How to Truly Evaluate Your Child’s Teacher
Because my mom is a teacher, I grew up knowing the importance of education and the gift I was being given by each one of my teachers. Even though I did not mesh well with a couple of them, I knew that I needed to make sure that I could continue my education after high school and beyond.
She was in college while I was in elementary school. In fact, she graduated the same year I graduated the 5th grade. It was a BIG deal! She used to take me to her college classes with her and buy me and my sister folders with USI printed on them. She would let me design the cover of her binders and tell me all of the things she learned in her classes. Some of my fondest memories of my childhood were tagging along with her and “helping” her decorate a classroom.
When she obtained her teaching job, I was about to start the 8th grade. I remember being so proud of her and the fact that my mom was a teacher now. To me, a teacher was a rock star; therefore, my momma was a rock star.
It is no surprise that I ended up becoming a teacher, myself. When you factor in all of the other influences in my life on my journey to becoming a teacher, there was no doubt that this is where I would end up. I had some amazing teachers, mostly in the writing field, which is why I love it so much.
It is all over the news and the internet that teacher’s are being evaluated differently than they were before. Thankfully, I am fortunate enough to work in a school system where teachers are valued and taken care of and a school where I am supported and respected. Many times, though, I will be sitting in an office somewhere or in a checkout line, or even scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and I will see or hear conversation that is negative towards teachers. I cannot help but wonder when teachers went from being rock stars to the target of a blaming pointed finger.
To me, as a teacher who has been raised by a teacher and inspired by many teachers, there is so much more to base a teacher’s worth and evaluation on than a test score from one week of a school year.
Does the student look forward to coming to the teacher’s class?
It is easy to think that if a kid likes a class, it’s because it has a lot of free time and the teacher does not hold a student accountable. From conversations I have had with high school and middle school students, they really do not like those classes. The classes they love are the ones that the teacher has control and manages well and provides engaging lessons.
I think about my freshman year: my history teacher had us watch movies and do book work all of the time. I never slept in a class until that one, and I nearly did it on a daily basis. The class that I loved the most was my honors class, so we packed a lot of stuff into each class. It was my English class with Mrs. Viner. Before her, I hated reading assigned texts that I was given by my teachers. She inspired me to fall in love with literature and discover the power of a pen and paper. It was the most difficult class I had ever taken and I loved it because she made us want to learn.
Is the teacher invested in their students?
When my mom graduated college, my second grade teacher came to our house and gave my mother a present. Mrs. Hurst from Newburgh Elementary was my second grade teacher and remembered my mom enough three years later to help celebrate her big accomplishments. It was like the Queen of England was coming to our new little house in Evansville just for us. Mrs. Hurst always supported my mom in her journey, when some would say she would not have had to. She let her come in and read to our class, she called her regularly to offer insight, and was very invested in helping little awkward me become a good person.
She always went above and beyond, as many of my past teachers have, to make sure that we loved what we were doing. She, like many teachers, gave so much of herself and her time. What many people do not realize is that teachers, good teachers, invest extra unpaid hours and spend money to provide pencils, paper, and even lunch money to students. This does not include the hours and dollars spent on creating the most inviting classroom in the school. Most of us are Pinterist addicts!
On that same note, does the teacher know their students?
We collect a lot of data, which gives us an amazing amount of information to use as a tool to differentiate our instruction and provide the best education for each student. With this, we know their strength and weaknesses. We know their reading level and whether they perform better with multiple choice or short answer questions.
It is also important for the teacher to care and connect with their students. They need to know their hobbies, their pet peeves, and any other thing that they can use as a tool to connect the student with the standard or lesson. A teacher who takes all of this into consideration is a good teacher.
Does the teacher have passion?
I dreaded taking Shakespeare and my British literature classes when I was in college. I had absolutely zero interest in them and put off taking them until I had to. Little did I know that I would have two of the best teachers in my education career. They did not only teach me about the subject, but how to be an effective teacher. They both were passionate about their subject, which made it fun and exciting.I ended up taking one of the teachers, Dr. Passmore, two more times, and took the other Shakespeare class that Dr. Conway offered. There is nothing more engaging than a teacher who totally geeks out about what they are teaching you.
Does the teacher push their students?
I never wanted to disappoint the teachers that believed in me and pushed me. My Creative Writing professor in college is and was someone I admired and always craved her approval. If she did not like something I wrote I did everything I had to fix it. In hindsight, I was learning so much about myself as a writer and becoming better one, too. She was never afraid to tell me how it was, and her approval meant everything.
I also had a teacher in high school like that, another English teacher, Mr. Eades. He was also the theater director, so I spent a lot of time with him. He consistently pushed me and had high expectations for me, and I wanted to make sure that I followed through.
Teachers are some of the biggest influences in student’s lives, so we have to make sure that we hold high expectations and help them reach their goals, just like Professor Reid and Mr. Eades did for me.
Test scores are very important. They do help to show if we are doing our jobs and keep us accountable. There is also a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from the pride that overcomes their faces when they see their growth from the data.
But teachers and students are more just a result.
Back to School Expo
School starts in August and we are getting you prepared this July!
On Saturday, July 26, 2014, come out to the 5th annual Back to School Expo at Eastland Mall from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Teachers, parents and children – come check out the the new features for this year’s classroom and students. Maximize your back to school shopping for grade school thru college.