This week, I completed training for the new Ohio Teacher Evaluation System. Why? If this is how I am to be evaluated in the near future, I feel I need to know exactly how it works. Truthfully, I was not happy about giving up three precious days in my summer to learn about this-even my husband called me a crab the morning of the first day. If it were a workshop on curriculum or writing strategies or how to incorporate tech in my classroom, I know my attitude would have been very different and I would have been excited to go. No, this did not excite me in the very least; heading out the door that first day, a root canal would have been more enticing. But, I went, knowing it was one of those experiences in life in which I would dread going, but would appreciate that I did it once it was over.
Well, I survived the three days of training and am glad it is over, but also thankful I went. Overall, there are aspects of OTES which I like and those with which I do not agree. But because I want to stay positive, I will focus on what I feel are the two most important benefits to the system:
*It encourages much conversation between teacher and admin. Anyone who is in education knows how crazy a school day can be, so taking the time to sit down and having a discussion about what you are doing in your classroom can definitely be moved to the back burner on most days. This system requires that the communication is happening on a consistent basis. This is so important to keeping lines of communication open between teachers and admin; it fosters positive and professional working relationships, which only benefits the students (and is the true reason we are in education, a sentiment that sometimes gets forgotten with the politics and firestorms constantly surrounding the field of education these days).
*OTES allows teachers to get true and authentic feedback. I’ve been teaching in some capacity for over fifteen years and would never begin to call myself an expert; I am always changing and trying to improve as a teacher. I personally feel like I constantly need someone to observe my practice and give me suggestions and feedback so I can become a better educator. OTES requires that this happens with two 30-minute formal evals and walk-throughs throughout the school year. I really appreciate this! Because of time constraints, admin usually have to focus much of their time and energy with teachers who need more help, many times not worrying about the effective teachers because they are doing a ‘good’ job without any help. I get it, because that is something I see happening in classrooms as well; teachers spend the majority of their time with the kids who are struggling, assuming the other students are doing well on their own. It’s a matter of a lack of time in the school day and trying to prioritize what is most important to tackle first. But OTES fosters this feedback, encouragement and constructive criticism for all teachers, regardless of their strengths and weaknesses. That is truly a positive.
Again, there are portions of the evaluation system I do not like, nor with which I agree. But, overall, I’m glad that I completed the training and would encourage other educators to do the same if able. I feel more informed and ready for OTES once it comes into play and will not have to rely on others’ interpretation of it to understand all of its elements.