(courtesy of Emily Puccio, RCFA)
- Teacher evaluation plans should be determined by local school boards in collaboration with the collective bargaining unit representing the teachers in the district
- Evaluations should be conducted by district personnel with supervisory responsibilities for the teacher
- Evaluations should not be based on standardized testing, or any other arbitrary or third-party-developed mechanisms
- NYSED’s role should be limited to that of providing guidelines,but certainly not forcing mandates or developing any “one-size-fits-all” approach – NYS’s school districts are as varied as our student populations
What to Write Sample response
To Whom it May Concern,
As a parent and a teacher, I have great concerns about the changes being made to the teacher evaluation system. I appreciate the opportunity to offer the following comments and am hopeful that you will take them into consideration as you proceed.
To begin, I recognize that you do have not control over certain elements, such as the use of outside evaluators, the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers, and the level of emphasis given to those tests. Nonetheless, it is critical that you do two things. First, you need to speak out loudly against the usurping of your authority and the micromanagement of your duties – especially when the ideas being forced upon you are bad ones. Second, within the confines of the law, you must work to mitigate the required elements that you know are counter to the best interests of education in New York and are opposed by the majority of New Yorkers.
If you are interested in getting an honest, authentic measure of how well teachers are performing, you cannot ignore the planning that they do and the physical work produced by students. It is incumbent upon you to find a way, within the restrictions given, to address this.
Effective teaching comprises a huge variety of ideas, strategies, tactics, and methods that are applied differently day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute. Any observation rubric must recognize this and not penalize teachers for choosing to – or choosing not to – use a particular element or aspect of good teaching that does not apply in a particular lesson.
And, because the full breadth of what takes place in a classroom to help grow well-rounded, inquisitive, and self-directed learners does not always involve the teacher at the front of the classroom, the use of unannounced observations should be minimized. If observers require evidence of specific teaching skills or use of particular strategies, etc., teachers must know in advance in order to insure that observers are will be in on days when those elements will be used in authentic contexts.
Many of the decisions made and actions taken by a teacher, as well as the reactions and responses from students, are based on factors that may not be observable during a given lesson, but require deeper knowledge and understanding of the individual students and classes involved as well as other factors that might impact the class or school. As such, it is very difficult for a person without intimate knowledge of the children, the class, the teacher, and the school, to accurately judge what the teacher is doing and why they are doing it. Therefore, it is essential that observations by local administrators be given substantially greater weight than those done by outside evaluators.
What else you can do
- Pass this information on to EVERYONE. Don’t just ask colleagues, friends, family to write – implore, beg, and insist that they do it.
- If you’ve already written but then think of something else to say, write another email.
- In addition to sending an email to the above address, you can also write to Regent Tilles, who is the Regent for our area, and send the same message.