Thursday, July 9, 2009

Globe blogger on grading teachers

K-W area Globe and Mail blogger Kathy Dobson posted this Wednesday on her 'A Parent's View' blog hosted off the site. She argues she should be able to 'grade' her sons' teachers in a similar fashion to how they grade students.
Instead, there would be a section for 'Teaching Enthusiasm.' Do they share the subject matter with clarity and passion? Do they convey a sense of excitement about what they're teaching?
And most importantly, do they actually like teaching?
Do they even like kids?
There would also be a mark for 'Teaching Methods.' For instance, do they believe that using sarcasm with students is an effective tool? Did they ever abuse their power over students?
Then there would be the usual report card stuff.
How many times were they late? How many times were they absent? Do they show respect for others? And bring a healthy lunch and snacks to school?
And just like any report card, there would be a 'Comments Section.' It would list those crucial strengths/weaknesses/next steps.
Do they use visual and verbal cues to convey the meaning of familiar material? Do they make effective use of their free time? For example, do they use their 'spare(s)' to grade papers in order to return materials to (especially) their high school students in a timely manner?
There would also be that critical third page. The 'Response Form.' The page where the teacher would have the opportunity to evaluate their report card and, in turn, evaluate the parents of their students.
The teacher could note, with specific examples, where they believe the parent failed to support the teacher's work with the student.
This provides some interesting fodder to the post on the Macleans' piece on 'bad teachers,' where a few readers are getting a little excited in their commentary. The comments after Dobson's post at the site are also illuminating.
As I mentioned earlier, grading a teacher can be even more subjective than grading a student. However, if you feel the need there are plenty of websites that already exist where you could go and vent. I wonder if Dobson's aware of these?
Also, I wonder whether there's any thought here to a process? If I had concerns with my child's teacher, I would first address these with the teacher, then the principal. Document, create a paper trail. Of course, I would have to be open to being challenged and having my child's behaviour challenged as well-- something that's difficult for many parents to accept: that their children's behaviour may be colouring the view their teacher is 'bad.'