My Idea for Rating Teacher Effectiveness

Gathered around the teachers’ dining table, you could feel the anxiety some of us had. To others, the impending event was like water off a duck’s back. It was time for classroom observations. The first time the principal told me she was coming to observe my classroom was almost enough to keep me awake nights. Except that few things ever keep me awake nights.

Some longtime teachers on our staff became nervous wrecks whenever formal observations were announced. Maybe a few teachers should have been nervous. I quickly came to realize that the only reason to be nervous was if I wasn’t doing my best every day of the school year. A good teacher holds herself or himself accountable for doing a top-notch job every day; so too did our principal hold herself accountable for the effectiveness of the teachers on her staff. We knew what she expected of us. She made it clear.

In my opinion, teacher effectiveness is best rated by knowledgeable experts on the ground and on the scene—eyewitnesses to a teacher’s school-year-long performance in the face of whatever triumphs and pitfalls occur. A snapshot such as a single battery of standardized tests and one year’s worth of student grades does not result in a Technicolor portrait. Deep, daily involvement by a committed group of informed observer-practitioners is where a true rating of a teacher’s effectiveness comes from.

What are your suggestions for how best to rate a teacher’s performance? Share with us.

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