Teachers Reduced to a Number

My school year is coming to an end. That means that the dreaded end of the year evaluation had to occur. You know where teachers are reduced to a numerical score. This is much the same as when our students get PARCC tested. The outcome of both is the same. You walk away feeling that there is so much more to you than a number score.

I do want to state for the record that my administration has never made me feel like I am only a number. I get much more support than most teachers in other districts.  Educating my students about intersectionality has been received with open arms. If I roll into the office with an idea and a plan the answer is usually go for it. This is in no way a knock on my administration. They have done nothing but vigorously prop me up with both words and actions.

My observations had gone well so I had no worries about those scores. My professional development plan (pdp) had met two of the three goals I had set up to attain. My school is negotiating our contracts and we were working the contracted hours so every committee was canceled. This made my goal of creating an edcamp professional development day impossible to put into motion.

My student growth objectives were an issue. One of them I met with flying colors. This was actually the coolest SGO I had ever done. My students created videos on any health topic they wanted. We then self-assessed the videos against a rubric. The goal was to have them get a higher score on the second round of videos. If you want to see the rubric click here.

The second video they made revolved around one of the eight main ideas of intersectionality. The idea was that they would get a small snippet of the subject and then we would research more about it. They would then make a video enlightening others about what that idea was and how it negatively impacted people in our country. I conferred with the students often during this activity. This was my first time teaching this material and I already know some of the changes that I will have to make in order for this to work better next year. If you want to see the assignment click here.

My final SGO was a simple catching one with first grade. I failed this miserably. I did not readjust the SGO during our mid-year check in which was completely my fault. I will also take the responsibility that I did not teach them the skill well enough either.

This brought my overall evaluation score down. I did not, nor do I currently, care about that number other than making sure I still have a job. I know the system I work in and want to make sure that I can continue to play the game as long as I need to. That means understanding the rules of the game and working within those parameters. What was interesting was the discussion that ensued from my administrator. He brought up the point it’s about what I deserve not the importance of the number.  This new way of framing was interesting. Another point he brought up was that if I scored in the highest bracket I will be able to have only one observation and do a reflection piece for my second. This sounds intriguing to me.

I value my administrator’s opinion and ultimately they are the boss. I want them to see me as being valuable and want to keep my job. And I don’t think that number at the end of the year defines me. My evaluations from my students are where the power lies. The trimester check-ins, the affective data collected, the amount of hugs I get in the hallway, and the positive association with movement is where the evaluations that truly matter occur. If that sounds progressive it’s probably because it is. I am a non-tested area and I embrace that. It gives me the freedom to teach using my philosophy.

Einstein is commonly credited with saying, “‘Not everything that matters can be measured, and not everything that is measured matters’. I will never truly know what impact I am having on my students. They may not even remember my class or identify that they may have learned to love moving there. The point is that we as teachers will always be more than a number just as our students are more than a test score. I take the score for what it is. An attempt by an imperfect system to reduce teaching to a quantifiable number. I understand the need for it and I refuse to let it derail me from my goal of creating an environment where students want to move and learn together.


4 thoughts on “Teachers Reduced to a Number

  1. Diane Glover

    Well said Justin. No one knows better then you what you need to improve on and what your strengths are. Having an outsiders view usually gives validity to what we already know. Continue to do an exemplary job and always reach higher then before.


  2. Owen Peery

    Great post Justin. I love the part about teaching in a non-tested subject area and how that frees you up to really teach with your philosophy of education. That is a lens I will use as I go back to a school site next year and teach computer science. No grades so I can focus on what matters.


  3. denegainey

    Excellent post. I was just writing about this in one of my doctors classes. It’s bad enough when students are reduced to numbers but when teachers are too, it really sheds light on a truth if not checked and changed, at least in the US.



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