Getting Ed Eval Right (@sguditus Steve Guditus)

We are underway.  It's nearly October, we have hit the ground running, and as a community, we need to start thinking about educator/teacher/staff evaluation.  In Massachusetts, we have shifted from a model of "I'm on this year" to a model where every educator, myself included as an administrator, are in a constant state of reflection and growth.  The trick, as we enter year two of this model, is to focus on a state of reflection and growth - not a state of panic and confusion.

What I have found, in working with many staff members, in two different districts in the state, is that folks do a great job.  Educators want to do the right thing, be the best they can be, and ultimately, teach students.  After thinking back to last's year initial implementation of this model and entering into this year, as our entire staff is "on," and working in the evaluation system, a few key reflections cropped up.

  1. Trust is key.  In order for this new model to work, all staff are being asked to think about their strengths and their weaknesses.  If a culture of trust is absent, it is impossible to have an open, honest and authentic conversation about how to improve student learning, instruction and our schools.  
  2. Normalize talking about mistakes, discussing strengths and weaknesses, and ensure that staff know that as educators, need to be lifelong learners.  This is something we want not only in our students, but in our educators as well.
  3. Shift from a focus on instruction to a focus on student learning.  It is no longer, "Did I teach it?" but instead, "Did they learn it?"
  4. Educator evaluation is about opportunity: an opportunity to reflect, to improve, and to have high-level, professional conversations between colleagues.  Take the opportunity to do so.
  5. This is not about checking boxes.  The state requires certain forms and methods - they always have.  Avoid getting stuck in the weeds, and make sure to focus on student learning and constant growth.
  6. Leverage our new educator evaluation system to highlight the best practices, the best in student learning, and share it with fellow colleagues, parents and students.
  7. Conversation is essential.  Make debriefing a walkthrough or observation a priority.  We are all busy in schools, but to make this work, the power is in conversation and reflection.
  8. Shift from "gotcha" to "taking inventory."  Our new evaluation system will provide more consistent data about what techniques are used in class, themes that emerge - and how to use this to drive our instruction to improve student learning.
I know this makes me an edu-geek, but I am so looking forward to working on my own educator evaluation, and working with my fabulous colleagues on being lifelong learners - all in the name of improving student learning.  Off to the races we go!

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