I came across this entry about professor evaluations a few days ago and have been thinking how it K-12 teachers are evaluated. While college professor’s only feedback comes from student evaluations, K-12 teachers face a different monster.
I get evaluated every two years. Mostly, an evaluation entails a couple pre-arranged class observations by a vice principal or principal and then a meeting to discuss the results. On a day-to-day basis, I feel good about my teaching abilities, but when being evaluated, I schedule the visits for my best lessons. The lessons that I know will spark a great discussion or the PowerPoint with the coolest multimedia elements. Then I go to the meeting and the VP goes on and on about what an impact on students I make on a daily basis. The evaluation is filed and we both feel good.
I like to think that I’m a good teacher, but if I’m doing this, aren’t the bad ones doing this too? I know of a teacher who is no longer at my school who did the same lesson for his evaluation, every two years for 20 years! It is a superficial look at what goes on in the classroom. Students and parents are almost never included in the evaluation process (at least in my district) – not that they should be a defining part of a teacher evaluation. I have seen through other blogs, the media, and even examples within my own district of teachers who aren’t good teachers, but get good evals. Then when some larger event occurs, they pull the personnel file and find years of perfect evaluations – making due process significantly more difficult. I do like that my union will fight for me, but it will fight for anyone – regardless of the offense.
It is obvious the system is flawed. Is merit pay the answer? Linking standardized test scores to pay? Eliminating tenure? My governor thinks the answer includes those items. My union doesn’t. Arnold is going way too far and getting into territory that will drive teachers from the profession and scare away prospective teachers. However, I’m glad that I’m at a good school and on track to finally teach honors classes.