If you follow my blog you know that Dawn Wakeley and I have had the good fortune to work with staff from the University of Washington's Center for Educational Leadership, authors of the 5D+ Instructional Model, our teacher evaluation tool. In this post I shared shared some of what we are learning from the research and the need for coherence in the work.
I am impressed with the work and research being done by CEL and enjoy our learning opportunities, especially conversations with Steve Fink, CEL Executive Director. Steve sees the importance of and need for an instructional model, but more importantly understands the push for greater accountability that is driving the current tide for implementing new teacher evaluation practices will not, by itself, guarantee teacher growth or increased student achievement. He has conveyed his thoughts to policy makers in this Education Week article, Keeping Continuous Growth at Teacher Evaluation's Core.
In other words, rating performance (no matter how accurately) does not guarantee the improvement of performance. No logic chain supports the argument that it does.
The leverage for increased achievement through teacher growth is in creating the capacity for principals and school leaders to understand what quality instruction looks and sounds like in the classroom, a difficult task as we are learning from our learning journey. These same building leaders must also create a culture that embraces change focused on instruction and develop the personal and collective capacity to use their instructional expertise to provide teachers with the feedback and support needed to influence classroom practice. As Steve shares in the article to policy makers, this will take time and support at the system and state level for leaders to gain these capacities.
In our experience with our own university-developed teacher-evaluation rubric, we learned that we need to provide this important instructional-anatomy background knowledge before school leaders can learn to use the new evaluation tools. A note to policymakers: This adds additional time and cost to the process. If policymakers fail to invest adequately in this critical process, they may achieve the aura of accountability, but without building a durable foundation that results in, and sustains, continuous improvement.
Steve's words mirror the beliefs that are driving our behavior as we implement the mandated teacher evaluation model. We will create the capacity for supporting growth of all teachers in our buildings not because of a mandate, but because it is what our Classroom 10 journey has always been about. Learning from the experience and research coming out of CEL will influence the pace of our learning and change and their beliefs align with who we are and what we want for our teachers and young people. We do not shy away from accountability measures, we see it as a by-product of what we want and need to do to support quality learning, every day, in every classroom, for every child.