Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Key Questions to ensure Teacher Effectiveness

With all the discussion, frustration, stress, tension and anxiety circulating around teacher evaluation, sometimes it becomes helpful to remember that the key output for all of this angst is to have the best teachers working with students and supporting them effectively to achieve. Unfortunately, we have grown up as an educational society with diminished benchmarks for improvement of teacher effectiveness, and now as the calls for heightened awareness and more effective teacher evaluations are in front of us, we are shaken to the core of our foundation of educational practice.

In a wonderful book by Pamela Salazar, High Impact Leadership for High Impact Schools, five guiding questions are offered as key reminders of this work as schools, once again, take up the ever frustrating mantle of evaluating teachers.
  1. Do supervision practices support teacher growth and development? Or, are they "hit and run" paper trails that do little to improve method, pedagogy, or instruction?
  2. Are teachers challenged to examine assumptions about their work and rethink how it can be performed? Have teachers bought into peer evaluation or collegial observations to determine effectiveness?
  3. Do teachers use instruction that engages and motivates students?
  4. Have we created a climate of experimentation- an environment where teachers are willing to take risks, to try new things?
  5. Do we have supports in place for new and struggling teachers? Something other than a Teacher Improvement Plan?
Inspiring and dynamic school leaders need to find ways to transform the teacher evaluation process into an important professional development opportunity if for nothing more than to strengthen the profession. Instead of viewing the calls for higher benchmarks as a threat to leadership, view them as a call for raising the bar for student achievement.

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