Sharing ideas on Education, Leadership and Life

Monday, February 21, 2011

Teacher Evaluation and Teacher Professional Development

There has been a lot of discussion on Twitter about this concept. I would like to thank @justintarte for taking the lead on this discussion.

Here are some of my quick thoughts:

1. We need to change the culture- Too often teacher evaluations have been seen by teachers as being a very top down process.The Principal evaluates the teacher, fills out a checklist without any type of conversation or follow up. If one of the ideas and skills we need to be promoting as 21st century schools is that of collaboration then the evaluation process must be a collaborative one consisting of several conversations between the teacher and the administrator.
2.The goal of any effective evaluation process or P.D.program must be teacher growth. We as educational leaders should want to see our teachers grow and help them maximize their potential.Therefore the process is not one of “Got You” but rather one of facilitating growth. One of the qualities we need to have as educational leaders is that of humility and we should want to see our teachers succeed.
3. We need to differentiate the process to meet the needs of the individual teacher. A one size fits all professional development plan doesn’t work.Teachers need to feel that the process is worthwhile and meaningful to them.

I will admit that I am in a private school and don’t have the same mandates that many of my colleagues have with regard to the evaluation process and the necessary paper work that is often associated with it.

However I would suggest that to create a culture of learning and growing, we as the educational leaders need to set the example. We need to create an environment that people are comfortable with taking risks and one that leads to growth and not teacher frustration and burnout.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Personal Message: Please Join Me

Editors Note: I know that I am preaching to the choir since most people that read this are on Twitter already.

In the past week much has been made of the fact that as an Orthodox Jewish Educator living in Memphis TN. that I have over 1,300 followers on Twitter. Yes I am still amazed and humbled by this fact and at times when I am asked why people follow me I have a tough time answering.
However when I am asked why I tweet or what I tweet about the answer is easy. I tell people I mostly tweet about education and leadership and through my exposure on Twitter I have grown as an educator. I have created a group on the EDUPLN web site ( for Judaic Studies teachers, I have joined and presented for Connected Principles, and most importantly I have developed an amazing PLN.
The message I have to my fellow educators is join me on this amazing journey. Get a Twitter account, follow other educators, join the EDUPLN,and start a blog. The sky is the limit and the wealth of knowledge out there is amazing. Why reinvent the wheel if it has been done already. I read an article yesterday in which @NMHSPrincipal is mentioned and tells how teachers in his school are sharing and asking for lesson plans via twitter. How cool is that!
There are many great things about Twitter; the sense of collaboration, friendship, and an overall safe environment where taking risks is encouraged. However the greatest thing is a sense of sharing and humility. People are willing to share ideas with others. Too often teachers and administrators seek honor and credit and therefore lack the trait of humility and are unwilling to share. If the 21st Century is the time that we need to focus on people skills and leadership as expressed in the books “Curriculum 21” and “The Leader In Me”, and if the right brain will truly rule with traits like empathy as mentioned in Daniel Pink’s book “A Whole New Mind” then we as educators need to model these traits and I believe sharing ideas and working together with others is a great place to start and that is the culture that exists on Twitter.

There are definitely issues with how Social Media should be used but in my honest opinion if the culture created by educators and leaders on Twitter was modeled in our schools we would be well on the way to educating the future leaders of 21st Century.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bottom Line: Good Teaching is Good Teaching

Last week I read an article by @plugusin titles “Good Teaching Trumps Good Tools”. Which basically said that you could have all the technology in the world but if you are not using it to teach the skills that our students need then you are doing worse than a teacher meeting those skills and needs with less technology. Here is a quote from the article "Effective teachers have discovered is that good tools can make learning more efficient.” The article ends with the following quote “The key to finding tools you can't live without is to think through the kinds of skills your students can't live without.

Here is a link to the article:

Then today Tom Whitby (@tonwhitby) sent out the following tweet with a link to a video that honestly challenged many of my educational beliefs.

RT@tomwhitby A video to talk about: "Learning Styles Don't Exist" #Edchat #EduCon-

The video shows that according to Professor Daniel T Willingham the age old assumption that some students are visual learners vs. auditory, doesn’t really exist the way many teachers have assumed it does.
I think the video definitely gives one cause to think and reflect but that is not the purpose or topic of this post. What struck me was how the video ended.

Here is the final quote “Good teaching is good teaching and teachers do not need to adjust their teaching tot the individual students learning styles.” Professor Daniel T Willingham Dept of Psychology University of Virginia

Well I am not a big fan of coincidences, and the common denominator is that Good teaching is the key and what is really important.

Yes we need to use Technology and other tools like voice threads, blogs and Google docs just to name a few.

But at the end of the day all of these tools don’t replace good teaching. Give me good teaching over good technology any day.