When is a Teacher NOT a Teacher?

When she is a counselor, or a speech therapist, or a librarian, or a coach, or on the child study team … you get the point.

There are many education professionals that work in our schools to support students but don’t “teach” in the traditional sense, interacting with classrooms filled with students. In most districts they are considered “teachers” as part of their employment contract. However, their jobs are not really the same. Most of them don’t interact with large group of students in a classroom setting.

However, their jobs are critically important. And according to teacher evaluation regulations, their job performance must be evaluated using the district’s selected evaluation tool. For many, this is the epitome of trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

Some of the evaluation models in use across the state have job-specific rubrics to accommodate the accountability requirement. For example, the Danielson Framework for Teaching also provides Frameworks for Instructional Specialists, Library/Media Specialists, School Nurses, School Counselors, School Psychologists, and Therapeutic Specialists. These can be found in the 2007 publication of Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching (chapter 5). They are also available from districts using Teachscape as a data collection tool. One final suggestion is to contact the Danielson Group and request job-specific rubrics.

The Stronge Teacher Performance Evaluation System will also provide a separate performance system for Educational Specialists (e.g. counselor, instructional coach, librarian, school nurse, school psychologist, school social worker, and selected other positions). Districts using the Stronge model can request those systems by contacting www.strongeandassociates.com

Marzano districts can contact Learning Sciences International for the Non-Classroom Instructional Support Member Evaluation Form. These are standard issue for any district purchasing materials and software from Learning Sciences.

McREL users are not so fortunate; there are no rubrics for educational services teaching staff. At this point, they typically use their existing instruments. However, individual districts in NJ have created their own rubrics to use in the McREL format. Teachers in McREL districts should contact EIRC and request examples that have been created.

For those in Marshall districts, Kim Marshall suggests contacting a Massachusetts school district that has developed “tweaked” Marshall rubrics 11 other job descriptions. Email Lisa Freedman (LFreedman@Westwood.k12.ma.us) who will share those rubrics that have been created.

No matter the model, it’s important to consider that these important jobs: nurses, counselors, coaches, librarians, therapists, child-study teams, etc., etc. … look very different from district-to-district. The job descriptions may vary, even within one district (consider the difference between high school and elementary library/media specialists). Therefore, all criteria and rubrics must be considered contextually; those educational professionals in “not-a-teacher” jobs must take a careful look at the evaluative criteria to see if it actually reflects their work. If not, teachers should recommend the rubrics be revised to more accurately describe their responsibilities—and clearly indicate the difference between effective and highly effective practice.

This work is simply too important to keep pushing a square peg into a round hole.

Note: This post originally appeared in the December issue of the NJEA Review.

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