Counting on Accountability

At WestCAST, I had the opportunity to see Dr. Eugene Kowch (@ekowch) speak on the topic “You Got a Job Yet?” While the presentation wasn’t specifically on teacher accountability–rather it was about the national job market for teachers and how to best maximize the opportunities of getting hired–he made an interesting point. He said that teacher accountability should involve “mutual assessment of teaching practices with respect to outcomes.” That stood out to me big time.

I’m not a fountain of knowledge about teacher evaluation by any means, but from what I’ve learned and can see, the system the the US has isn’t working. In Canada, there seems to be less of a push for teacher evaluations. This is good, but perhaps we need to forge a new path that ensures that all teachers are pushing for excellence all the time.

We’ve all see him or her: the teacher that is just putting in time for the last five years or the teacher who pulls a binder off the shelf and teaches the same course the same way every year for twenty years, regardless of which faces they have in front of them. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes these teachers are on to something, but by-and-large, I beg to differ.

The majority of teachers aren’t like this, but the ones who are coasting and not putting in an effort to teach young people maybe need a push to get back into what they used to love to do, which is making a difference.

Dr. Kowch’s “mutual assessment” sounds like a pretty good deal for this. Just as teachers assess students, should students, the community, and coworkers have the opportunity to assess teachers. Note that I chose the term assess, just as Dr. Kowch did. I do not think that teachers should be evaluated (i.e. graded, put in a hierarchy, etc.), but I do think that getting feedback on strengths and weaknesses is valuable.

In my internship, I had all of my students fill out an assessment form regarding my teaching practices, and it was so valuable. Not every form was particularly helpful (although there were many that were), but as whole, I got a great feel for how the students felt I was doing. It held me accountable, and I am grateful for that.

Feedback is good. We love to give feedback, so why wouldn’t we want some in return?

One thought on “Counting on Accountability

  1. Really interesting post, Sara. I completely agree that feedback is extremely important – it is too bad that our American colleagues don’t have this option. No Child Left Behind is, by far, the worst piece of legislation that exists when it comes to providing teachers with constructive feedback about their teaching. It would be interesting to see if the United States Government would consider looking at student feedback as an objective means of evaluating their teachers – it would be an excellent way to move away from simply evaluating a teachers’ worth based on how well students do based on standardized examinations.

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