Word keeps popping up on line from here and there that some schools are going ahead with teacher evaluations this year, even this fall.
Which is nuts. Teachers are reeling, scrambling, doing their damnedest to stay upright on constantly shifting ground, trying to maintain some semblance of education in the midst of chaos and uncertainty that is marked by a widespread lack of leadership and direction on all levels. Even in schools that are open for face-to-face, teachers work wondering at what instant things will change. And of course, underneath all the rest, anxiety about the possibility of debilitating illness and death.
But sure-- now is an awesome time to make sure that teachers are checking off all the items on the Madeline Hunter checklist and are keeping their classroom spic and span. The Big Standardized Test, previously almost completely useless for truly measuring teacher performance, will be double-plus-useless this year. The whole standard array of teacher evaluation techniques will be pointless this year, like judging a round of Dancing with the Stars on the deck of a ship knocked to and fro on rough seas in a high wind while seals run back and forth across the dance floor.
However, there is one method of teacher evaluation that could--even should--be used this year.
It starts with an administrator who says, "I know you're juggling a host of challenges in this most abnormal year. I'd like to stop by and give you a second set of eyeballs to watch what's going on and see if there's anything I can offer that might help you get on top of this mess." It ends with an administrator who says, "I just have some thoughts about some techniques and tools that might help you with what I saw today. I also want to let you know about some things that are working really well." And the final part of the process--that's when the administrator says, "That's what I saw. Now, what can I do to help you?"
An administrator's job is to create the conditions and provide the support necessary for every member of her staff to do their best work. Right now even the most seasoned of educators can use a pair of fresh eyes to help them see what's going well and what's not, and to help provide the resources needed to do better.
There's no use in an evaluation centered on giving teachers a rank or rating, but something that helps a teacher dial their work in a little better is useful at this point. There is no other reason to be doing teacher evaluations this year. Kudos to all the administrators who are getting this right.