What a breath of fresh air! What a novel idea! Switching from the old teacher evaluation system to the new one being used in Indiana has empowered all stakeholders to focus on student learning. The teacher evaluations of the past, most of which were not taken seriously, focused largely in terms of the credentials that teachers had earned rather than on the results of student learning.
The evaluations of old utilized a checklist system that centered on teacher behaviors that often did not focus on quality instruction or student learning. The majority, if not all, of the evaluation focused mostly on professional attributes. Another significant problem was that most evaluation systems were punitive in nature. The evaluation indicated whether a teacher was ‘good enough’ to continue teaching. In most cases, if a teacher received a poor evaluation, nothing was done to assist the teacher in improving his/her teaching performance.
With the new evaluation system in Indiana, a major, proactive component has been included. The new law provides for a Professional Growth Plan process. This is a win/win situation. The Professional Growth Plan (PGP) enables the building administrator to collaborate with the teacher and develop a detailed plan for improvement. Instead of informing teachers that they are ineffective and hoping that they know how to improve, the new Plan empowers the principal to provide assistance in the areas needing improvement.
Professional Growth Plans enhance continuous improvement and professional growth based on criteria found in the teacher evaluation instrument. The PGP supports and assists with individual growth of a teacher–it is tailored to each individual teacher’s needs based on the indicators found in the evaluation instrument. The PGP includes professional collaboration and goal setting which ultimately improves professional teaching and student learning.
Since the Growth Plan is based on numerous observations, data, goals, and collaboration, it is a very positive system to assist in teacher improvement. The Plan centers around research based objectives and strategies that ultimately improve student learning. The Principal and teacher work together and collaborate to improve the quality of teaching.
The proactive nature of the Plan makes this a win for the teacher, a win for the principal, and definitely a win for the students. The notion of working together for the betterment of student learning is one that is being embraced in Indiana schools. We now have a process that centers on quality instruction, effective student learning and professional teacher growth, rather than an evaluation system with dubious results. Indiana’s new Professional Growth Plan Process is truly a win/win for everyone!
Dr. Kirk Freeman is a professional consultant who has inspired thousands nationwide, presenting workshops, keynote speeches, and coaching on a variety of topics that enable administrators, teachers, parents, coaches, and other leaders to achieve the PERFECT process. His past roles include military officer, educator, coach, school administrator, and college professor, accounting for more than 25 years in leadership roles. Through his experiences and expertise, Kirk has created an uncommonly effective process to achieve excellence–to include assisting schools in planning and implementing RtI, RISE, and other effective school reforms. Dr. Freeman is a SFS Team Member.
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