Open Letter to Stomp Out Teacher Evaluations and Step Up Learning!

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To Leaders of Education Initiatives in my state of New York,

Imagine teacher or student teacher evaluations as mental growth guides! Visualize all faculty and students supported and prospered by the rest of us. At this point,  you’ll likely step up to toss out many standard or state-mandated observations.

Why so?

Top-down, judgmental, or one-way communications literally shut down the very brainpower evaluators hope to stoke in schools.

Here at the Mita International Brain Center – we socially construct teacher evaluations so that mentors and mentees both teach and learn while observing and co-leading a brain-compatible process that benefits all.

Rather than punitive results feared – enthusiasm for shared ideas will lead to improvement initiatives for all students concerned. The process, called mind-guiding works because it uses brain-compatible strategies to aggregate value, respect, and mutual improvements from all interactions! Mind-guiding draws on neuro related facts  that move minds from anger and resentment into a state of relaxed alertness that can spearhead the changes we all crave and students deserve!

Mind-guiding’s unique approach will soon appear as a full chapter within an internationally published handbook for improved teaching-learning-leading initiatives globally. Written by 40 experts in the field, the handbook is being prepared for distribution by a leading publisher for learning and leadership change for a new era.

Why not lead the way ahead with a more brain-compatible and reliable teacher evaluation approach here in New York?

One surefire way to stomp out learning growth is to judge teachers without their input! It’s time for change – and many faculty come equipped to initiate effective evaluation rejuvenation! Sadly, the current evaluation forms we use to seek excellence – instead often act as deterrents to progress for entire schools. It doesn’t need to be that way!

Teachers expect to be evaluated – and few have any problem with that reality. So why the rift between State lawmakers and classroom teachers? We’re still using an invalid form of observation that assumes the observer is expert while the teacher is novice.  It’s simply not true!

Let’s just say that when faculty reviews support both student and teacher growth, and when we all value more of what goes well in any class, ongoing learning improvements tend to follow.

After observing teachers across multiple grades, disciplines and countries – I see teacher evaluation plans very differently than assessments prescribed by most states.

To support student learning and encourage ongoing teacher growth, observation practices will likely evidence three distinctives:

Firstteachers will start a genuine conversation after lessons observed. My brain based forms have teachers list a few things that went especially well. Only after that what-went-well discussion can any further exchange foster changes that would benefit students and teachers in future lessons.

Secondquestions about lesson content set the stage for teachers to illustrate clearly displayed lesson goals. Observers engage teachers respectfully to build trust through mutual exchanges about lesson material. They ask for example: What interested students? What do they still need to know, in a rejuvenated lesson?

Thirdstrategies for active lesson delivery are often co-created at winning reviews. When student learning motivates evaluation’s purpose both teachers and students find motivational strategies that engage and challenge higher level learning.

But what about teachers who fall short? Rather than punish already poorly supported faculty through flawed reviews, let’s move teachers’ and students’ wellbeing onto center stage! Let’s grow the kind of awesome schools that prepare students to lead in a very different generation!

To ensure we value teachers as they deserve, we use an appreciation format that illustrates our tangible support rolled into shared ongoing progress for all. Teachers change young lives daily – and they all deserve our best! Those who burn out under unfair demands, and those who burn strong with enviable innovations to help all students. Let’s stomp out tired or broken observations, in favor of the learning communities we all crave!

Start with teachers

Start with teachers – and co-create changes that benefit all concerned!

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Created by Ellen Weber, Brain Based Tasks for Growth Mindset