Over the past few months, I’ve had heart wrenching conversations with many teachers — experienced, passionate, wonderful educators. Most of them are thinking of leaving the profession after 15, 20, 25 years. Why? Despite their belief in the importance of the work, despite how much they enjoy working with the students … the lack of respect, poor compensation, and limited leadership prospects are becoming overwhelming. We’re fast approaching the tipping point where we simply won’t have qualified teachers available for one of the most important jobs in our society.
The verdict is in … traditional approaches to teacher evaluation aren’t working. See the recent Randreport assessing the multi-year, multimillion dollar Gates effort, that found: “the initiative did not achieve its goals for student achievement or graduation, particularly for LIM students. ”
But there is a way to get evaluation right … for the past several years I have been working with schools who are intentionally designing systems that build collective efficacy. Join me at the IB Conference in Vienna this October to learn how to get evaluation right, or contact me at Tigris Solutions.
Very excited that the book I’ve co-authored with Doug Fisher (@DFISHERSDSU) and Nancy Frey (@NancyFrey) is available here!
FIT Teachingis a field-tested and experience-honed process that captures the essentials of the best educational environments and empowers teachers to adapt the most effective planning, instructional, and assessment practices to their particular context. We highlight teachers as leaders who work collaboratively to support their students.
Apart from the energy of thousands of educators seeking to learn and lead in their practice, I especially appreciated those who attended our session on #FITTeaching. Check out these amazing doodles / visual notes created by @jgough and @conniehamilton. I’m both appreciative and envious of their skill!
Reading The End of Average by Todd Rose, a fascinating book that argues that standards and standardized assessments are radically outdated.
“Contemporary pundits, politicians, and activists continually suggest that our educational system is broken, when in reality the opposite is true. Over the past century, we have perfected our educational system so that it runs like a well-oiled Taylorist machine, squeezing out every possible drop of efficiency in the service of the goal its architecture was originally designed to fulfill: efficiently ranking students in order to assign them to their proper place in society… (p. 56)
How can a society predicated on the conviction that individuals can only be evaluated in reference to the average ever create the conditions for understanding and harnessing individuality? (p. 58)
… but once you free yourself from averagarian thinking, what previously seemed impossible will start to become intuitive, and then obvious.” (p. 72)
Spent the past three days overlooking Independence Hall in Philadelphia with an incredible group of leaders working on techniques to support change. What an appropriate site—a place where divergent thinkers gathered to imagine the possibility of self-governance.
The weather matched our agendas: on Monday, it snowed heavily, just as we were blanketed with new information and learning. On Tuesday, the snow gave way to torrential rain and high winds, as we wrestled to process techniques and approaches. For our final session today, the sun arrived and bathed our group with a warm glow, in time to send us out to do the important work of organizational and systemic change.
Over the past 6 months, I’ve had the opportunity to co-facilitate a truly great professional learning program. It’s a partnership between the NJEA (teacher’s association) and NJPSA (principal’s association) to offer a series of collaborative opportunities for teachers and administrators to work together to refine evaluation practices. Too often, evaluation systems pit educators against each other: teachers vs principals. When true collaboration occurs, the system is refined, made productive, and ultimately reaches the intended goal: improving instruction for students.
We’re building on the idea shared by Randy Nelson: that collaboration is not just souped-up cooperation, but something altogether different. True collaboration amplifies the abilities of those involved, resulting in a better product than individuals can accomplish alone.
Last Monday, the first cohort came together to consider their current practices, unpack their expectations and belief, and commit to changes both teachers and supervisors can make to improve the system. They will meet again in December to review their work and continue planning. The second cohort is scheduled to meet at the end of October and begin their journey.
“Managers solve and decide, leaders train others to solve and decide, and then get out of the way…. There are countless great leaders who have learned the basic principle that training others to make decisions allows them to truly lead. They have all learned the simple axiom of leadership we use to advise CEOs: The art of leadership is to know how few decisions the leader needs to make.”