.  This seems like a win-win all the way around. The teacher goes through her own growth cycle.  The observers see a master teacher and have the opportunity to questions and reflect, and the administrator is able to spend her time with teachers in her building that are needier of her supervision.

Anybody else interested in a change?.    

1 comment:

Mrs. Patricia Wallace said...

Wow. Although I agree that your suggestion might be more valuable, it would also probably be the most stressful for me. And yet at the same time, the comments, both the glows and grows, from respected colleagues are very valuable.