Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Raising the Bar

First of all, let me state for the record that I think evaluations are a great tool. No matter what field you work in, being evaluated can be (and is) used for self improvement. However, if done in the wrong way...it can be very detrimental to a person's motivation.

So, for those of you who haven't heard....Tennessee has begun a new evaluation system for it's teachers. It is something that has needed to be done for a while. I think that "raising the bar," so to speak, is a great thing. It is a good way to help teachers be better at our job. And we know that there are teachers out there who need a big push to be better.

BUT....and that is a giant BUT.....I do not think that this new system is going to be fun.

Basically, teachers will be evaluated in several different areas and will be given a score of 1-5 for each area. Then the scores are complied for each evaluation and a final score is given. 1 is the lowest score and 5 is the highest. We have had a TON of informational training on this system and how it works. We have been watching videos of actual teachers and their lessons. We have been "scoring" them and then talking about what score they really got. Good practice for us, so that we fully understand the process and how it works.

This is the most discouraging part to me....it is nearly impossible to get a 5. Why have the level 5 if it is impossible to reach? Again, I think that "raising the bar" for any job is a good thing. But, you must make that "bar" (or goal) OBTAINABLE. And this level 5 (or even the 4 for that matter) doesn't seem obtainable at all. Even for the best teachers! How is that supposed to motivate me to be better at what I do? That is not motivating at all. It is frustrating and stressful as hell! Because no matter how much I try, I may never be able to obtain the "goal score." Makes people like me... those who want so desperately to be great at what they do......really discouraged. It makes me want to cry. I want to be the best teacher that I can be....but how I am going to do that when the goal for me is unobtainable? So discouraging!

Even more important...what kind of message are we sending to people who want to be teachers? Are they ever going to want to be a part of this?! If I was an intern sitting in on these training sessions we have been going to, I would be freaking out! I can't imagine what they are thinking! This new system has the potential of being the breaking point for these new aspiring teachers. Don't we want to encourage others to teach? Not push them away?

I love my job, don't get me wrong. I LOVE teaching. It is definitely what I was meant to do with my life. But this new system is going to make me : 1. have multiple ulcers from stress OR 2. turn all of my hair gray. Hell, it might even do both.

I know that I have face this new evaluation system head on because there is nothing I can do about it. It is here to stay, but it is going to be tough. Really tough.... There is nothing I can do about it now. It has already begun. So, I am going to go and be the best that I can be. I guess that will have to do....even though it will never be a "5."

I guess the best thing that I can do is focus on my love of children and teaching. I just need to remember that this is what I have always wanted to do. I am going to go and repeat that to myself over and over.....