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Your Views: Evaluations dont factor in art of teaching
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Your article on the Teacher Keys evaluation system was accurate, but failed to discuss the critical issue; that is, is it possible to evaluate teaching using any evaluation tool regardless of its sophistication or intricacy? There are at least a few loud voices in the field of education, mine included, which reject the fundamental concept of teacher evaluation through an objective measurement device.

I would argue instead that teaching is an art form, not a science, and that art forms are intrinsically not measurable. Using Teacher Keys to evaluate teachers is like taking a checklist with you into the museum as you study great (or truly terrible paintings) or like taking some elaborate form with you to a concert to help you evaluate the quality of the performance. The activity itself diminishes your appreciation for the art you evaluate.

The quality of an art form is in the eye of the beholder — in the case of education, the student, and to some extent, their parents or caregivers. All of us who have been exposed in our own educational careers to great teachers should recognize that the best teachers often do not follow widely adopted or traditional methods of instruction. Their giftedness cannot be readily encapsulated in 30-minute observations or 10 indicators. Their real impact is not measured by standardized assessments, but in lives lived and kindnesses practiced.

The current mentality of teacher evaluation may eliminate the very worst of instructors, although in my experience, even that is untrue. Truly incompetent and hurtful teachers manage to make their way through such evaluations and keep their jobs, sometimes for decades. What this evaluation will accomplish is that it will attempt to standardize that which should not be standardized to begin with. It will make teachers afraid to be creative; it will burden the educational system still further with meaningless bureaucracy; it will be yet another initiative of “this too will pass.”

If teaching is seen as an art, we will find those who are called to practice that art. Until we see it in that way, we will continue to make expensive, difficult and time-consuming efforts to improve the product, all to little purpose and marginal success.

Ron Walker
Gainesville

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