A good system of teacher evaluation
must answer four questions: How good is
good enough? Good enough at what?
How do we know? and Who should decide?
This is so much better!” commented Carla, a 4th grade teacher, following an evalu- ation conference with her supervisor: Before, I had no idea what my principal was looking for—I had to be a mind reader!
So I just played it safe, taught a familiar lesson,
one I knew would go well—but did the process
improve my teaching? Not at all! In my old school,
the principal just came in with a checklist, but we
never really talked. But this time, we had a great
conversation about how to help my students want
to write. It really made me think. As a result, I’ve
got a new approach: I’m going to engage some students around the things they’re passionate about
and have them try to convince their classmates
about the value of such interests.
Carla’s statement provides an insight into how we
might improve teacher evaluation to better foster
conditions for both teacher and student learning.
Let’s consider the deficiencies of traditional systems.
n Outmoded evaluative criteria, usually in the
form of checklists.
n Simplistic evaluative comments, such as “needs
improvement,” “satisfactory,” and “outstanding”
without any consistency as to what those words
mean. Many teachers end up being rated at the
highest level on every item, with no guidance as to
where they might focus their improvement efforts.