Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Teacher-Led Evaluations

By on March 27, 2009

I was musing over a post at Bill Ferriter’s blog, “The Tempered Radical,” about “white space” teachers. These are the teachers who are doing great things quietly, unrecognized for their contributions to the overall success of a school.

So I began reflecting on my own staff and those “white space” teachers who are not extroverted enough to tout their own successes, or so modest that perhaps they don’t even know how good they are at such a hard job. These teachers, and others, go unnoticed by current teacher administrator-led evaluation policies. Clearly, these observations are not working.

I began reflecting on those teachers I have known in the past who, far more offensive then my prior example, scramble to show good practices when their observation time comes around. These teachers talk the talk, but refuse to use these practices for anything but these twice a year open-door moments. Clearly these observations, too, are not working.

I, must admit, however, that education has, thus far, not been great at policing itself. For this reason, and others, it has become a very top-down system when, in fact, it should be far more horizontal in influence. In fact, there are teachers even on my own site that I would dread being the one to evaluate me. But I wonder if there is a collaborative option that utilizes both teacher skill and administrator objectivity.

PLCs encourage opportunities for leadership to be offered at many levels on a site. Perhaps a co-evaluator of sorts can be that chance for a member of a department to step up and influence the vision and success of a school. Teachers must be involved in evaluating one another.

Even the Oscars are voted on by their peers. Do you think that Mickey Rourke knows jack about Sound Editing? No. It’s the sound editors that do the evaluating.

Is this suggestion ripe with issues that must be solved before it can advance? Sure. I can predict problems if this were an unstructured process with no pre-thought. But the fundamental issue is just and true. We must be involved. It is the skills that we possess that are being judged, and we are the keepers of the knowledge of success. If we can pin point and predict the potential problems with teacher-led evaluations, then we can move ahead in solving them.

What are those potential road hazards? Any outside-the-box solutions that you can already throw into the ring?

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