Damon Buffum is a school board member in NY state and a supporter of a strong public education system. This post is republished with his permission.
Full disclosure: I’m a Corporate Guy. For the past 26 years I’ve worked for large, multinational, corporations. I’ve worked for my current corporation for the past 19 years and I drink, sleep, and live a corporate (professional) life. I use data extensively. It shows me the current status of my business, the trends over time, the strengths and the gaps. I can then apply resources to improve areas that show the need for improvement.
As a leader of a professional team, I use multiple measures for my evaluations (as I’m also evaluated). These measures include business metrics and stakeholder feedback, but primarily come from direct observation. I spend time with my team, we discuss goals and objectives, I watch them execute, and then I give them feedback on what I saw and provide a couple of comments on things that could be considered. I always say, “you can’t be a hitting coach in baseball and never watch your players swing the bat.”
So I’ve been on the school board for 2 years now (5 total but in different districts). I can firmly say, there’s is almost nothing similar between the education and corporate world. Children are not binary, families are not a controlled environment and educational “output” is not easily or fully quantified in the short term (and may not manifest itself until years later).
However… Leadership, development and evaluation principals are consistent across any profession. Effective leadership involves creating a shared vision, common and clear goals, trust, regular communication and feedback, coaching for improvement, professional enablement and direct observation of every individual. There’s mutual buy-in and accountability to this relationship. As a “Manager,” my most important asset is the team that I support. Their professional capabilities, confidence and empowerment is what makes me successful and what makes the organization work. Without my team, we would be nothing. My role, as a manager, is to enable them, communicate with them, give them regular feedback and support and, occasionally, provide constructive feedback to do a course correction.
Sorry for being wordy… but the current Teacher evaluation being implemented (and being reformed) in NY is a bunch of *&#$. It does not adhere to anything I’ve ever known and is the exact text book of “what not to do” if you want to be an effective leader or stay in business. It is bad for the individual, bad for the organization and, ultimately, bad for our children.
This article, “The teacher ratings system is a farce,” explains the details. The teacher writing it says:
It’s a disgrace that members of the Assembly and Senate, who have no idea who my kids are or what they need, are charged with not only telling me what to teach, but also judging me on factors having nothing to do with whether or not I’m doing my job well.
I will not let a test tied to untested Common Core standards determine the future of my students. I will continue to teach them what they need. I will continue to do everything I deem necessary to make them share my love of the English language.
As a School Board member, this rating system is, indeed, a complete farce and damaging to “my team” of district educators. I’m against it.