COVID-19 has changed how we provide education this year. One of the first questions the administration at our school received was:
“How will teacher evaluations be impacted and on what will they be based?”
This is an area that was not of immediate concern to administrators due to the rapid nature of closing the school. As the weeks continue to go by and we continue to deliver education from home, it is something that is now rising to the top of the “to be considered” list for many districts.
There is an expectation that all teachers will continue to provide education remotely until further notice. Our school utilizes Canvas as our learning management system, so initially and prior to Spring Break, this platform seemed to be a way to provide assignments and to keep everyone up to speed.
However, as the outbreak of the virus continued to grow, the likelihood of returning to our building diminished. Our next rapid response was to add the element of live online learning and we quickly added that opportunity through the Zoom platform for all teachers.
We then provided online professional development in a two-hour online meeting during Spring Break to a very eager staff.
The first week of live online learning started out tremendously positive only for our system to be brutally hacked on the second and subsequent days.
We responded with quick fixes that still did not provide the security we needed for our students and teachers. So, now in the 3rd week of distance learning, our teachers continue to the provide online learning with pre-recorded classes and assignments, even to the dismay of our students and teachers.
That initial connectivity seemed vital in this new situation in which we find ourselves navigating. We are flying the plane while we are building it!
Now, it is time to begin to consider how we will evaluate our teachers and principals amid these constantly changing conditions. It is apparent that our teachers and principals are doing more and learning more in a very short time than we have ever requested of them.
They are dedicated to providing the best they can give and stretched in many ways in doing so.
We have found that some teachers are juggling teaching online and fostering an educational environment at home for their own children.
Others are still not as confident and remain a bit rudimentary in their online delivery and some are knocking it out of the park.
Evaluating teachers and principals on the rubric we have adopted doesn’t quite match up with what we are doing now.
However, if we were only to evaluate them on their diligence to continue to connect and to provide for their students in this time of crisis, they would all be considered “highly effective”.
We have come up with some thoughts to assist our staff as they make this rapid transition to the delivery of education. It is more important than ever to provide a high level of support as we continue to find our way.
- Principals will give immediate feedback as they visit classrooms online to support teachers through walk-throughs and informal observations only.
- Principals will only mark the competencies that can be marked within the observable domains for teachers. Support will be given in all areas.
- Lesson plans are observed with posted weekly objectives and assignments and competencies can be marked in those domains.
- Teachers are encouraged to upload artifacts of their online learning lessons as evidence of their practice.
- No teacher or principal will be evaluated lower than their previous evaluations and new teachers will be given much latitude for growth.
- SMART Goals will not be evaluated as no end of the year data will be collected.
- If a school grade is not given by the state, then the school grade will not be part of the evaluation. (There is no guidance yet on this from the state as of this writing, so this remains to be considered as it is possible the state will maintain the school grade from the previous year.)
Much like New Jersey, DCS is literally “stopping the clock” where evaluation is concerned. However, observations, walk-throughs and even more support for teachers and principals will continue at DCS.
Our principals now have less distraction to the supporting role they have always had and so their learning curve and focus toward the evaluation process has changed exponentially.
As we rely heavily on our eLearning Specialist and the Technology Department of our school to support all of these new online efforts, we have been pleasantly amazed at the level of professionalism, dedication and active support the teachers have of each other and within all areas of online distance learning.
I believe the nature of evaluation of teachers and principals in this time of crisis will change to an even more positive exercise of providing support and feedback to assist in the growth of all our educators.
As hard as this time in our history is, we are finding the rainbows each day with our students, teachers and principals.
We have a lot for which to be grateful.
Special thanks from the SFS Team to our Guest Author, Dr. Kelly Andrews.
Dr. Kelly Andrews is a retired principal from Indiana who served as President of IASP in 2015. Dr. Andrews’ published research on the evaluation of principals in Indiana was presented at the American Educational Research Association in Washington DC in 2016. She has also served as an adjunct professor in Educational Leadership.
Dr. Andrews currently serves as the Executive Director of Doctors Charter School of Miami Shores, Florida. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools.