Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Getting Off Task... Guilty!

Day 3 Prompt: "Discuss one “observation” area that you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation."
This prompt made me uncomfortable. Not completely sure why, but I believe it has to do with the tone I read this statement with. It made me think about teachers everywhere spending time, not with their teaching craft, lessons, or students, but with their worries about the next evaluation results. Be warned: I got off topic from this prompt (I hope this still counts as me staying on this 30-day challenge).
Teacher evaluations - necessary, but often misused or inaccurate. There are a wide variety of teacher evaluations that exist and they act as a significant influence on teacher life/performance/motivation. Three years ago, my teacher evaluation was a spreadsheet of numbers. Not numbers that measure my competence, use of technology, or teaching pedagogy, but numbers of my students' benchmark test scores. I was never seen as a teacher or a human, I was seen as a number generating machine. If you were a good machine with high numbers, you were ignored. If you were a poor machine with low numbers, you were excused. My teaching partner, a new teacher at the time, didn't make it past her first teacher evaluation - it was week 1. By week 2 I had a new partner.
When the CEO of the charter stepped onto campus, a silent alarm was triggered in the form of a group text among the teachers. It always read, "BIG EAGLE HAS LANDED." And it always instilled a fresh coat of fear and anxiety.
Not all teacher evals are created equally. Now I am visited so frequently by my admin that the students and I see it as part of a normal day. I am encouraged to act naturally and I am provided opportunities to create lessons that actually reach and engage my students. The eval comes in the form of a document, but it does not contain any student test scores. It contains a spectrum of development, a focus on progress, and a emphasis on teacher pedagogy and competence in multiple literacies. I feel like I am represented completely in my eval - strengths and areas of growth all included. My biggest goal for the year is to improve with my competence in technological literacies with my second graders. 
What would it be like if all teachers could experience valuable and insightful evaluations? 

1 comment:

  1. Dang. I love your critical eye - I'm once again reminded of how uncritical I am of directions or suggestions offered by "authorities". I didn't even think to question the question. I think this is may be a residual effect of colonial mentality on my part - going along to get along. "Happy" getting to be a cog in the machine you brought up. It might also have to do with my experience at my site. I've been lucky to work with supervisors and mentors who have made my evaluation process productive, you know? The big takeaway for me here is that while I may be great at "reading with", I need to improve my skills "reading against", particularly with texts and discourses from figures of authority. Even those figures I trust.