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Here’s What Evaluating Teachers Should Focus on This Year


Teacher Evaluations Need to Be Cancelled This School Year

Here’s the thing: Evaluating teachers on performance needs to stop this year. These are not normal times so we can’t have normal expectations for teachers.

School environments are constantly changing. We are dealing with rotating class rosters of students jumping in and out of virtual and in-person learning due to mandatory quarantines and parent safety concerns. Every day, there are teachers who can’t come into the building because they’re sick, have sick kids, or are awaiting COVID test results. There aren’t enough subs so teachers are taking on even more work to cover additional classes. Many teachers are working from home while sick because it’s the best of several bad options.

While teachers don’t work in a hospital setting, they still carry all of the weight and anxiety of a front line worker. It’s cruel and unfair to be evaluating teachers right now. We have to shift our focus onto other, more impactful practices during this time.

Evaluating teachers should focus on these areas right now:

1. Teacher mental health

Administrators should make time to check on each teacher to evaluate how they’re really doing – inside and outside of school. Teacher evaluations need to turn into “wellness checks”. We need to have a set of questions that we use to check in with teachers. How are you feeling? What are the most pressing things on your mind? How much are you working outside of school hours? How’s your family? How much are you sleeping? What would help you feel less stressed and overwhelmed?

Then administrators need to take that information and take action to help and support teachers. And requiring teachers to attend a self-care PD is not a solution.

2. Relationships over ratings

Families are struggling, and the weight of that struggle has been placed squarely on the shoulders of our students. Teachers are who kids turn to first when hurting. We should be giving teachers the flexibility to sacrifice some instructional time to strengthen their relationships with parents and students. When walking into a classroom right now, we should not be evaluating teachers on if they’re on track with pacing guides for the year. We should be looking for smiles, as much safe interaction as possible, and an attempt to bring everyone closer together in a time when “safety” means being further apart.

3. Rebuilding school community

The first thing most schools had to sacrifice this year were all of the activities and traditions that formed the foundation of a school’s community. Who knows if or when we will be able to do any of this again? We should encourage teachers to come up with unique and creative ways to rebuild our school community. This is more important right now than evaluating teachers on if they incorporated enough “high-yield strategies” into their lessons for a “proficient” rating.

It is time to face the facts. Teachers are steadfast and relentless in their mission to educate all students in the face of a growing public health crisis. Our teachers are growing professionally during this time of adversity. That should be enough. This is not the time to be rating teachers on their job performances. It is the time to be checking in on their professional and personal wellbeing. Traditional teacher evaluations and observations need to stop right now.

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Chris Cochran

Senior Member

Father, Husband, Amateur Adventurer, Aspiring Creative.  School Leader living in Northwest Arkansas.  Drinks coffee all day.

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