The end of year signals the rush of paperwork that teachers dread. In NJ the summative evaluation is a nerve racking process. If we receive a low summative evaluation we get put on improvement plans. Two years in a row and tenure charges will be brought up against us. Here is a rundown of how to attain tenure and what it means to teachers in NJ:
This year I had two student growth objectives (SGOs) that needed to be documented and reviewed as well as a review of my current professional development plan (pdp). My meeting went well. I left feeling valued and with a clear direction for improvement the next year. I have learned how to navigate through a system that cares more about outcomes than process. Others may not be so fortunate.
The one thing that stands out to me is my old friend Maslow’s second level of needs. That level is safety and security. Once we are fed, breathing, slept, went to the bathroom and had sex we look for safety and security. This includes our jobs. Teacher summative evaluations can be an attack on a teacher’s perceived safety and security of their position. Some administrators fail to recognize this. That oversight is a huge reason why there is a disconnect between administration and teachers.
An example of this is that some administrators attempt to coach a teacher during a summative evaluation. This is a huge mistake. Teachers are not open to coaching at this point. You had all year and 2-3 formative evaluations to coach us. Use PLCs, walkthroughs, formative evaluation meetings, or any other litany of contact time to coach your teachers.
I have heard from other teachers that certain things were included in their evaluations that left them feeling unsupported. An unsupported teacher is not meeting Maslow’s second level of needs. When this happens it is very difficult for a teacher to grow. Fear starts to become a motivator. Passion starts to wane and teaching becomes a job instead of a calling.
That being said certain things need to be documented if administration decides they are going down a certain path. Some teachers are not willing to be coached so they need the written documentation in their summative evaluation to either kick start them or allow administration to start the process of putting them on an improvement plan.
Administrators need to be cognizant of why they are giving their staff feedback. What is the purpose of saying or doing something? Do they recognize that one paragraph or even one statement can be perceived as an attack on their safety and security? They need to understand that every piece of feedback or documentation is going to be looked at through the lens of safety and security. Failure to do that is a failure to understand their staff.
My final thoughts on this subject is how and when to give this feedback. Teachers need to be guided and corrected to be made better. This can occur using many different coaching methods as stated above. Teachers need to be open to being coached at the appropriate times. When summative evaluation time rolls around job safety and security comes before self-actualization.