Saturday, February 23, 2013

The New (but not improved) CO teacher evaluation

Here in Colorado, we are beginning a new teacher evaluation process. It has been the hot topic of conversation at my school for a while, but I gather that not every school district has been as proactive. There have been a couple of sessions that discuss what we as foreign language teachers can do to successfully demonstrate our students' growth. This is 50% of our teacher evaluation process, and we must work hard to be able to demonstrate this growth because most administrators cannot come into our classroom and truly understand what fantastic things are going on.

****I also want to interject here that having seen the rubric, there are many of the proficient and above boxes that I will be able to check off because of the advantages that the flipped classroom affords me. There are many things that require that we as teachers have good relationships with our students so that we can help them reflect on their learning and identify places where they can improve. ****

The session I attended was given by two fabulous presenters from Cimmaron Middle School. They did a wonderful job showing us how we can create assessments using Google Forms. They create a multiple choice test for listening, reading, grammar & vocabulary. I know you can also set up Flubaroo to grade them (if you are unfamiliar with Flubaroo I am adding the link. It is super easy.). The create the assessments based on the material that they are going to cover for the entire year. They then administer the test in August, December, and May. They can export the information from the Google Doc (created by the Google form) to Excel, which is easier to manipulate data in. They can then create a spreadsheet with each students scores on each test for each administration. They also have students complete a Google doc to do self-reflection and to choose (from a drop down menu) what things they feel they need to work on. Teachers also add their own reflections. All of the reflection is a key part of the evaluation.

So those are the basics. Before I start my rant, I just want to clarify that it was a good and useful presentation. I am not criticizing the wonderful teachers, just the evaluation "tool".

Now to me, there are quite a few problems here. First, I have worked so hard to move away from multiple choice tests, and now to prove that my students are learning, I have to go back to that. Now I realize that this is only a small part and doesn't necessarily reflect all of my assessing, but it annoys me that I am going to be reduced to this. I can see the value in pre-assessing at the beginning of the upper levels to see what researching needs to be done, but the idea of giving students a test the minute they come back, or their first day of Spanish 1 makes me cringe. I understand that sometimes things have to be done, but was has happened that we must take ten steps backwards to justify what goes on in our classroom???? Not to mention, could this backfire if we have students that are excellent guessers?

In the perfect world, I want to be evaluated by someone that at least has a basic understanding of what goes on in a language classroom. I want them to give me honest and constructive criticism so that I can improve. I know I am far from perfect, and although criticism is often hard to hear, it is necessary if I am going to continue to grow.

This new evaluation is something that we will be forced to live with, at least for now. I just need to find a way to reconcile myself to it while finding a way to undo it.....<sigh>