Heads: In crisis, position yourself for success

Two recent events in renowned, highly reputable institutions have reverberated through the independent school community.  Both resulted in the Heads of their respective schools leaving their positions. The first was at the Bishop Strachan School in Toronto. Some members of the school community felt that students had not been properly prepared for a theatre performance based on Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. …

Teacher evaluations and the case for specialization

Achieving top-quality teaching, as determined by merit and significance, requires subject specialization from both teachers and evaluators. Michel Scriven defines teacher evaluation as “the process of determining merit, worth or significance.” Merit refers to the quality of the work. Worth is the value of the individual to the organization, which may be greater or less than his merit. In a …

Teacher Evaluations: Merit, Worth and the Courage to Act

One of the greatest influences on my thinking about evaluation is the work of Michael Scriven.  Currently Director of the Claremont Graduate University Claremont Evaluation Center, he has a research, teaching and consulting career extending more than 60 years. I first encountered his ideas when writing my doctoral dissertation in the 90’s, and, after all these years, still find hiswork, whether …

Learning from Teacher Evaluation Experiences

After being involved in all aspects of teacher evaluations for decades, it’s my own experiences that are often the most compelling way of communicating best practice. With that in mind, here are accounts of five evaluations that I personally conducted and what I learned from them. In deference to those who were evaluated and to avoid any possible identification, I …

8 Tips and 2 Tests to stay out of social media trouble

There continue to be so many well publicized cases of people getting into terrible trouble for emails they sent or comments posted on social media. It’s remarkable that many teachers and public figures seem to have not yet learned to protect themselves. One can never be too careful. Whatever is posted, is there forever. It can never be withdrawn. Regardless …

The ROI of Unimportance – A New Year’s Resolution

Regardless of our role in the hierarchy of any organization, whether it is the board chair, the Head of School, a teacher or an administrative assistant, there are always others who need our efficient and timely accomplishment of tasks to enable them to do their jobs more easily. Whether it’s a teacher waiting for an administrator’s permission to undertake an …

Mentoring and evaluation don’t mix

A mentor cannot be a supervisor. It’s just that simple. One of the most important features of mentoring is that it is non-evaluative.   The mentoring relationship only works when the mentee feels able to be completely frank with the mentor, and can share difficulties, doubts and dilemmas, as well as triumphs and successes. Such frankness is not possible with someone …

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3 Myths of Teacher Evaluations

The teacher evaluation process is fraught with misconceptions. Dispelling the myths about teacher evaluation can lead to evaluations that are better understood and that contribute more to a positive school culture and improved school success. Let’s take on three of those myths. Myth #1: Teacher evaluation results in improvement of instruction. Many teacher evaluation policies give as a reason for …

The medium of the message in parent communication

When I was a school administrator, the most frequent complaints I received were around communications. “Why wasn’t I told earlier?” asked a dad unhappy with his child’s report card. Then, less frequently, a mom would complain that a teacher communicates too much. “I don’t want to hear about every bump in the road”, she might say after the umpteenth family …

Making the case for mentoring

You probably know that a mentor, a seasoned fellow professional, can help you be more successful, whether you are a new or an experienced leader. You are probably also aware that a mentor will provide you with valuable, confidential, feedback, make suggestions, and, through discussion, help you arrive at your own insights that will lead to your greater success. While …