Implementing a New Teacher Evaluation System: No More Tears

Big system-wide changes can be challenging and scary. But eventually your teachers will be shedding tears of joy, not pain.

Remember the “No More Tears” refrain from the childrens’ shampoo commercial? The product promised to take away the sting and burn of a once-dreaded routine. Your new teacher evaluation system may promise the same relief: getting rid of the sting so if your teachers are shedding tears, they’ll be tears of joy. If you’re a principal or administrator, conveying the long-term goals of your new system will help you get teachers on board.

You may find the comparison between shampooing and teacher evaluation a stretch, but listening to teachers’ concerns over the last few decades, we know that many teachers perceived evaluation as unpleasant as a harsh shampoo. Teachers feared they could be judged on arbitrary characteristics that had nothing to do with their practice; they suspected that some teachers, because of seniority, got a pass whether they deserved it or not; and once or twice a year they had to put on a “dog and pony show” that had little to do with their daily practice.

A renewed focus on teacher improvement

New evaluation systems like the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model focus on teacher improvement and school-wide alignment. Teachers and administrators are excited, but even so, the pace and pressure of change can cause frustration, stress and yes, more tears. That’s to be expected.

When new evaluation systems are implemented faithfully, however, with time, training, and support, they have the potential to change not only teachers, but administrators’ practice as well – creating school-wide improvement. Fidelity to the teacher evaluation model requires that the feedback to teachers is specific and focused to improve instruction in each classroom. Those responsible for evaluating, coaching, and mentoring teachers and principals must be trained in the art of providing meaningful, developmental feedback, encouraging reflection and creating opportunities for professional growth. Teachers and leaders will make critical judgments using a research-based, equitable standard supported by real evidence. So how do you convey these new priorities to your teachers?

Just remember this acronym: TEARS. Evaluation systems that accomplish these goals will bring TEARS of joy rather than pain because the evaluation is:

T- Timely (conducted regularly, over a variety of lessons)

E- Effective (focused on specific classroom practices correlated to student achievement)

A-Actionable (followed up by targeted feedback and goals for improvement)

R-Relevant and Reliable (observers look for specific strategies and are trained in inter-rater reliability)

S-Specific, yet supportive (with the goal of improvement and professional development to help teachers get better over time.)

Keep these benefits of your new evaluation system in mind as you implement the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model or other teacher evaluation models. Remind your teachers of the larger goals for change: to build effective teachers and principals who improve student learning and remain passionate about their profession.

How do you keep enthusiasm high in your school or district while implementing large changes? Share your thoughts with us or ask a question in the comments section.

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