First Work Out What a Quality Teacher is, Then Evaluate

Tim Day of the New Teacher Project is spot on.  How can you evaluate teachers when you haven’t properly defined what a good teacher is?

“Everyone around teachers has failed them – the colleges, the administrators and the foundations,” said Tim Day of the New Teacher Project, offering what was likely the second-most provocative comment of my recent conference.

The group believes that teacher quality is key to student success, but districts treat all teachers the same – as interchangeable parts, rather than as professionals.

The problem is that it is difficult for principals to know exactly what happens when classroom doors close, and all the panelists seem to believe that what’s considered the easiest way to measure student growth – test scores – should be only one part of an evaluation.

In my view teachers should be evaluated, but one needs to know what they are looking for in a teacher so they can properly evaluate against it. Similarly, since teachers aren’t the only element in a functioning education system, other areas need to be evaluated.  Principals, administrators, schools (ie, school culture) and even those politicians entrusted with funding the schools should undergo evaluations too.

Leaving the teacher alone in the dark is not going to achieve anything.  Education is a team effort and currently the team is letting the teachers down.


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3 Responses to “First Work Out What a Quality Teacher is, Then Evaluate”

  1. The Ed Buzz Says:

    I’ve been doing this for a long time and the thing I look for is student engagement. If the students aren’t engaged, it doesn’t mater how technically sound the lesson is.

    With all this testing and test prep, I see teachers doing a lot less to get students passionate or excited about anything. it’s sad.

    While test scores can be part of the process, it only tells a fraction of the story. We do need a system that reward creativity and ingenuity. Unfortunately it’s very hard to quantify and label how it is you do that.

    However, I have also found that leadership that gives clear direction and empowers teachers to find creative solutions works wonders.

  2. John Tapscott Says:

    In my experience good teachers are unique. There is no way you can apply a cookie cutter evaluation. Good teachers are unique means they are not the same. One teacher may observe another lead a brilliant lesson. On trying to duplicate it that teacher fails miserably. Teachers are not valued by the education authorities for their uniqueness. They are valued by their conformity and compliance which promotes mediocrity. Furthermore good teachers are enabled by good management. I recall one principal in a school of 19 teachers having placed 12 teachers on improvement programs. The problem was not the teachers. The problem was the management.

  3. John Tapscott Says:

    Wholesale mass standardised testing is a crock. Eventually the tests become the de facto curriculum resulting in wholesale mediocrity. I agree with The Ed Buzz. Engagement is the key factor. Not long ago I taught a class of disengaged junior high school boys. I was going nowhere with this class until they became engaged. These boys were disengaged to the extent of sweeping their lesson sheets on to the floor with, “I ain’t doing this f****** s***!” My response was, “OK, but leave the sheet on the table.” Then I would walk away. After about 20 minutes boredom would set in and the student began to examine the sheet. On discovering that he could do it he picked up his pencil and completed the assignment. Over time the student response was, “Sir, did I get this one right?” and my response would have been something like, “Great, you followed the plan and it worked out.”

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