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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

teacher evaluation_growth_processDr. 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

teacher evaluation people_development

Research studies support that teachers who receive consistent feedback are less likely to leave the profession and less likely to change schools.  Administrators need to find the time and supports to assist teachers in building out instructional plans that can be provided in a synchronous or asynchronous setting. Regardless of where we are in creating a feedback rich culture in our schools with teacher evaluation, we do not want to discontinue feedback to teachers and regress in this mindset. .  Creating a culture of support, collaboration and trust will create opportunities to take risks in order to grow our practices and for instruction to be different.  Educators have the opportunity for risk taking in their instructional practice, moving off the norm, and innovating education as we know it.

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.

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