Thursday, October 11, 2012

Teacher Assessment and Evaluation: The Mentoring Aspect

Can any teacher be categorized in only
five, simplistic ratings?

As we talk about mentoring students and creating equitable learning environments, how does a teacher assessment and evaluation affect a teacher’s ability to respond to minorities?

Glad you asked. Because when a teacher assessment and evaluation is done the right way—I repeat, when it is done the right way—it is an opportunity for teachers to spot areas to improve. Of course that’s not how evaluations are being handled; right now, they are scary tests that depend on someone else’s performance.

Sad experience has taught us how not to perform evaluations. So now let’s look at how teacher assessment and evaluation can actually make a better experience for everyone involved.

In South Carolina, Graig Meyer is director of the Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate group. He has several Equity and Innovation videos on PD 360 that show how he and his team are there for minority students, giving them a chance at life after high school. And the program is phenomenally successful—100% of students who graduate through the BRMA program go on to post-secondary studies.

If a student makes one grade below a B, the student gets tutoring. Now imagine that your principal or coach comes to you with a few areas noted in your observation/evaluation and said, “I can see that you have what it takes, and you just need some training in these areas. So here’s what we’re going to do….” Unheard of, isn’t it? And yet the ramifications would be immense! If this same model helps 100% of students become college and career ready, then it would certainly have a similar effect on teachers.

If we use teacher assessments and evaluations to actually train our teachers instead of just to scare the wits out of them, then teachers will ask to be observed. They’ll ask for another evaluation. They’ll have the tools they need to do what they love to do best: help students learn.

We suffer under the delusion of treating our teachers like worker bees and expect them to turn around and treat their students with individualized attention. Teacher evaluations and assessments are meant to be classrooms rather than courtrooms. When our teachers become more effective, we will be able to see 100% of students become college and career ready.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Educators Get More with Online Professional Development

online professional development and online professional learning
Professional development or professional learning has made and continues to make all the difference in the preparedness of educators in schools. Even natural talent needs to be guided when it comes to instructing several classes of 15 to 32 (or more!) of America’s students every day.

Before the 21st century, computers were used for basic functions such as playing (rather simple) video games and typing your notes from handwriting on paper to be printed off on a page with holes on the side that you tore off.

Today, with the Internet, we have all the resources we need right at the edge of our fingers. Doesn’t it make sense to also have our professional learning online where we have everything else and where we spend a great deal of our time?

For some educators, professional development used to be such a chore, something they would dread. Online professional development has provided a way for teachers to get the information and the instruction they deserve when they want it, and more importantly, when they need it.

With the shift from traditional professional development to online professional development, there are three major improvements that will help educators as they continue to learn and do all they can for their students:
  1. Greater Quality for Lower Cost: Traditional professional development—the site-and-get session from a presenter paid to come to your school—would take time away from teaching and would cost the school money in substitutes for teachers. Online professional development eliminates the need for subs or time away from your students, but quality doesn’t change, at least not with PD 360. Where else can you get 120 experts on-call at no extra charge?
  2. It’s There When You Need It: Say you’re having a hard time with classroom management, or struggling with how to start your own PLC, no matter where you are, at school or at home, you can find the solution to your problem right away. It could be in a video segment or by talking to one of the 900,000 educators within the online PD 360 Community, but no matter how you find the answer, the resources are there for you when you need them.
  3. It Only Gets Better From Here: Because online professional development is indeed online, it is easy to update and add more content as the needs of 21st century students and teachers grow. As standards change along with the very dynamics of the classroom, professional learning will have to adapt to give educators and students the resources they need. Online professional development allows for new resources in a matter or weeks to months instead of waiting for the next version of a book to be released or the next lecture from an education professional.
Online professional development wasn’t created just to be another things online; it was developed to give educators quality resources where they are and when they need them.