Monday, June 3, 2013

Climate, Culture & Teacher Evaluation

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Climate, Culture and Teacher Evaluation

After attending the Teacher Leadership Conference in Syracuse last week, and reflecting on the discussion of Peer Assistance and Review (PAR), I began to think about the impact of a given district's/school's climate and culture on teacher evaluations.  It seems to me that a positive school climate, and a culture that has a consistent and clear stance on learning are necessary for teacher (and principal) evaluations to be viewed as an opportunity for reflection and growth.  A supportive community of educators and administrators with a shared sense of purpose, shared leadership, collaboration and trust is better positioned to use the evaluation process to improve and enhance school effectiveness.

Making a Case for Peer Assistance and Review

Like many of my colleagues, I support an evaluation process that reflects and puts an importance on what I do everyday.  I welcome evaluators, peers and the casual observer to see first-hand how I engage, motivate and challenge students, and the opportunity to show the incremental student growth as well as the milestone accomplishments is welcome.  However, we don’t have to look very far to find teacher evaluation systems that are cumbersome and often punitive.  With limited, and often infrequent, feedback teachers lack the opportunity to leverage the information into meaningful professional development that could potentially improve and enhance their effectiveness.
Peer Assistance and Review used in a district/school with a positive school climate and culture can put the emphasis on professional growth.  With the high-stakes attached to teacher evaluations it seems only sensible to have a process that incorporates performance review and assistance from a consultant teacher, in addition to the support of curricular specialists and administrators.  This collaborative approach goes a long way in helping to establish trust and promote a shared sense of purpose.
I am interested in the experiences of those who have participated or are currently participating in PAR.  How is it working in your district or school?  How do you see it fitting in with the mandated teacher evaluation processes taking place across the country?