A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on how principals might conduct evaluations right now. I wrote it in response to questions I had seen on the internet, took them at face value, and crafted content I thought could be valuable.
Then I toured some school buildings and talked with teachers who were juggling students in front of them with students tuning in from home, teachers who were reminding 5 year olds to keep their masks on and keep some distance, and library-media specialists who were solving technical problems while also managing to get their libraries running for students.
They were all upbeat and working hard, yet honestly shared frustrations and feedback. I can’t imagine how they might have responded to a principal’s “announced observation”
And then I saw this on Twitter:
I think my teacher evaluations for the year are done, goes something like this: You pivoted, adapted, you were flexible & persevered, you were resilient, you showed grace, you worked your tail off & you did it! Thank you, thank u! What educators have accomplished is unbelievable!
— Hamish Brewer (@brewerhm) September 27, 2020
Hamish Brewer’s post received a lot of love.
And it caused me to do some reflecting and rethinking.
So, while I think there might still be some useful tips in my post, I’d rather focus on just the first part. Yes, go into classrooms–virtually and/or in-person, but suspend evaluations for now, knowing that does nothing but ramp up teacher anxiety.
Instead, focus on these three purposes:
- Connector – of good ideas
- Celebrator – of student engagement and teacher innovation
- Communicator – to families and communities about all the good that is happening, with an honest assessment of any challenges we are facing and how we can support one another.
And here’s a fourth reason to go into classrooms right now: To give teachers a break.
Let the teacher use the restroom, go outside for a mask break, text or call family, grab a cup of coffee or do some breathing exercises. You get to spend some quality time with students while teachers get a much-needed and deserved moment of peace.
At this point, everything should focus on lessening anxiety so that people can do their best–which is what we are all trying to do anyway. It’s pretty unlikely that our teacher evaluation systems helped teachers become better before the pandemic and even less likely now.
So, let’s try connecting, celebrating and communicating and see what happens. I have a hunch we will get more out of this than we did from traditional evaluations.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.