Unit 4: Student and Teacher Evaluations
Module 6: Student Assessments
This year I taught third grade. This was my second year teaching, and I was evaluated frequently. Being observed pushed me to create more engaging lesson plans and step out of the box a bit more. Teacher evaluations allow for self reflection and peer evaluation. I can honestly say I was harder on myself then any teacher or administrator was. This year I was evaluated using three different approaches including informal, rubric and peer evaluations. These evaluations gave me different feedback, which enhanced my teaching.
Evaluations effect pay, hire status and position significance of an instructor. These evaluations differ all over the country. Evaluations can be done by an administrator, chair head or consultant. All three evaluations are done by observing the teacher during a lesson and providing feedback. In my school an administrator observes formally and informally throughout the school year. I met with the administrator twice, which provided feedback and comments. The administrator used a rubric to help guide discussion. Unlike with teach now, I did not see the rubric before being evaluated. When I was evaluated by my mentor I knew exactly what she would be grading me on. I believe this helped me to become a better teacher. One week when I was being observed using 21st century technology, I used the whole week to test myself. I tried technology I wouldn’t usually engage with. After the week I found myself turning to new technology because it wasn’t so new anymore. Some counties have decided to bring in consultants to evaluate teachers. I believe this could be effective because teachers are being compared to other teachers in the county and not just the school. I would think it would be difficult for consultants to understand the classroom culture and challenges the teacher may have been faced with. A consultant would only get a snapshot of what the instructor in capable of, if they are only evaluating one lesson.
I believe teachers should be evaluated on the classroom culture, presentation of content, and behavior management. I believe if one is missing then a teacher is not being fully effective in the classroom. I think classroom culture is important because it is our job as educators for students to feel loved and supported. Students won’t learn if they are uncomfortable. Teachers teach in all different way, and students learn in all different ways. Teachers should be creative and engaging in the content they are teaching. Teachers should be held to high standards in evaluations so they are constantly improving.
In my third grade this year I had a wide range of ability. It was sometimes a struggle bringing together my Exploring, Emerging and Experts into engaged learning. For core subjects such as reading and math I have centers that help me reach all levels of learning. For science and socials studies I find it a bit more difficult to reach all learners. This year I used pre-assesment to understand prior knowledge and find out more about what students know.
Unit: Movement and Energy
I love teaching science due to the endless opportunities to do project based learning. Based on the pre- assessment results I created 2 different projects. My Exploring and Emerging groups completed the same hands on activity, but then had to apply what they have learned in different ways. These students completed week long mini projects and activities. Students kept a journal that tracked how the term related to the project or activity. The Emerging group was asked to writing about the connection to the term. My exploring group discussed with the teacher then needed to write the term in their journal.
My expert group, completed whole different project during this time. This year we worked a lot on readers theater. Since I know they were comfortable with this format I created a project where the students had to create a play where they applied a term such a momentum, push & pull, friction, energy, weight to a real life example. Students were paired in a group where they typed up a play, created props and presented the play to the class. This play acted as their assesment and a review for other students. Students in this group were given resources such as hand out and books to help create their play.
Pre- Assessment for Energy and Motion:Quiz_energymotionpreassessment.pdf
Pre- Assessment Results Lesson Differentiation:
Every day of elementary school I knew I was one of the students who teachers were secretly hoping I would be absent on a test day. I was one of the students that brought the very competitive school’s scores down. I knew the teachers liked me and wanted me to do well, but when push come to shove, I was a hindrance. This is not uncommon from other schools, according to npr, low income schools post scores outside their door.They are sending a message,”That we care about you as a person and everything, but what really matters is the score that you post in April.” (Kamenetz, 2015) Testing to this day gives me anxiety.
High stakes testing is the bitter sweet topic of conversation among educators. I teach in a small catholic school, and we test our students three times a year. This is nothing compared to Maryland Public Schools whom test students for 90minutes twice in core subjects areas according to the “Locally, State, and Federally Mandated Test in Maryland.” As a teacher in private school, I am given the data immediately to guide instruction. I find it very valuable as a teacher. The parents however, find it as a set and stone projection of their child. Parents see it as a direct reflection of the teaching occurring in the school. I interviewed a Maryland public school teacher and she shared that she finds the PARCC grueling and time consuming. Mrs. Kass’s fifth graders have tested for almost two weeks and the PARCC is the the center attention at the school. She shared she “felt bad for the children.”
Reading another cohort members blog, got me thinking of the alternative to high stakes testing. I do understand why testing in completed. It shares valuable data about districts and states. We can’t be competitive with other countries if we don’t know where we stand. This data has improved many schools. Because science scores were very low there was a huge push to incorporate more STEM activities in schools. Government and Businesses have supported our national stance to incorporate Science in all schools around the nation. I have seen our school grow personally from the grants available because of the want to incorporate STEM. Two alternatives to high stakes testing according to National Education Association is project based learning assesment and a work sampling system. The project based learning assessment allows students to be given a problem in a subject, solve it, and then defend their written decision making process orally. Students are able to use problems solving skills, presentation skills, and creativity to share an idea. Another alternative to high stakes testing is a sampling system. This system involves teachers holding on to classroom material when students demonstrate certain skill. This is a great representation of students ability to grow throughout the year. These high stakes assessments allow for flexibility. Students also have more control over their success.