Assessment of teacher

Expectation parents have of good teacher

It makes better sense to discuss this question directly with parents. The discussion that follows could be directly shared with parents, without any need to edit.

It is a very important question for two interesting reasons:

  1. Even school principals do not really have a universal, consistent and transparent framework (and instruments) to evaluate teachers.
  2. Teachers are not effectively evaluated in schools across the world; for India, it is a bigger crisis because teachers are almost not evaluated at all and this lack of effective monitoring is a critical ingredient in the disastrous outcomes of schools for most students.

It is critically important that parents evaluate the teachers of their children and in the process also help the school and the teachers develop professionally. We must not forget that it is only natural for humans to become lax over time for the lack of effective supervision; feedback is a critical quality management tool. However, the truth remains that evaluating teachers is a very tricky affair because teaching is undeniably an art; the beauty of it all is that there are innumerable ways for a teacher to consistently support every student of her class. Does that mean that evaluation of teachers is not really possible? Not really; the most critical ‘job’ in the world cannot go unappraised.

Fortunately, there is also a science of teaching and certain practices that are universally accepted as effective and impactful – the so called ‘best practices’; for instance, assessing and revising prior knowledge needs before starting on a new topic is one such universal best practice. Professional audit of schools greatly relies on such best practices.

However, parents cannot use the tools and techniques of professional audits. Yet, it is very important that parents are in a position to audit teachers’ effectiveness. Parents are the ‘ultimate customers’ and know the ‘ultimate truth’ about teachers’ effectiveness, way beyond the means of professional audits.

From a purely ‘customer’ point of view (i.e. parents as recipient of schools’ services) an effective framework could be evolved for the assessment of quality of education imparted by teachers. Here is a manageable framework for parents to evaluate teachers of their child:

  1. How happy is your child meeting the teacher(s) outside of class or school?
  2. What’s the weekly ‘talking-time’ of your child in the periods of the teacher(s)?
  3. How persistent is the teacher(s) in remedying your child’s academic weaknesses?
  4. What is the depth of the teacher’s positive observations of your child?
  5. On what counts is the teacher a role model for your child?

Be selfish. Do your part of the deal in the education of your child and evaluate the school and the teachers only by one yardstick – what they do to your child. The topper’s marks, number of students ‘sent’ to IITs by the school, the international Olympiad winners should count next to nothing if your child is not (or not likely to be) one of those !

This context of expectations from teachers reminds us of Mike Schmoker, the author of ‘Results: The Key to Continuous School Improvement’, who appropriately stressed that ‘when we begin to move systematically to close the gap between what we know and what we do, we will be on the cusp of one of the most exciting epochs in the history of education.’ Translated for you as a parent, it implies that a teacher would be effective if:

  1. She precisely knows what all expectations are part of her role and
  2. There is way to measure (and feed them back) how her actions (or the lack of actions) fared in terms of achievement of each of the expectation

Interact with the principal of your child’s school to check out the quality of teachers’ role description(s) and evaluate how the progress reporting system feedbacks the teachers and you (and the students) on the performance and actionable remedial steps needed.

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