Improve teacher evaluation systems with these ideas
If any disconnect exists between pedagogy and performance, it’s often found in teacher evaluation systems.
Ineffective and outdated teacher appraisal systems still exist despite research that points to best evaluation practices based on research. Even after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which spurred school reform, some districts lag in adopting effective teacher evaluation systems.
These teacher evaluations systems often fail in guiding teachers to adopt reflective practices that will improve student achievement. The reasons include reliance on a single classroom visit to assess skill, a do-what-I-say approach to professional development, and a top-down approach to assessing quality teaching.
In some cases, administrator-driven evaluations seem rushed, almost as though the evaluator is trying to beat a deadline rather than improve practice.
Teachers deserve appraisal systems designed to help them increase their capacity to improve student performance.
Rather than continue evaluative practices that are woefully out of sync with today’s teaching, we can improve our current teacher evaluation systems with ideas like these.
Keep the instruments simple but not simplistic
Teacher evaluation systems should be efficient to use, but not so oversimplified that teacher behavior can be assessed with a checklist. Simple rubrics and frameworks can prioritize instructional expectations and provide meaningful feedback in bite-sized chunks. This practice makes reflection and correction manageable and actionable.
Think formative, not summative
Making a single, end-of-year evaluation is like taking a single snapshot and hoping to catch something good in the photo.
When development is the key focus of an evaluation system, teachers respond more favorably to evaluative measures. Specifically, teachers who receive multiple evaluations throughout the year are more likely to pinpoint areas of need and work on improving them.
Think of formative evaluations as a way to set goals and check off milestones throughout the school year.
Create feedback loops
Reflective practice improves teaching, but only if it’s meaningful. Because they are the ones in the classroom, teachers must have a say in what their evaluation instruments look like. They need continuous feedback about their performance not only from administrators but also from their peers. Finally, they also need an opportunity to compare the data they collect and reflect on their practice. Then they can determine their next steps in professional development.
Hire instructional coaches
An instructional coach can help teachers move forward in meeting their professional goals.
The coach serves as a non-partisan sounding board who encourages teachers and helps them break out of old behaviors that weren’t productive. As teachers reflect on their classroom practices, the instructional coach assists with finding best practices and encourages them to try new techniques in the classroom.
Improving teacher evaluation systems and making them more effective is a good idea.
Effective changes to teacher evaluation systems have produced positive feedback from teachers and teachers’ unions. They find that appraisal instruments focused on improving skill rather than serving as a “gotcha” provide valuable information that teachers can put to use right away.
There’s no better time to improve the quality of teacher evaluation systems. Let’s think of the appraisal process as one marked with stepping stones that help teachers select a path in their journey toward quality instruction.