There is a certain understood professionalism between educators – or there should be.
Judging the quality of a teacher-created contribution is tough, but how does one judge another teacher’s contribution to quality instruction?
Before you answer that let’s examine the Educational landscape around this question.
How have we been measuring this?
Traditional measurements have been the number of hours attending to something. Either presence at a workshop, in-service, planning period, or other meeting were the measuring sticks.
Other scenarios might include a work product. This is complicated by the urge to measure time on task as an indicator of effort. Which demonstrates one of the struggles Education must confront:
What does it look like when the transition between old and new measurements starts to happen?
When a teacher, instead of being measured by seat-time, is measured by product quality or effort?
For a considerable period of time now, we have required teachers to endure professional development which is given in the most restrictive environment. We have made people who already know the content sit through presentations, and watch as those who only put in the time and no effort matriculate through.
What questions might help us evaluate how Education can successfully move through this phase?
What is their leader doing?
Leaders who have meetings where emails would have been more appropriate may be reinforcing the old-fashioned, time-on-task teachers.
Do we expect teachers to change behaviors when leadership changes? Do we allow for time to adjust to new expectations?
What about those who were not successful under the seat-time measurements – did their leader allow them to contribute in other ways?
What happens to a school where that type of leadership is substituted for a more fluid definition of professional learning and development? When the compulsion to make investment of time equal across all teachers, versus an investment in standards of quality work.
It is predictable that not all school leaders will roll to this new model at once. So what happens to those teachers at that school laboring under leadership lacking this new value of a teacher’s effort? How long until teachers feel empowered to change themselves?
What freedoms do teachers have?
Are teachers really free to change themselves? Do they still have to navigate within the system while working more efficiently than the current system? And how long is reasonable to expect them to do that extra work?
What freedoms should they have? Should teachers be able to select their own professional learning? Should they be able to:
- select their own professional learning paths
- opt-in and/or opt-out of any professional learning opportunity as it does or does not meet their needs
- experience quality, professional learning on-demand – not for a couple of days at the start of the year or right around holiday breaks
- reorganize to other schools easily, outside of politics to optimize the teaching work-group
- work easily between schools to share and build up the quality of instruction across geographic areas
What have teachers volunteered to do? Not been coerced into, not paid to do, but honestly pursued passionately? Because that is what teachers will do well.
So really, to judge another educator’s work you need to have an understanding of where professional learning in Education has been and where it is moving. You need to have the professionalism to praise the innovative efforts and gently push back on those antiquated practices to help us all phase them out.
And as usual, the real change may only be possible from the classroom teacher up. Our critical evaluation of each other’s effort, intentions, and yes commentary on the quality of instruction delivered in each classroom *must* come from one teacher to another. A teacher would not have a relationship of trust with other authorities who have not only allowed, but encouraged them to suffer past iterations of professional learning.
The only people who should be judging a teacher’s work is – a teacher.