My principal officially observed me on Wednesday, and I had my debrief with her today. For those of you who don't know how evaluations work in the idiocracy that is DCPS, let me give you the lowdown.
The teacher picks the day and time that the principal comes. This means that teachers who might normally, for example, hand out a worksheet and fall asleep all of a sudden have spectacular lessons. Also, in secondary schools, the teacher gets to pick the period -- and of course most teachers pick the best one. So essentially teachers get to make themselves look as good as possible.
In addition, since my principal NEVER is out of her office going into classrooms, the kids are flabbergasted to see her and are terrified. So they behave perfectly.
Essentially, the principal has NO idea whether or not good teaching is going on in a classroom based on her observation. In the two years I have worked in my school, my principal has been in my room exactly twice -- both times to observe me in a situation that was totally inorganic. But I digress...
I went in to discuss the observation with my principal, and she basically said she thought everything was perfect. I received "Exceeds Expectations" ratings in every category, and she said that she had no suggestions for improvement. I can't disagree with her rating -- my lesson was very good and my kids were extremely well behaved. But as a teacher, I know I am not outstanding. I'm solidly good, but definitely not great. I'm relatively new at this, and there are lots of days where I really struggle. I'm happy to have the excellent ratings, but this type of observation and discussion doesn't help student achievement and it doesn't help improve teacher quality.
A much more valuable process would be one where the principal pops in for mini-observations more frequently. The teachers might not know she was coming, and the kids would get used to her presence. Then, she'd be able to see a "regular" day instead of a dog-and-pony show.
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