The idea of evaluating teachers by looking at students makes a certain amount of sense. If all the students are looking out the window during a lesson, clearly something’s quite wrong. Enthusiasm matters.
That said, I need to make an observation: You can always find something wrong, especially in an academically-challenged, poor district. These districts are the toughest places to work, the areas with the most need and the areas with the most turnover. That turnover creates instability and interferes with many long-term strategies struggling districts attempt to implement.
Eduhonesty: I strongly advised a younger colleague this week to move up the socioeconomic ladder or move out of education. You want attentive students? Go someplace where upwards of 90% of the kids will go to college. Working in a district where only a tiny percentage of students successfully complete four-year college stints is playing a losing game, especially when student test scores determine a significant portion of your evaluation.
The best teachers are beginning to flee districts to which they have given their lives. I know three who decided in the last year to retire sooner than they had intended. I know two others who were on the fence about staying and decided to quit. My young colleague — and a number of his peers — will be looking for new positions come spring and some of them will find their way up the socioeconomic ladder.
Unintended consequences abound in today’s educational climate. If you are going to be graded on your students, you obviously should choose to teach the strongest group of students possible. Idealists will still start in our lower districts, but after a few negative evaluations based on lack of test-score improvement and stubborn student misbehaviors, the best and brightest are likely to jump to more privileged districts. As for me, I will help engineer exits for a few favorite colleagues. I will write more recommendation letters.
I will watch the exodus.