Evaluations: District v. Student

Evaluations are a hot topic for teachers. Educators are being judged by various metrics, formats, standardized tests, and value added formulae. My own district is using the Charlotte Danielson model and evaluating teachers on several domains. The evaluation process is of course unsettling. It seems strange to have 180 days times 7 hours of connecting with students to be whittled down to a couple of hours of monitoring. The evaluation process has been going fairly well, though. Fortunately the administrator in charge of the mathematics department is willing to listen to our concerns. He has certainly helped me to think more intentionally about my practice. Thanks, KG. However, the evaluations that were most helpful this year came from my students.

After the AP Test I ask my students to evaluate the review process. Things that helped, hurt and suggestions to improve for next year. My former students shared with me wonderful ideas to improve the experience. Thanks, guys.

For this year’s assignment I asked my kids to evaluate not only the review process, but our iBooks Author ebook text as well. I am so proud of the care and concern my students took while evaluating the year. It was clear from their essays they took this assignment seriously and wanted to provide me with helpful feedback.

But, it wasn’t just the ideas they gave me that made me so proud. I am so grateful for the kindness with which they made these suggestions. They wrote in such a manner that made me feel valued as an educator, person, and a learner. Wow. I wished the feedback that I give my students was nearly as helpful and heartfelt. After reading my students’ suggestions for improvement, I felt empowered, positive, excited to be better, do better.

This leads me back to the other teacher evaluations. I think all educators believe in accountability. We need and expect to be formally evaluated. Dedicated professionals want to improve and get better at their craft. They just want it to be fair, appropriate, empowering, encouraging, and accurate. Much like the evaluations my students gave. I’ve been fortunate. My district evaluations have been fine. But, I have read of many other teachers who have not been so lucky. Great people who feel unappreciated, misunderstood, unfairly judged, beaten down, and discouraged. Why is it sporting to hurt those that try to do the most for others?

So, what did my students suggest? Well, they told me they liked that they didn’t have to lug around a text, thought the screencasts and keynotes were helpful, and enjoyed the HHS personalization. However, loud and clear, they thought I told them too often to look “it” up in the ebook. I will be careful of that for next year. However, I do want them to work on owning their own learning.

As for the review process, my students told me I get too stressed ,and it makes them stressed and they tend to shut down. It’s true. I do get very stressed out and agitated. I used to wear my stress as a badge of hardworking honor. I promised my students this year that I would change, and I will.

AP Stats class of 2014, your peers from the class of 2013 will help your year be better. Thank them.

Julie @jkindred13

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