As the due date for teacher evaluations to be turned in to the superintendent approaches, two things happen: one good, and one
bad not-as-good . The less favorable of the two is that I have a lot of careful writing to do, making sure that all points are substantiated, quantifiable observations, with constructive criticism as warranted. The good part of the evaluation process is the opportunity to have real, meaningful conversations with my teachers. I usually spend an entire class period with each of them, allowing us to cover many topics – from classroom issues to school issues, on up to state and national topics, and trends in education.
I am continually impressed by the willingness of my teachers to discuss and reflect on what goes on in their classrooms and to remain open to new ideas.
I firmly believe that every evaluation conference should be a two-way discussion and not a top-down lecture. My father, a retired principal, used to preach the sandwich philosophy of critiquing (perhaps from the book I’m OK, You’re OK) where you start with a compliment, add the expectation, and end with another compliment. It is my hope that my staff sees these conferences as a time for a good discussion, an opportunity to make plans for improvement, and as time where I can share my visions for the next year, and where they can fit in. Often, the goals they share for themselves match the ones I have for them, indicating for me that they have reflected on their experiences over the last year, and have, in some way, searched to find their place in the whole of our school.
Just this week, I can sit back and celebrate that two teachers now have classrooms on Twitter as they make their way through their first works of Shakespeare (@Pearson_Fulton and @Davisclasses). Three teachers expressed interest in contributing to our new series of tech training videos made specifically for our staff. One teacher is currently working out the bugs of how to put that all together. Yet another teacher has come forward with ideas on how to replace our now extinct drug awareness DARE program with a life skills/anti-bully/conflict resolution curriculum, and the social worker has set her teeth into scheduling anti-bullying programs for this year and next.
So for now, as I reflect back on this crazy week, I’m going to conclude that the good conversations outweighed the difficult ones, and even those necessary hard conversations will eventually bring about positive change.
I just hope your week was as good as mine!