Many public school educators have begun transitioning and adjusting to new educator evaluation procedures. These evaluation tools are to included test results for students and a statistically generate Value Added Measure. In my state we have not yet fully moved to this as many districts need to determine what District Determined Measures (DDMs) they will we use to measure teacher performance in each subject area. There are also a variety of statistical models to determine the Value Added by a particular teacher.
I really am not sure what to make all this. I am beginning some research into this area focusing on what it means in general for educators and what it means for me particularly. In my current role I am a teacher, evaluated as specialized instructional support personal (ie. librarian, reading specialist, caseload educators and those that consult). I fall into the later category as I am not linked to any students and work across the district.
The first part of my research is to look at how Value Added Measures are calculated. I would suggest taking a look at the American Statistical Association’s executive summary on Using Value Added Models for Educational Assessment. It give a good basic understanding the validity of these models. As we all know there is more to teaching, learning and education then standardized testing. How do these non tangibles effect teacher effectiveness?
Though this may be jumping the gun as I am still trying to understand the statics, I am also interested in what will become of the data when generated. Florida was one the first states to implement VAMs and to publish the results. Granted they are only publishing the top 30% of educators in the subject areas they currently are assessing, but if you are not on the list it shows you to be in the bottom two thirds. Please take a look at this article on the release of Florida’s data and the related website where parents can look up their teacher’s effectiveness.
There is a lot for me to wrap my head around. How about you?
As a brand new teacher I believed I could go thorough my scripted lesson plan, and point like a conductor to select students who I could guide through to the desired out comes. I believe that if they played along, paid attention and did the work I provided they would all learn and be successful on the tests. If we all just followed the lesson all would be well.
But…. there was always the fidgety kids in the back who constantly interrupted, raised their hand and asked all sorts of awkward questions. These questions would derail my perfectly scripted lesson. As I “matured” as a teacher I felt successful if I could avoid these questions, or stifle them. It was a good thing, I mastered classroom management. I was so naive.
I was seeking students who were good at regurgitation. If my test results were good, then I was a good teacher. As I continued to grow as a teacher I began to really appreciated the fidgety kids. They were into learning, they were out of the box thinkers, connectors, imaginative, impulsive and curious. These were the students who were going to push the envelop, test the limits, create, invent and change in the world.
These student were not passively waiting to be taught but eagerly trying to educate themselves. They were active, enthusiastic learners stuck in a passive, measured learning environment. These students needed to learn the skills required to be life long learners. I had to rethink my role and shift my teaching practice. I could still teach the content I was required to but I needed to do it in a way that focused on the skills of a life long learner in an active student centered way. The advent of the mobile technology and ever growing abundance of internet resources has made this easier then ever.
We can tailor our instruction to individual students allowing then to benefit from their strengths and gird up their weaknesses. We can provide them with the skills to continually learn and adapt to the ever changing world of work, information and technology.
Integrating technology, project based learning, personalized instruction, etc all require a change in a teacher’s pedagogical practice. That is a pretty complex change as there is nothing simple about people, teaching and learning. The teachers I support are my ‘students’. I need to know what is not working or missing to help them achieve success as they continually fine tune and perfect their craft. Over the years I have used Knoster’s thoughts on managing complex change. There are various versions of the model floating around the internet. I have include one below.
The chart for Managing Complex Change helps me figure out what they are missing, what hinders them from having success integrating technology or implementing other changes. Once I know where the trouble lies I can develop the best way to support them. The answer isn’t always more training. In some cases more training* just hinders the process. Sometimes it is just helping a teacher find the vision of what could be, or the incentive to keep plugging away or procure the resources they need to be successful. So when things are not going well it is worth using this model to help pin point the problem. It is also helpful to remember our teachers are individuals and sometimes whole group strategies are not very helpful.
* Please read my previous post and my take on training.
Knoster Model for Managing Complex Change