Grading the Teacher

In the comments to my previous post, Lee asked:

Frank, can you post your teacher evaluation? I have an end of the year one I could share with you as well if you are interested. I like your idea of offering the evaluation more than once. Here’s a link to my evalation: http://trampleasure.net/lee/index.php/430

I never understood why teacher evaluations are typically given at the end of the course. It makes more sense to do it early and often so your current students can benefit. After all, they are the ones who are taking the time to give you the feedback.

The first time I ask for feedback is right before parent’s night. It’s real simple. Everyone gets an index card or scrap of paper. I ask students to write down the things that are working for them on one side, things that aren’t working on the other. I compile the responses, share them with the class the next day, and respond to any concerns. It’s great for them to see what their other classmates think.

I also incorporate some of the positive responses into my Parent’s Night presentation along with photos of the class working in lab and whiteboarding. Here’s an example from several years ago:

(Note to physics teachers: I used to do Hooke’s Law with hanging weights, but kids got caught up in the mass/weight issue. Then I tried using force probes, as shown above. Now we use regular spring scales because it’s simpler. And simpler is better.)

Later in the year, my students do more formal teacher evaluations using Google Forms. This evaluation is one I’ve used for a long time, tweaking it each year. I have put a copy of the evaluation form in My SBG Files public Google Docs folder for you to use.

Finally, I think teachers should grade themselves and each other. One great instrument for this is called RTOP (Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol). The RTOP rubric assesses how well individual lessons use “reformed” teaching methods like whiteboarding, inquiry, using multiple representations, and student reflections on their own learning.

While RTOP was created for evaluating individual lessons, look at the descriptors and ask yourself how often do you do those in class? Everyday? Once a week? Once a month?

The RTOP website has videos of lessons with sample scoring, links to research papers about RTOP, and photo galleries of reformed teaching methods being used in class.

And if you are truly brave, video tape one of your own lessons and watch it. Truly eye opening!

Now matter how you do it, continuous reflection is a teacher’s best tool!

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8 responses to “Grading the Teacher

  1. In classes where I use stamp sheets (they get stamps for meaningful effort on homework that is whiteboarded instead of collected… the stamps don’t count for points or anything, they just help me keep track of kids who aren’t ever doing the homework), I get feedback from my students every unit when they turn them in (the back of the sheet has a couple of quick feedback questions).

    About a month into classes (before Parents Weekend), they have their “one page paper” homework assignment. They write about their expectations coming into the course and how they have changed now that they are somewhat settled into it. Usually people write about how various members of their family told them how hard physics was and how surprised they were that the kid would be taking it. They also usually write about how helpful the experiments are, and how different (better) the class is from what they had heard about it. How it is hard, but they think they are going to do well.

  2. Kelly: I like your “one page paper” assignment. I’m always looking for ways to get kids to self-reflect. When I took a modeling workshop at Buffalo State, we had to write a paper each week about something new we learned — what we originally thought, what we think now, and how the instruction/discussion moved us there. I gave my students a similar assignment once. I thought it worked well, but at the time I struggled with how to grade it — I was on a point system back then. Thinking about it now, under and SBG system, if you have a target for clear communication you could score it against that. Plus you could score it against any matching content goals for the topic of the paper if the paper shows growth. Thinking about it now, I might do it again next year. Thanks for jogging my memory!

    And would you mind sharing the quick feedback questions you ask at the end of your unit tests? I’d love to see them! Thanks!

  3. The quick feedback is on the stamp sheet, which they turn in at the end of each unit. The questions are to rate (from sad face to smiley face with checkboxes in between): Your (student’s) participation in group work, Your (student’s) positive attitude in class. For both of those, there is also a box where they have to “provide evidence to support [their] answer”. The third question is How are things going in physics class? What is the best or worst part?

    I always get better (meaning more specific, not necessarily more positive) answers about what I’m doing if I ask them to write about what they are doing first.

    • I always get better (meaning more specific, not necessarily more positive) answers about what I’m doing if I ask them to write about what they are doing first.

      This is great, Kelly! I am going to add questions like these to my surveys. Thanks!

  4. Pingback: How Reformed is Your Teaching? « Action-Reaction

  5. Pingback: Teacher Evaluation « Take It To The Limit

  6. Pingback: Modeling Unit 1 | SaltTheOats

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