Teacher Evaluations

    Okay, so my most recent blog post was on being positive and happy and spreading the joy. Well, I’m going to break my own “rule” and be nasty and negative. I hate (yes, I said hate) “Walk-Through" evaluations.  What reminded me of the dreaded "Walk-Through"? The comments that I am reading in the teacher groups that I belong to. Teachers making comments about their evaluations. Formal. Informal. Planned. Unplanned. And ….. Walk-through.  Ugh! 

I understand the necessity of evaluations. I think we should be evaluated.  But, I fail to understand how a 2-5 minute Walk-Through can tell an administrator (or worse, a colleague who collects the data for the administrator. And yes, there are districts that use this model) what and how you are delivering /facilitating a lesson. Especially when the evaluator comes into your room at the same time, every time.  By the end of the year, they will definitely know how you line your students up to go to specials, or take attendance, or how you register lunch preferences. But do they really know what is going on in your classroom?   Can they really determine how engaged your students are?  Do they understand the depth of the lesson or know what is the expected outcome?

To me the purpose of evaluations is eroded by the Walk-Through.  To say that this is a snap-shot of what you are doing is an overstatement. And then to take this ‘snap-shot’ and make evaluative assumptions on your level of engagement, your level of involvement with your students, the depth of knowledge of the lesson, your relationship with your students, and how you plan to assess student’s level of understanding is A Huge Overstatement. 

To say that I’ve been burned by these evaluations would be fair. One year, the various teachers assigned to this task, came to my room at the same time. Every time. Right after lunch.  We were still putting up lunch items and using the restroom. I was monitoring my students. My objectives were written on the board. Materials were out and ready to go. But, was any learning taking place? No. Was I  checking for understanding or assessing a skill? No.  I was taking care of necessary business so learning could take place.

These so-called assessments of my ability made me feel inadequate. It did not make me want to improve. (How can you improve restroom break?) It made me want to scream.  I was frustrated. And, as I am reading numerous posts by others, I am learning that some feel the same way I have felt. Others are relieved - almost joyful - that the torture of evaluations is over for the year.  Isn’t it sad that professionals are at the mercy of every new evaluative tool dreamed up by someone who has never monitored restroom break for 200 hormonal middle school students, or taken a lunch count of 30 hyper primary students, or escorted competitive elementary students to a dodge ball game. 

Teachers understand the importance of evaluations. Teachers even appreciate the feedback and constructive criticism offered by administrators as a result of spending quality time in their classroom and getting to know them professionally. Teachers welcome areas of opportunity. We love to hear about our strengths, and willingly discuss our weaknesses so that we can improve. If the truth were known, teachers are their own worst evaluator. Picking apart every lesson. Looking for a better way to teach and connect. Assessing what they need to improve. Always learning how to be a better teacher.  

Maybe it’s time that evaluations measured up to our standards.  

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