As schools start back up teacher evaluation is a topic that is left off most of the radars of most communities. We are starting a school year where every teacher and administrator are “beginning.” There is no historical data to use for guidance. There is no previous situation to learn from and base our decisions. The health and safety of staff and students are a priority. We ended last year in “crisis” education.
Another priority should be teacher evaluation: what no one is talking about. In the past decade there has been a reduction in students entering the education prep programs and now the current pandemic has caused many educators to retire, leave the profession, or delay entering the profession for health concerns or the shear fact that they do not know how to teach or lead in the current environment. A recent article in the Hechinger Report mentions an Education Week survey where a 1/3 of the teachers may exit the field due to Covid-19 concerns.
Teacher Evaluation As A Growth Process
Dr. Whitlock in her book, Teacher Evaluation as a Growth Process and in a recent blog post she mentions how teacher evaluations used to be an exercise of compliance where a teacher would save their “best” lesson for evaluation day. The administrator would come in, watch the lesson, and leave a post-it note on the desk or in the teacher’s mailbox saying “good job” unless they were documenting to fire the teachers. We must not get back to this method of giving generic feedback to teachers and principal evaluators in our current climate. Yes, it will be easy to say “good job” on a virtual lesson or during socially distanced small group lesson but teachers want genuine feedback to get better. They want constructive criticism on how they can get better. Educators enter the profession because they have a passion for helping students be successful. They care about their craft and want to get better.
Millennials Crave Feedback
With a large number of millennials staffing the educator roles of teacher or building leadership it is critical the teacher evaluation and feedback be focused on growth and coaching opportunity. This generation craves feedback. They are not satisfied with a post-it note or email saying good job. They want to know how they can do better. Schools and states may pause the “formal” feedback requirement this year but it is critical to continue to give the feedback. Regardless of the format for instruction, our educators need feedback to grow. When going through this process it is not a process of seeing how well they are using technology, but it should be about looking for strong strategies of instruction.
Culture of Feedback
As educational leaders you are setting the stage for success for teachers and students. By intentionally making feedback and professional growth for yourself and your staff a priority when it would be easy to “pause” it —— you are contributing to a culture where every employee feels valued.