If you haven't followed the prior few days of my blogs on the notion of evaluating teacher effectiveness you might want to go back and do some prep before you read this next post... cause today, I am going to go to bat for yet another key ingredient requisite to drafting a fair, multi-textual portrait of my professionalism as an educator.
I want the kids to weigh in. Yep, let the customers have their say!
The criticism I most often hear with this idea is that the kids can't be trusted. I believe the opposite is true. I think the kids often give me the most honest insight into what happens in the rooms of other teachers.
When I want to know how a math or history or science teacher is, I go to my students. And you know what... they tell the truth.
The rigorous teachers don't get slammed. They may get complained about for being too demanding but they don't get torched. Kids want to learn and teachers that reach and teach them get love when the teacher is out of earshot.
However, the teachers that don't teach do get scorched. Of course, face to face, the kids act as if the teacher who lets students "kick it" and not work hard and watch movies and the such, they think they are friends with the students... and that the students have their backs.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The kids do not respect these type of teachers and they get sold out as being "dudes who do nothing, who never do nothing in class" whenever someone asks.
The kids might very well be the MOST honest group of people on campus.
A teacher that works 'em may not be adored, but they will be respected and when evaluation time comes around, the students will most certainly say as much.
"She demands too much and gives too much work and is always making me do stuff." To the knowing eye, is this really a bad eval? Even if they say, "And she's mean, too."
I think we can all read between the lines on that one. One day, I hope my daughter says this. It's beats the opposite. "Oh, she's too easy. I'm bored."
But kids will tell you the real deal. "All we do in that class is copy the problems from the textbook and the teacher doesn't do hardly nothing," or "All that teacher does is check their FaceBook page all day long" and on and on.
What should we not trust about this? Are we worried that kids will conspire to collectively lie to try and railroad a teacher? Well, in the anonymous system I propose (see earlier post from a few days ago) I believe kids will tell the truth. (Frankly, I'd be more worried about department wide conspiracies to oust someone by the teachers than I'd be worried about all students buying into a prank to screw over a good educator -- and I already addressed that concern as not too legit a concern at all. The Atticus! argument).
Plus, all evals would be viewed over time. 3 years minimum.
Year 1 filled with THIS TEACHER STINKS! evals, well, hey, that could be an anomaly. Year 2 filled with THIS TEACHER STINKS! evals, well, this could be the start of a pattern. But three years in a row of THIS TEACHER STINKS! evals?
And then we look at the peer evals.
And then we look at the admin evals.
And then we look at the, hold your breath, students achievement levels via test scores.
And if all of them point to a "Whoa, this person is a bottom dwelling lemon in every category we consider," well, that's when the consequences of not measuring up on the teacher effectiveness scale do seem to have a bit of credibility, don't they?
Let the kids speak. They will take the evals seriously (for the most part) and they should have a say if for no other reason than it'll be quite honest.
Multiples measures for measuring teacher effectiveness will continue tomorrow... post is growing too long.