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Evaluations- is this normal behavior?
Old 03-01-2019, 06:41 PM
 
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I'm just curious about something. I work closely with a group of teachers who are absolutely obsessed with their evals. My state has a statewide rubric and under each item, the categories are basic, partially proficient, proficient, accomplished, and exemplary. I understand feeling anxious/stressed about observations. I want to do my best and I'm always really anxious to get my scores back.

However, these teachers started talking LAST YEAR about how to get "perfect evals" this year and have been obsessively working on it since. They've nitpicked the rubric to make sure they've implemented everything that will get them "exemplary" in every category and they have binders with all of their documentation should the P not notice all of this "exemplary" behavior. Just one small example- they've assigned students "accountability partners" because one of the things in the exemplary category is "students keep each other on task during class periods" or something like that.

Pay isn't tied to our evals, and per state requirements a percentage is based on not only school, but also district state testing scores- which IMO, is ridiculous. Some years it's been mathematically impossible to be rated "exemplary" because of the district state test scores.

You can get into some trouble if you're rated "partially proficient" 2 years in a row. Prior to my observation this year, I did look through the rubric and try to tie in anything that hadn't been marked yet for the proficient category. I'm honestly happy as long as I'm proficient- I feel like evals can be super biased and one observation lesson doesn't tell the whole story about what kind of teacher I am.

Just curious- do other people obsess like this? This behavior just seems so weird to me. But maybe I'm the weird one .


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Old 03-01-2019, 06:50 PM
 
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Hell no! I don't have time to worry about all that! I will never have perfect evaluations, because I know I'm human and make a crapton of mistakes on a daily basis. Those teachers are going to drive themselves into an early grave! smh
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Old 03-01-2019, 07:02 PM
 
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Nope. Not normal at all. But I know that my P is going to try to give me an unsat and put me through Peer Assistance Review next year so I'm a little stressed about next year already. But that's kind of a unique situation.

We don't worry overmuch about evals. Our pay isn't tied to our evals.
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Nope
Old 03-01-2019, 07:03 PM
 
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Even our principal said not every single thing would be seen in every single lesson.

I donít have time for that
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Old 03-01-2019, 07:07 PM
 
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That is crazy! I just had an informal observation this past week & used technology in the lesson, which of course, had glitches. Your co-workers would have freaked out, no doubt! But the important parts were that the kids were practicing a skill, having fun while doing it & I stayed calm & cool throughout the glitches (as did the kids!)

I'll take my kind of teaching (which is prob yours, as well) over theirs (stressful, no doubt) every day.

Enjoy your (stress-free) weekend!


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Old 03-01-2019, 07:35 PM
 
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Teachers are on an eternal wheel inside a cage. There is no way you get off to claim the "perfect"lesson. Admin are trained to look for the "wrong" and teach teachers (mostly female) that they are never going to be what admin want. Then the teachers clamor for the next bandwagon,hoping admin will be pleased once the teachers climb on board. It truly is a game where districts pull in money from the federal government claiming to have plans to train their teachers on how to be perfect. I prefer that teachers coach other teachers and trust each other as they help each other. That was the mindset years ago.
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Absolutely not
Old 03-02-2019, 01:43 AM
 
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Teacher evaluations have drastically changed over the years, and it has only added to the stress, and in my opinion lowers our moral. I just try to do my best with what I'm dealt with every year, and I always try to remember that in the end, it really is just a job.
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In my state
Old 03-02-2019, 04:23 AM
 
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It's literally impossible to get a perfect evaluation. Principals are trained to never give a perfect evaluation here. So your coworkers would be ripping their hair out over here.
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I can see some personality types
Old 03-02-2019, 04:59 AM
 
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finding it a challenge. That is, some principal or some person announces that it is impossible to get a perfect score on an evaluation and then someone looking at the rubrics and thinking that they do nearly everything on the rubric and thinking that THEY could and should get a perfect evaluation.

Then setting out to do it.

I can also see that a very persuasive personality type could convince others on her team to jump on the "get a perfect evaluation" bandwagon.

I did something similar one year. I wanted to grow as a teacher, so I selected one of the 7 domains to get a "perfect score" in. I did collect evidence as well.
It worked. But I don't feel the need to carry that out to all seven domains. I have few enough hours in the day as it is.
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Old 03-02-2019, 05:05 AM
 
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I agree with PrivateEye- it's good that they're looking at the categories- not necessarily to get a perfect eval, but to make sure they're meeting standards in their teaching. But they definitely should not be obsessing over it.

I am a perfectionist (as many teachers are). Of course I'd love a perfect eval! But I honestly don't put any thought into it. I figure I do my best every single day, that I should be ready to be observed at any moment. I'm not all about the dog and pony show. I don't prep my kids for observations, and I also don't prep a special lesson for observations. I do what I do everyday- good, sound teaching.


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Old 03-02-2019, 05:11 AM
 
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Some I work with want to be "perfect", fine with me. They can make themselves crazy, lol. Not me. I gave up chasing someone else's idea of the ideal teacher long ago. I always get very positive evals. However, I do have an admin who knows I do a good job, test scores show student progress, don't cause problems, she gets no parent complaints, etc. Generally, I make her life easier

There's more to life than chasing an elusive teacher rubric!
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Old 03-02-2019, 05:24 AM
 
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It's not normal behavior for me at all. I'm happy with the proficient rating myself, because I know my worth internally.

I think all of these evaluations have become bastardized. You either feel the need to be perfect, or hit every rubric in the evaluation (when there's like 50 of them).

Also, many times the rubrics are not realistic for primary age students.

I can understand taking constructive criticism to heart and trying to improve one point of a lesson. For example, once I was marked down for not using enough movement in a lesson. I reflected on that and determined that it was an important piece to work on. The next time I was evaluated I was able to show that I had implemented more movement and my evaluation rose in that area.

But to worry about that on all 50 points of the rubric? No way.
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Old 03-02-2019, 06:07 AM
 
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We never even discussed our evals with friends and were just happy to get them over with.

However, I do think accountability partners can sometimes be a good thing. My goal would be for kids to be accountable for themselves, but we all need a little help, right? So maybe some of the things your colleagues are implementing because of evals are actually good?
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Evaluations
Old 03-02-2019, 06:10 AM
 
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I always strive to be highly proficient on my evaluation. Student test scores are 40% of our evaluation. For many years Iíve been able to make the category but two years ago I had three kids that had over thirty absences and then I had a student who moved into my class 2 weeks before testing. All four students counted on my evaluation. Needless to say I didnít make highly proficient. Last year I missed it by one tenth of a point. I was ticked off because I couldnít control those outside factors yet I was judged by them. While I still work hard to do well I basically just say oh well and move on. Itís not worth the stress.
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Yall dont live in Florida then, lol
Old 03-02-2019, 07:18 AM
 
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Our pay is tied to evaluations/student growth scores AND stupid government has put forth a Best and Brightest scholarship fund for the last several years where only Highly Effective Teachers can get up to 6000 dollars a year.

So making sure you have documentation of what you do that the prince may not have seen is actually what we do to CYA here.
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Old 03-02-2019, 07:37 AM
 
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Nope!! Nothing is tied to it or test scores however. I have not had a formal observation under the new Danielson evaluation system. My last formal observation was five years ago under a different principle. I am due for formal evaluation this year before mid April as part of my 3-year recertification cycle.
It has not even been mentioned yet since our P is so busy doing all the newer teachers.

I might glance at the rubric. I have always gotten good evaluations with either proficient or whatever the next higher thing is. I don't care if I don't get a bunch of 4s, but I better not get any 2s is my philosophy. 34 years in. I don't get too worked up over this nonsense.
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Old 03-02-2019, 07:50 AM
 
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My goal is proficient, also. But after you get proficient nailed, it is always a personal challenge to find areas that you can get marked up on. I find myself now working to find ways I can get some areas marked to exemplary. It isn't an obsession - but there are things that we do that aren't observed. Those things deserve kudos.

Not obsessed though. And not perfect.
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Old 03-02-2019, 08:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Teachers are on an eternal wheel inside a cage. There is no way you get off to claim the "perfect"lesson. Admin are trained to look for the "wrong" and teach teachers (mostly female) that they are never going to be what admin want. Then the teachers clamor for the next bandwagon,hoping admin will be pleased once the teachers climb on board. It truly is a game where districts pull in money from the federal government claiming to have plans to train their teachers on how to be perfect. I prefer that teachers coach other teachers and trust each other as they help each other. That was the mindset years ago.
anna NAILS It. We need a like button for posts or one that say PERFECT. In our state it is the politicians that keep moving the bar and changing it up as fast they can. (Fla)
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Sounds obsessive, but...
Old 03-02-2019, 01:07 PM
 
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These so-called objective, standards-based evaluation systems have created an atmosphere of competition rather than collegiality. We lost true tenure in NJ when the state forced these on the districts, because as you correctly said, even if you were previously tenured and received two partially efficient evaluations, you could lose your job. It created a lot of stress.

I saw my school go from collegial to competitive. Teachers would unite for special projects which gained them points in the evaluation system. These were not done as a grade level, and I was often the odd teacher out, especially when there were only 5 teachers at the grade. The principal loved this. Even when I volunteered to have my class spotlighted for an opportunity, she never chose us. I never felt it was an equal playing field.

Despite the appearance of objectivity, my principal did play favorites and once I realized there was little I could do in her eyes to be exceptional, especially my retirement year, I didn't play the game anymore. I didn't have the ego or the stomach to do it, and I lost the desire to do all the extra work. As you correctly said, your pay is not impacted and being rated "effective" is enough to be re-hired.

I do think it is obsessive, but I think some people do want to stand out and more power to them. You are definitely not the weird one, though, and you probably have more of a complete life not involving school, hopefully.
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It is actually sad that so many teachers are
Old 03-02-2019, 01:40 PM
 
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allowing someone else to define them like that. I think most P's have their minds made up about your eval before they ever even come.
I will admit when I was in my 20's and 30's, I took evals to heart because I really respected, admired, and felt the evaluators ( not always P's) were educated, skilled, and highly experienced. It was an excellent district for teachers.
If I had gotten a less than stellar observation, I'd have felt bad then.

We did not have to jump through hoops like some evaluation systems are now. I don't think I'd have had time to do that back then because I was so busy doing my absolute best at teaching, coaching, and committee work.

Fast forward to now, I barely give a __about evals. I am not as motivated as I once was to do extras. I kind of resent it when they try to push extra work on my plate that has nothing to do w/ teaching. ( Example: Baking cookies for a family night...not happening here!)
Also, I have forgotten more than my P ever knew to begin with! I don't even respect or agree with his educational philosophy. He can't get the kids to do 1/10 of what I can so him evaluating me is a joke.
I guess I should be thankful to have gotten to work for a P like him. I don't worry or plan anything different for evals. It is a normal day and I refuse to document everything I do. I do not have time. I try to take the time I have after work and on wkends to enjoy myself and rest. In some ways, this makes me an even better teacher because I am well rested and cheerful.
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I respect these people's
Old 03-02-2019, 01:50 PM
 
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Work ethic and commitment. I don't share it. I feel like there is such an immense diminishing returns dynamic to working harder in teaching, particularity doing so outside of contract hours. Also, while I don't have any particular complaints about my administrators, I don't really think they're interested enough in classroom instruction to even evaluate me in such a way that woukd yield accurate feedback, so their evaluations wouldn't be valid measurements of how close I would be to achieving the goal of pedagogical perfection. I don't think my principal really knows or cares what's going on in any class instructionally

Last edited by Surly; 03-02-2019 at 03:05 PM..
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Old 03-02-2019, 06:42 PM
 
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Wow, so many replies! I agree that really taking a look at some of the aspects of the rubric and trying to improve can make you a better teacher/get better outcomes for students. I think these teachers have taken it so far though, that the outcomes for students are actually negative.

So much learning time is taken up on stuff for the rubric (checking with accountability partners, rating themselves and the group on behavior and participation throughout the lesson, doing a "smart start" and "finish strong," wasting time in the hallway on line up order and "getting ready to learn" etc.) that there isn't as much time for kids to actually learn content. These are all teachers teaching in intervention blocks that are in most cases 30 minutes or less. Not to mention spending tons of time on comprehension/higher level thinking stuff for students who are struggling to read CVC words because it's on the rubric.

I am the only specialist at my school that doesn't participate in this nonsense. They all meet at school every Sunday and spend 10-12 hours prepping their lessons for the week in accordance with the eval rubric. The first time they did this, I was invited and I literally laughed out loud because I thought they were joking . When everyone else is doing it, it kind of made me start to wonder if I was the crazy one!

My teammate who participates in this is absolutely miserable. I don't know the other teachers well enough on a personal level to know if that's how they feel. I can't imagine feeling anything but constantly overwhelmed and stressed if that's how you operate! I've tried to tell my teammate that P is not as much of a stickler as she seems to think she is. I actually got marked "exemplary" in the rubric on all of the behavior/classroom environment things that they're doing all of these super fancy systems for just because my classroom runs well and I have a predictable routine that students know.
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Thatís insane!!
Old 03-02-2019, 07:29 PM
 
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10-12 hours on a Sunday?!?!?

No way. Iím not an indentured servant. I am not an inferior teacher because I donít have a Pinterest decorated classroom or spend hours of PERSONAL time. The field of education has lost sight of whatís truly important. As a PP said, one day weíll look back and see the disservice to the kids.

I do well on my Evals and Iím considered a strong teacher, Iíve mentored new teachers, I participate in committees, and am considered a leader. However, I have work/life balance and my identity is not solely based on being a teacher.

True story: I was evaluated and about 1/3 into my lesson I saw that my class was not getting the material... At. All. I tried to make adjustments - differentiate, etc.. it was not working. I had a choice:
1. Act differently with bells and whistles, stick to the plan, and trudge through because I was being observed...or
2. Switch up my lesson, deviate from the plan with a different activity that still taught the objective skill but actually met my students where they were at at that moment.

I chose #2. I was nervous going into my post observation meeting but I knew that I had done what I would do on any given day - make an adjustment driven by data to ensure that my students were learning. Thankfully, my principal saw that and commended me on being confident enough to adapt. Sadly, I know that if I was a newer less experienced teacher I would have just plowed through because of an Eval. I agree with a PP about the need to go back to true collaboration, coaching, and mentoring.
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I get it...
Old 03-02-2019, 08:07 PM
 
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Whenever teachers go, "Oh, evals aren't that bad, principals want to help you grow, they observe a bit and make some notes, la la la, no big deal," I want to scream.

My district moved 6 years ago to merit pay. My salary is directly dependent on two things: my kindergarteners' test scores, and my formal evaluations. If my students have an off day when it's time to test (one day, all year, their test scores count towards my salary) or I forget to say certain magic words that earn me points on my evaluations, I will be labeled an ineffective teacher and lose nearly $10,000 in pay.

So it's not weird to obsess about doing well on an evaluation in every case. If evals don't really count for anything in your neck of the woods, than yeah, it would be weird to make such a big deal out of it. I wish we didn't have to make such a big deal out of it
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Old 03-02-2019, 08:11 PM
 
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PE gets me!

Quote:
I can see some finding it a challenge. That is, some principal or some person announces that it is impossible to get a perfect score on an evaluation and then someone looking at the rubrics and thinking that they do nearly everything on the rubric and thinking that THEY could and should get a perfect evaluation.

Then setting out to do it.
The first year they rolled out the Charlotte Danielson crap, we didn't know what to expect. Rumors of people losing their jobs and whatnot. I wouldn't say I was obsessed, but that first year, I scoured the rubrics and developed evidence to support scores of 4s and 5s. I actually made a document with the rubrics and stated, "I deserve a 5 because..." It worked.

Every year since then, I just submit all the docs I created in the first year. If I have something new and noteworthy, I just edit the doc (NBCT for example).

So it was a bit of work to develop, but then I coasted for nearly a decade. It's all gone now with our new governor, so who knows what's next.
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Old 03-02-2019, 11:47 PM
 
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I don't know if any of them will tell me, but I'm curious to see if P will actually give anyone exemplary in every category. It seems like you're going to have to come up with something as a "next step" and admin might be worried about making themselves look bad by giving a "perfect eval."

I know last year, my teammate who works 80+ hours per week was rated the same as me . Apparently she threw a huge fit about it and gathered up data showing that on some assessment (it's only for intermediate, so I'm not familiar with it) most of her sped students actually outperformed gen ed students. She says she "got it changed" but I'm not sure to what. She started her binder for documentation of each item on the rubric last spring and got the intervention teachers on board with her.

Our system seems to change quite frequently (I've done like 5 different systems in 9 years of teaching), so although it's feasible to reuse some stuff, ours isn't something you could just figure out one year and then continue to do the same thing over and over. We also constantly have new initiatives that you're supposed to implement as the way you're meeting certain rubric items. For example, this year they introduced Habits of Discussion and now that's really the only thing admin will accept as far as marking all of the "teaching students to be effective communicators, listening/speaking" portions of the rubric.
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Old 03-03-2019, 05:53 AM
 
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This bs generates jobs for admin in the district office. I'll bet every district in America right now has someone assigned to developing a new form to evaluate teachers and some admin are assigned to write PD around "new"ways of teaching the kids. This isn't to say that teachers shouldn't be looking at their pedagogy and their students and doing some reflection and refinement of their methods. My point is that the cycle of "you are not good enough"applies only to teachers in the district and this theory generates other jobs. All of this energy supposedly generates "better test scores."
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Old 03-04-2019, 10:29 AM
 
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I have learned to seriously distrust working with anyone who is under the impression that she's perfect, or believes that "perfect" is even a realistic attainable goal.

We all want to do well and be rated highly, but I am under no delusions that I am incapable of improving. In fact, I think this is the attitude that leads to all of my awesome evaluation results! Ironic, isn't it?
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