Friday, June 19, 2009

Disputes on Teacher Evaluations

My Yahoo has been flooded with emails for the past two days about the terminations. Here's what the WaPo says about it:

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, following through on promises to dismiss teachers deemed ineffective, has fired about 250 tenured and novice instructors this week for poor performance or failure to obtain a license, union officials said yesterday.

Parker said the union would appeal the firings in instances in which it believes teachers did not receive adequate support on the 90-day plan. The first step would be an appeal to D.C. school officials, followed by a session with an independent hearing officer. If neither results in a reversal, the cases could go to an arbitrator. The process can take four to 12 months. In the past, Parker said, the union has been able to secure reversals of about a third of the handful of dismissals.

I had to dispute my final rating too. While this was all happening, I was doing a presentation showing documentations and evidence of knowledge of content, effective teaching strategies and student achievement to my Principal, Asst. Superintendent, and my WTU Representatives. It was intense for me and at the same time I was eagerly excited to demonstrate how excellent I was as a teacher this year. I couldn't hold my tears (cry baby I am!) when I showed my video presentation because it was sort of a reflection for me. Looking back I saw how my students have tremendously progressed and how much accomplishments they had during this school year. The conference lasted for about 45 minutes and it was done in a professional manner. I am grateful that I was given a chance to prove by reasoning and evidence that I am a teacher leader and that I am the quality teacher who goes above and beyond the call of duty to provide my students the high quality instruction, state-of-the-art classroom resources (from grants), and innovative supports (24/7 online extension of my classroom) that my students need to be successful.

People were telling me that it would be difficult to dispute the content of a teacher evaluation, so I should just question the procedural violation. I went on anyways. What gave me the guts to do this? I just read this report last week, and I knew that my position was right. Who's to blame? The current Teacher Evaluation System that has failed the teachers and the students for decades.

Afterwards, the rest of the teachers' concerns in my school were brought to the table individually and were resolved in a peaceful and professional tone. To our WTU Representatives who showed up despite the last minute call, to my Principal and Asst. Superintendent who showed professionalism, from deep in my heart, THANK YOU.
This is another learning experience for me. I realized that it is imperative for us professionals to listen to each other, communicate effectively, and be sensitive to each other's feelings so that we can come to a solution that is good for kids and fair to teachers.
Afterall, education is about collaboration, it is about partnerships. Now, can we all work together?


John Tenny, Ph.D. said...

There is another tool at your disposal - the ability to have objective data on the implementation of best practices in your classroom, and objective data on the impact of your teaching on student behavior. It's easy to collect and very powerful in presenting a counter argument to another observer's judgment of your performance.

A major flaw in the teacher evaluation systems is that it's based on observer opinion and judgment. Both administration and teachers can benefit from having objective data on class learning time, time on task, teacher response to misbehavior, student engagement, etc, etc.

The technology exists to make such data collection easy. The eCOVE Observation Software [] includes multiple tools for collecting this data, and produces clear reports. It's important that the data collector be unbiased, and can be an administrator, peer, volunteer, or someone from outside the district. Data can be collected over time to show either consistent behavior or progress (or lack thereof) over time. It's a easy to implement solution.

The indicators of student learning are, in the end, the most important factor, but they are influenced by many things outside of the teacher's control. While that outcome data is important, it's only really useful together with other data - not opinion - about what is occurring within the classroom

ms.angala said...

Great! Thanks for the excellent resource!

Promethean Planet


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