Monday, March 17, 2014

Educator Effectiveness Training Videos

Over the course of the last 18 months or so, I've spent a considerable amount of time at workshops being trained on how to evaluate teachers according to the new Educator Effectiveness Model.

The old model fell short, and the new model is more rigorous and comprehensive.  The new model adds some needed rigor in the areas of teacher goal setting, reflection, and documentation.  That's all good.  My fear, however, is that we are overly standardizing instruction.  

The training videos show multiple examples of what the "Master Evaluators" consider to be proficient teaching.  While I passed the required test, I often found myself disagreeing with the Master Evaluators assessments on the training videos.  In every case, I judged the teachers lower than the Master Evaluators- and I remain convinced that I'm right.

I know that the Educator Effectiveness people would take issue with that statement.  However, their own videos prove my point.  Every teacher they like does a lot of talking and makes a point of emphasizing the State Standards.  Ummm, no thank you.

Issue #1: Standards/Objectives.  A good lesson begins with something that focuses the student on the learning target.  It might be a straight up statement: "Today, we are going to learn how to...," or (better) it may start with an activity that invites questions and develops a sense of curiosity.

A good PE lesson, in my opinion, does NOT include choral reading of the State Standards.

A good Social Studies lesson does NOT highlight the importance of the day's content by referencing their alignment to the State Standards.  There may be a few young people out there who care about the state standards, but, in almost 30 years in education, I have yet to meet one.

None of the lessons pushed creativity or original thought.  None of the lessons inflamed passions.

Issue #2: Teacher talking and energy vs. student talking and energy.   I firmly believe that too often, in too many classrooms, too many teachers talk too much and expend too much energy- while the students talk too little and are too passive.  I would include myself in that category- I talked too much, especially early in my teaching career.

The training videos reinforced this bad habit.  Too much teacher talking, too little student thinking. Lots of lower level, recall type questions- very few questions that inspired deep thought or challenged students to think from a different perspective.

My fear is that principals, and entire districts, in the name of consistency and calibration, will coalesce around an instructional model that will not help our students gain the skills they need to be successful.  We aren't going to improve instruction by making sure that every teacher clearly identifies the State Standards in every lesson.  That is a classic case of cleaning the wrong car.

A fear is not a proven fact.  I could be wrong.  I hope I'm wrong.  I do know that I will not be using the lessons provided by the Educator Effectiveness Team as the basis for quality instruction in our district.  We can do better.

Good post here:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Why teachers may question trends

Good points here: