Observation and Evaluation

Teaching Walloon at Ochamps (the benevolent te...
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A two-piece post inspired by my own observation and write-up at my other site.

If your boss sent you a message and said, “I’m coming to observe your work next week for one hour. I want you to give me your plan for that hour and tell me exactly what you will be doing and what you expect your students to be doing.” Would you do something to get fired during that one hour?

Observations don’t work as an evaluation tool for teacher job retention. Just look at this statistic:

Eighty-four percent of Illinois’ school districts have never given any tenured teacher a bad job evaluation during an 11-year period.

If you think about it for a second there is an even more important reason teacher observations don’t work as a primary evaluation tool. Who can look a colleague in the eye and say, “you suck at your job and if you don’t improve in three to six months your going to be fired”?

I could show an incompetent the door today, but I don’t know about telling them they suck and then working in the same building for three months to observe them again. Then telling them they suck again so I can work with them again for months before finally observing them for a final time before they can be fired.

I think I would rather suffer with a bad teacher for a year and try to mitigate any damage they would do through supports such as para-professionals, and mentor teachers. Then try to convince someone else to take their job the next year.

Observations are not good teacher evaluation tools. They are much better as teacher improvement tools. Go back to the first example and try it again, but instead of evaluating someone’s job I start looking for ways to improve. What if your boss said, “Give me your best lesson. Tell me exactly what you want to happen and how you expect to achieve it. I’ll watch and take notes. Later we will examine the data and see if we can find areas of improvement.”

If the teacher is that bad he can be dismissed the way most other employees in America are dismissed, by being told he has to do so many unpleasant and tedious activities that he gives up and moves on of his own accord. Sure he will probably be a bad teacher somewhere else, but hopefully the next administrator will do the same and the teacher will quickly move on to some less important job, like hedge-fund manager.

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About dendari

I finished my program at JHU in 2011. If you have enjoyed my writing here please follow me at philosophywithoutahome.com.
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