My name is Lucas Calhoun and I currently have the pleasure of teaching, sponsoring a club, and coaching at North Daviess Jr./Sr. High School. This rural, yet 21st century focused school in Odon, IN is in the processing of transitioning to a new teacher evaluation model in fall 2013. While there is uncertainty about its parameters, most will agree that a evaluation system that allows wide-ranging data collection as well as allowing for evidence of a teacher’s emotional connection to the classroom is good thing. This post will not cover my thoughts on the evaluation system itself, as many more decorated educators have discussed before me. Rather, I want to discuss the data-management system our school is using to administer this new evaluation model; Standard for Success (SFS).
Throughout this school year, administrators and volunteering staff members have undergone a pilot. Our primary clearinghouse for this new evaluation has been Standard for Success (SFS). The ‘normal’ teaching day consists of an ever-growing series of ‘to-do’ items. At first, upon hearing about SFS, I was concerned about its ease-of-use and how long it would take me to plant my information for the administrators to harvest. Once logged in, my fears were erased and I am saying this because SFS stands on its own merits. Having used other data-management systems in the New Tech Network™, my own work history at the higher-education level, and our school’s primary program, I can tell when a service is going to be a hassle or blend into my daily routine.
At the outset, SFS is simple to operate. I use simple in a refreshing way and not in a demeaning way because once logged-in, you can easily navigate what you need to do with your most recent or upcoming evaluation. Ads and challenging navigation paths are non-existence and I am quite thankful. Adding artifacts is easy, and I would advise for current safe-keeping and future clarity that you save all documents as PDF files. Additionally, preparing for an evaluation is simple because SFS utilizes our evaluation language, so as you click and read confusion is minimal. I know what is expected of me from the evaluation system and I can see directly what my evaluators are seeking in me as they conduct a short-visit or a longer evaluation.
In regards to logging into SFS after an evaluation, a few things pop out as noteworthy. The first is the speed at which follow-up can occur. For my various SFS-used evaluations, I have received commentary-laden feedback in no more than 24-hours. This is astounding because the situation is fresh in my mind and I am not waiting a long time for feedback. I also know where I am succeeding and where I need improvement. In a digital culture where speed is crucial, my cravings for instant-results are met with SFS. Another positive note for SFS is the transparency in the execution of an evaluation. While I may have alluded to this in my previous point, more needs to be said. With my evaluator utilizing a laptop/tablet for my evaluation, he/she is giving what amounts to real-time feedback during my evaluation. This helps me improve, but also takes out what could potentially be a bland evaluation because the evaluator must justify his/her selections.
I try every day to be the best instructor I can be. Naturally I push myself, but having SFS via the new evaluation model is allowing me to see areas-of-growth and areas where I standout. I embrace this process and I hope many others do the same. SFS is not an educational fix-all or pretending to be something it is not. Rather, for me, Standard for Success stands out because it brings teachers and evaluators to the table as equal partners of growth. Ultimately, this will benefit our most important clients, the students.
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About the Guest Blogger
Lucas Calhoun is a teacher at North Daviess Jr./Sr. High School after having taught at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, the University of Maine, and the University of Maryland-College Park. Yuu can follow him on Twitter @Calhounified