Teacher Evaluation and Teacher Professional Development

There has been a lot of discussion on Twitter about this concept. I would like to thank @justintarte for taking the lead on this discussion.
Here are some of my quick thoughts:

1. We need to change the culture- Too often teacher evaluations have been seen by teachers as being a very top down process. The Principal evaluates the teacher, fills out a checklist without any type of conversation or follow up. If one of the ideas and skills we need to be promoting as 21st century schools is that of collaboration then the evaluation process must be a collaborative one consisting of several conversations between the teacher and the administrator.
2. The goal of any effective evaluation process or P.D. program must be teacher growth. We as educational leaders should want to see our teachers grow and help them maximize their potential. Therefore the process is not one of “Got You” but rather one of facilitating growth. One of the qualities we need to have as educational leaders is that of humility and we should want to see our teachers succeed.
3. We need to differentiate the process to meet the needs of the individual teacher. A one size fits all professional development plan doesn’t work. Teachers need to feel that the process is worthwhile and meaningful to them.

I will admit that I am in a private school and don’t have the same mandates that many of my colleagues have with regard to the evaluation process and the necessary paper work that is often associated with it.

However I would suggest that to create a culture of learning and growing, we as the educational leaders need to set the example. We need to create an environment that people are comfortable with taking risks and one that leads to growth and not teacher frustration and burnout.


  1. Dean Groom said:

    Hmm, there is little research on why someone becomes a teacher-educator, and for the most part it is a process of trail and error with those that do. There are layers of approach to doing this – and the worst kind is the ‘information dump’. There are many models of how to manage change – and that is really what this is about.

    You need to have people up the front who: Have a compelling vision of whats over the next horizon, encouragement for early adopters, a realistic view of the policy landscape, strategic exemplification, systems of support and evaluation.

    As you pointed out ‘evaluation’ – Transformative innovation cannot be evaluated simply according to the standards and processes that underpin the instruction paradigm. That generally operates in two blunt modes. It either co-opts those willing to do it (you Scott) in an effort to improve the current system else squashes it.

    The purpose of evaluation is not only to encourage the innovators, but to retain credibility within the power structures . We need a disciplined approach to self-evaluation – well ahead of some clown pushing Wikis at you. Why? because that relies heavily of experience and narrative than data. In many ways the evaluation framework itself is an innovation.

    By seeding and supporting pockets of future practice and resisting the siren calls of the dominant paradigm we might at last start to shift our education systems not into the future but into a fuller accommodation of the present and in the present – right now – teacher-educators are messing with the forces of conservatism and incremental improvement are very difficult to resist – and in my view – tend to see early adopters co-opted, rather than used as a critical part of change management.

    Alternatively, put 30 teachers in with me and we’ll play Warcraft for a week – at the end of it, they will be better teachers. That might sound inane – but how exactly do you know it’s won’t be more effective than what people have been doing to other people for the last decade with limited success.

    To Azeroth … to learn about learning.

    February 23, 2011
    • Dean,
      Thank you for your comment.

      I liked your idea at the end of your comment . Personally it is not my style but perhaps we have to start thinking more way outside the box.
      Thanks for sharing

      February 23, 2011
      • Wilma Darling said:

        And here lies the problem. If you are not willing to try new things – why ask someone else?

        February 24, 2011
  2. Our district implemented a new evaluation model/system this year. It took over a year to negotiate between administration and our union, which everyone thought was the best approach to a collaborative model. The new evaluation tool is based on the MA DESE “principles of effective teaching” and takes a comprehensive look at a teacher’s body of work. No more “gotcha moments” or “dog and pony show.” Walk throughs are now standard procedure and we meet with teachers for a pre-observation meeting to discuss the process and what is going on in their classroom. We, as administrators, discuss our expectations and ask how we can assist the teacher. We then observe the teacher (unannounced) and sit down for a post observation discussion. At the conclusion of this discussion there should be no surprises in the written report by administration, a true collaborative product. I send my written report back to the teacher providing them the opportunity to sit down and discuss any part of the evaluation. I have even added pieces to the product before we both signed off. Our new evaluation tool is still a work in progress, but seems to be a much better approach towards a true collaborative assessment process.

    February 23, 2011
    • Bill,
      Thank you for your comment. That sounds great. I don’t believe that there is a perfect system for Teacher Evaluation. However one that consists of more than a one time “Dog and Pony Show” and includes a process and teacher input has to be better.

      Thanks for sharing

      February 23, 2011
      • Thanks Akevy, I enjoyed your article very much

        February 23, 2011
  3. Interesting conversation starter, Akevy.

    Teacher evaluation has—in my experience—been a complete failure for far, far too long. While the processes and practices may serve to provide structure and support to new and/or struggling teachers, it has done nothing to push accomplished teachers whatsoever.

    So I guess what I’d like to ask principals and their professional organizations is how do your evaluation practices differ based on the skill levels of the educators that you’re evaluating? A related question would be how do your evaluation practices differ when you’re interacting with a teacher who you know is a better instructor than you ever were?

    Thanks for starting some dialogue about this,

    February 26, 2011
    • Bill,

      Those are all great questions. Therefore as I said in my post I don’t think there is a one size fits all. I think there has to be a basic rubric but we need to individualize the process as well based on Teacher need and expectations.
      I agree 100% with you that all teachers even the good ones need to be encouraged to grow and the systems that we have in place need to insure teacher growth.

      Thanks for your comment

      February 27, 2011
    • Abbie said:

      How wonderful to hear some dialogue concerning a system that, at the very least, has some serious issues to work out. My question to you both is what are you thoughts about the evaluation system in its relation to teacher tenure? Tenure’s original purpose has been to protect veteran teachers, however, I have seen it work counter-productively in the past. Rather than tenure being a reward for highly-qualified professionals, it has been transformed into a step in a process. Here lies the problem, if everyone is simply given tenure, where is the motivation to work towards it. We can always hope for internal motivations, but cannot always rely on it. I’d love to hear your opinions. Thanks for sharing.

      June 14, 2011
  4. Elizabeth said:

    I cannot disargee with you. The goal of any effective evaluation process or Professional development program MUST be teacher growth. We have to help educators maximize their potential using all the methods available for this purpose, such as training courses, programs of professional development for teachers to make them outstanding educators.

    October 27, 2011

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