Teacher Evaluations

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October 23, 2011 by k. liz

This topic has been coming up quite a bit lately. I have been discussing this with my mom, back in Pennsylvania, as well as in my Bilingual Multicultural Education class. This seems to be such a hotly debated topic right now, and rightly so. 

This article points out that teachers are finding it hard to be great teachers now, because the evaluation methods have made everyone mediocre. My mom and I were discussing what should actually be taken into account when evaluating a teacher. If you read the article I shared above, you can see that some teachers are being evaluated on such things as how they pass out the papers in a class. Is that really the objective that you want your teachers striving for? Are you going to give a plaque for the best paper-passer-outer in your school? That is demeaning to the profession of educators.

In my opinion, you ought only to evaluate people based on the objectives you want them to accomplish at the end of their time of service. Evaluation shouldn’t be so much a looking at what is going on this minute, but how does this minute fit into the bigger scheme of the goals of education.

Here are my thoughts on what evaluation should be.

First of all, I think that it is important to think about who we are actually working for. And there are three answers:

1. The School Board:
They are the ones that do the hiring and therefore set the standards and curriculum and benchmarks for the school. Therefore, the teachers should be evaluated by the school on general things such as being on time, following the dress code, if testing is deemed important, then there should be an aspect of testing that plays into a teachers evaluation, but not just test scores as they come back from the graders. The School Board should be able to evaluate teachers like any company evaluates any employee.
2. The Parents:
They are essentially paying for the teachers, so we really ought to answer to them as well. However, as I am noticing, and as I can further imagine, there are a lot of parents out there who are not educated in what is actually best for their child, and if it were a democracy (where parents voted in the teachers that they wanted) then some really amazing teachers would be left out because the parents would nitpick on little things, or perhaps would view their disciplinarianism as a negative aspect of education. So, I think that there should be some way for parents to give feedback about the teachers. That could maybe be more in a monthly survey or something. This could be by having parents meet together and talk with the school administration about how they perceive things are going for their child. The parents should be involved in goal-setting at the beginning of the year, and then working together with the teachers throughout the year to observe whether or not those goals are (realistically) being met.
3. The Students: 
That’s who we spend the overwhelming majority of the time with and who we are essentially serving. So, even kindergartners should have a say in whether or not their teacher is good. Now, that is obviously not going to account for 100% of the evaluation, but students should be talked to and asked whether they like their teacher, what they are learning, how they feel, etc.
In summary, I think that rather than looking at the test scores of a teachers’ class, administration should be keeping a file on teachers that culminate the thoughts of all the people who actually matter. I know that it would be nice if evaluation were a quick score thing, but it can’t be. We are realizing that about students, so we should realize it about teachers too. I personally would rather have a teacher that instilled a love of learning in my child than one who could teach her all the right test-taking skills. So, in my personal opinion, that’s what I think. Maybe all of those things are given a score ranking, and you still end up with a number – but we need to be really careful to not just institutionalize things and make them all score based because character and emotion and personality don’t always translate well into scores.
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