Well, being sick sure did take a lot from me. I was unplugged from Twitter for quite a while. I guess you know you are sick when you are to tired and just don't feel like reading and updating Twitter! I jumped right back in tonight though, and participated in my first #edchat. It was a great experience discussing teacher evaluation and how teachers assess their own classroom and teaching. The usual responses were mentioned, but then there were also some others. Most teachers will tell you that portfolio's, scheduled walk-through's, and student surveys do little to help teachers learn about themselves. Most of the time, its ineffectiveness is not because of the process, it is because of the user.
We always had a saying when I worked in retail and a customer would bring in a computer with problems that we could not solve...."I guess it must be user error." Same thing for teacher assessment. If you don't use the tools correctly, then it must be user error. If you don't take information you learn about yourself to improve what you are doing, the only person to blame is the user. Think about it.
One option is Peer Observation, but how do you monitor it? How do you ensure that teachers really are observing each other? You could probably require a form, but does that really ensure that learning and assessing was going on? Probably not. One suggestion I had was to have teachers on planning go with a principal when they complete a walk-through. This would ensure that peer observations are going on and when post observation meetings happen, that teacher could also participate. Maybe even participate in the pre-observation meeting.
I am not teaching now, but keeping a blog has been a great form of reflection for me in this new job. I take much of what I find and reflect on how it could be used in the classroom. I then share that with teachers. I know that keeping a reflection blog would receive quite a response, but if you could trade that for keeping a big binder portfolio would you? Most of the time, a portfolio completed by teachers has the necessary parts required by the administration/district thrown in there, and often times, nothing new is put in, even though you have new students. There is also very little reflection.
Another topic within the #edchat was assessing Administrators. Most of their assessment comes from test scores, attendance, teacher retention, etc. But who assesses them on things like communication, organization, leadership, etc.? Should teachers have a say in such evaluations? A lot of that comes down to respect. Would an administrator respect the opinion of a teacher fresh out of college? If you create such a system, who is in charge of seeing suggestions implemented? Teachers always have to show evidence, would administrators have the same requirements; to show evidence? Just throwing this out there.
So, on top of all the other reasons why I have created a Twitter account and started Tweeting, I discovered that #edchat in itself is a whole reason in its own. Through #edchat, I also discovered many other educators that I added to my PLN. So if you have a free Tuesday night, 7 EST time, or 12 EST, you can join in the fun by searching for #edchat and then following the conversation, and when you are comfortable, join the conversation. Just following the conversation will open a ton of doors, so don't feel like you have to immediately join the conversation. Get a feel for it first.
I am sure that there was a lot more to the #edchat conversation from tonight, but these were the conversations that I took part in and wanted to highlight.