Stop Picking on Teachers-and we must!

Everyone knows the pitfalls of teacher evaluations, and I applaud the energy at the policy-level around improving the uses and outcomes of teacher evaluation.  Even so, we must make these changes in ways that do not leave teachers feeling demoralized and driven to leave the profession.  This is especially true of our successful teachers and those who (with improved coaching and supports) can also become successful.

Blaming is also not the answer.  The various teacher unions with which I partnered as a negotiator and as a superintendent never struck me as problematic.  The union and association leaders with which I worked always conveyed interest in students and certainly for the security of their members (part of their purpose).  What did strike me as problematic are the issues of time, frequency, and quality of classroom observations and feedback to teachers-for both developmental and evaluative purposes.

Our school leaders with the Distinctive Schools network sit together and practice mock classroom observations (via video) to hone their skills.  Our DS leader Kristin Baldino is relentless with her leadership team members about practicing their observation skill, and it is paying off big for our teachers and students.

Following is a link to Illinois colleague Richard Voltz’s presentation on improving the supports for teachers-especially struggling teachers.  Find it at:

This is a great opportunity for teachers to further weigh-in on topic.  How are we doing as leaders and coaches in helping you to improve your craft and work for kids?


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