Jul 26, 2011

Let's Celebrate, Reward And Learn From Successful Teaching [Or, I Was Rated Awesome By A Flawed Measure!]

Eric Bethel previously taught fourth, fifth and sixth grade in the DC Public School system, where he currently serves as an elementary master educator. In this position, he helps evaluate and provide feedback to his peers. Eric holds a B.A. in Sociology and an M.A. in Elementary Education, both from Mount Saint Mary’s University.

As I reflect on my experiences teaching under IMPACT, the Washington, D.C. teacher evaluation system first introduced in 2009, one of my proudest moments was being recognized as a highly effective teacher.

It was a great feeling to know that my school district finally had the capacity to identify and recognize its teachers for the quality of their work with children. It marked the end of an era where teachers were invisible to those outside their classroom walls, and no one celebrated the tremendous feat of delivering high-quality instruction. Doing a great job always meant something to my students and their families, but now officials in my school district signaled clearly that it meant something to them too. What's more, they wanted to learn from it.

Beyond the obvious benefits of the financial rewards that were attached to being highly effective under the D.C. system, the recognition and appreciation that I received provided a renewed energy. The designation resulted in professional growth opportunities, such as offers to participate in mission-critical focus groups or invitations to apply for exciting programs. One such invitation led to a six-week fellowship working with our school leaders at the district's central office. These types of experiences simply didn't exist in the system of old. I found my morale and commitment to our mission at an all-time high.

As I look at the recent release by D.C. Public Schools of this year's IMPACT data, I immediately think about the 600 plus highly effective teachers that will be honored and recognized for their outstanding work.

It is my hope that the recognition, appreciation, and compensation that those teachers will now receive will inspire and encourage them to continue to charge forward in the same way that it did for me. Those successes, which have been overshadowed in the media by tough personnel decisions to separate underperforming teachers from the system, are worth talking about, learning from and celebrating. While it's important to usher out those who aren't effectively helping students learn, we must also shine the spotlight on those who are moving students towards success and serving as models of excellence for others.

I'm extremely proud of our teachers and just as proud of our district for recognizing them.

The views presented on our guest blogs are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of StudentsFirst. We thank all of our guest bloggers for their thoughtful perspectives.

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