Opinion
Education Opinion

2 Professional Learning Elements Essential for Teacher Evaluation

By Learning Forward — September 25, 2013 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print
Stephanie Hirsh

In the rush to develop tools to support new evaluation systems for teachers, let’s not underestimate two professional learning designs that are critical to the process.

#1 Feedback

It is important that observers are well prepared to capture data on educator performance accurately. It is more important, though, that they are skillful at providing feedback that will help educators to improve their performance. Quality feedback is essential in conversations about goal setting, instruction, planning, student work, and staff and parent relationships. School systems that allocate resources to data collection should also invest in developing the knowledge and skills that observers and evaluators need to make the data useful for their teachers.

I have overheard too many conversations describing the development of teacher supports that are aligned to teacher evaluation criteria without feedback. Perhaps it is merely so obvious it is overlooked, but it belongs on top of the list. Teachers seeking quality feedback is one of the most important reasons states are investing in new educator evaluation systems. Teachers have reported that they did not receive feedback on their performance and, as a result, did not have accurate information to guide their improvement efforts. Additionally, sustained attention to building high-quality feedback processes into evaluation is a visible reminder that these new systems are clearly about improvement rather than punishment.

#2 Team Learning

The second often-overlooked source of support is an individual’s collaborative learning team. When all educators are members of collaborative learning teams, data and feedback from new evaluation systems are interpreted by and used to support improvement for individuals and teams. Collaborative learning structures ensure that new knowledge and skills are passed from teacher to teacher and classroom to classroom. Educator evaluation data then become one source of information to guide the development of individual and team goals and the learning agenda for the school year.

Within high-functioning learning teams, educators feel comfortable sharing observation data and seeking feedback from colleagues on how to use it to improve. Using student performance and observation data, team members can openly share expertise in areas where they excel and look to others for help in areas where they want to improve. There will be times when educators will require resources beyond what exists in the school, and a professional learning cycle of improvement will help them know when it is the right time to look outside and exactly what they are seeking. Guided by these processes, educators build their collective responsibility and group intelligence, and more students benefit as a result.

While educators will need external support at times to continue their growth, be aware that a powerful resource — the expert resident in your buildings — is already working in your schools and classrooms today. Make sure your systems are focusing on how to leverage that expertise, and your educators will have what they need to respond to new student assessments and new evaluation expectations, embrace opportunities for growth, and demonstrate continuous improvement day by day.

Stephanie Hirsh

Executive Director, Learning Forward
@HirshLF

The opinions expressed in Learning Forward’s PD Watch are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education California Makes Ethnic Studies a High School Requirement
California is among the first in the nation to require students to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in 2029-30.
4 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina's bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Education California Requires Free Menstrual Products in Public Schools
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons, and other items.
1 min read
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Education Florida to Dock School District Salaries for Requiring Masks
Florida is set to dock salaries and withhold funding from local school districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.
2 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Education More Than 120,000 U.S. Kids Had Caregivers Die During Pandemic
The toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.
3 min read
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 file photo, a funeral director arranges flowers on a casket before a service in Tampa, Fla. According to a study published Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, by the medical journal Pediatrics, the number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)