Monday, September 15, 2014

Evaluating the Evaluations

           In the last few years, my district has adopted a teacher evaluation format. Its purpose is to standardize teacher evaluations (really, is this possible? They are still subjective) across the district and to improve teacher “awareness” (I think??) of what they teach and why. We have created learning goals or targets for every assignment, written rubrics to monitor student progress, created standardized assessments, and worked toward achieving all the design elements and questions within the evaluation. Although teacher evaluations have become more rigorous, they do expect teachers to achieve a higher standard of performance. 
            One area in the evaluation process that forces teachers to raise their level of thoughtfulness and planning is incorporating learning goals. Having learning targets that follow the Common Core standards has been the hardest thing for me to create. However, being compelled to refine these goals has been a good practice in forcing me to evaluate everything I teach to determine the value of the assignment. I need to work on this area, however. Because of the nature of my school, I don’t lecture or have class attention. In fact, I don’t have one class. I usually have four or more going on at once. With this the case, it’s hard for me to remind students of the learning target for that assignment when they often move to the next lesson without notifying me.
            Another difficulty with the learning targets is that I’m constantly revising my curriculum. Every block (six per school year), I tweak what I do. That means changing the learning targets associated with the lesson. Although taxing for teachers, keeping the learning target in mind when creating the lesson is beneficial. It makes me be focused in what I teach and alerts students to the purpose of the lesson. 
            When I think about all the things I’m evaluated on, and there’s a lot of them, learning targets is one area I need to improve. It’s good for kids. And if I see value in added work helping students, then I’m all in. Good teachers stay student-centered even when asked to do more. Especially when asked to do more. Remember, the better I become as a teacher, the more effective I am reaching kids. To me, that’s what it’s all about.

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