Who would have thought you’d need a day to train to be evaluated? When I first started teaching the process was very simple and was in the realm of the administration. They would set up a pre-observation date, an observation date and a post-observation date. The teacher would create a detailed lesson plan, submit it prior to the first meeting date and then discuss it with the evaluating administrator. The administrator then observes the lesson, taking notes, etc. and then discusses the observation with the teacher in the post-observation meeting.
In 2015, the process is almost spirit-crushing. As I mentioned earlier, I created a binder for the comprehensive evaluation process in order to collect needed evidence to demonstrate my teaching ability at the Proficient or Distinguished levels (I don’t see myself at the Basic level at this point in my career).
Today we have a day long training on the Danielson Framework for Teaching, our model for evaluation. I really want the evaluation process to be meaningful for me rather than a bunch of hoops to jump. Right now, I don’t feel it is helping me be a reflective teacher, but rather a frantic gather of items that don’t help me teach better. I had hoped today’s training would help me figure out what types of evidence I could use for each component, how variations in evidence can move me from Basic to Proficient to Distinguished, and most especially, how to develop measurement tools for collecting data/evidence for Student Growth. I want to know that the activities and experiences I use with my students actually make a difference. I am not a Research Scientist and I don’t have the time to do Action Research, yet how can I measure the impact of these experiences without adding more time to my already jam-packed day? Unfortunately, I didn’t get answers to these questions this time, but I am ever hopeful that the next training will help me with these things.
How is your evaluation process going this year? What have you done to help make the process smooth for yourself? How have you made the process meaningful?
There is always a pinnacle moment during the second semester when I begin to think, “what do I need to change for next year?!” And today is that day. I won’t say that I’m frustrated by my students, but I begin to long for the “start over” free-ness of the beginning of a new year. I think that’s why I’ve enjoyed my time as a teacher. I’m an eternal optimist: “It will be better next year,” “I’ll plan so I won’t spend so much time after school every day grading,” “I know I can re-write this unit to be more engaging!” “There’s got to be a better way to do this, and I’ll figure it out this summer.”
So I started my “Beginning of Year ’15” folder. I have been doing these folders for upwards of 18 years; it is really interesting to look back at how my focus has changed and how some things are central to who I am as an educator. I guess I have always been a reflective teacher, even before it was “in vogue.”
So what do I include, you ask. Here is look at the folder from a year ago:
LEFT SIDE: Based on the previous year’s PD, reading and conferences, I subconsciously begin to develop a Focus for the year (which eventually develops into a Theme or Saying). Around this focus, I try to write goals for my students, their parents and myself (both professional and personal). I then narrow down and hone in on some key things I want to try, I want to change, and I want to keep.
RIGHT SIDE: This is reserved for technology implementation, specific procedures and student engagement or anything else I want to weave into my whole class experience.
So this year, I haven’t actually started to coalesce my thoughts, but I have begun to “gather”. In talking with one of my colleagues, we are interested in working on integrating the Growth Mind Set language and attitudes with our students. This means some more reading over the summer as well as reflecting and conversing with my co-worker about how we might actually weave this theory into our practice in a seamless way. I also have added some quick sticky notes. I will eventually put in a clean sheet labeled for each course with specific ideas to incorporate or replace practices in that class.