New Massachusetts DESE Educator Evaluation (Steve Guditus)

January is a busy month.  Cabin fever sets in, the pace of curriculum picks up, and we are at the halfway point of our journey.

As with anything new, there can be some growing pains and some grumbles - but the Massachusetts DESE's new educator evaluation system has provided an outstanding opportunity for me to have deep conversations about learning and teaching.  At first, the anxiety level of staff (both teachers and administrators) was high; as the nuts and bolts have been figured out, we have been able to focus on reflection and best practices.  In the last several months, I have consistently had the best conversations in recent memory about learning and teaching with a high number of staff members.  I cannot help but believe this is, in part if not full, attributed to our new educator evaluation system.  The shift from one lengthy, hour-long observation to several  mini-observations with immediate feedback to staff, has proven to be an outstanding forum for conversation - focused on student learning.  For sure, there will be hurdles along the way and details to be hashed out, but I can honestly say that I am truly excited to get into classrooms, see learning and teaching in action, and have professional, reflective conversations with staff members about student learning.

For sure, schools are hectic places; but unless you deliberately make time to stop, pause and reflect, it is easy to get lost in an administrator's daily to-do list.  This new educator evaluation system provides a framework and goal for me as an instructional leader, provides a forum for conversation with staff members, allows me to better understand the instructional pulse of my school, and have face time with students - all great things.

I recently attended a workshop with trainer Kim Marshall, and it provided a similar chunk of time to stop, pause and reflect about how to best approach mini-observations and walkthroughs.  I have started implementing Kim's feedback and suggestions, and have set some manageable goals to be not only present in classrooms, but work collaboratively with staff to discuss how to best support and instruct our students.  Unless I took the time to do so, I would not have reflected on my mini-observation walkthrough protocols - highlighting the importance of doing so in our craft of educating - such a balance of art and science.

The days are short right now and things continue to be busy.  I am thankful for the opportunity our new educator evaluation has provided: for the conversation to be had with staff and time in classrooms, as well as for the expectation that I reflect upon my own craft.  Although another item to place on my to-do list, assessing my goals and reflecting upon my craft is an important one.

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