Sunday, February 19, 2017

MTL 528 Blog Post #1: Should Teacher Leaders be Responsible for Evaluating their Peers?

In the business world, a manager is typically responsible for evaluating his/her team which can be comprised of seven or less people.  However, in a school building, the principal is responsible for completing evaluations for the entire staff!  Depending on the size of the building, that could be as many as 100 teacher evaluations.  These expectations are impossible to meet, so another solution is needed...Teacher Leader Evaluators!

According to Linda Hammond (2013), teacher evaluators exist in 13 states through PAR (peer assistance and review) programs.  These teachers, referred to as consulting teachers, have been chosen to evaluate fellow teachers in the same subject area or grade level.  Consulting teachers do not have the authority to approve or reject a teacher for re-hire, this is done through a panel of both consulting teachers and administrators.  Consulting teachers go through an intense selection process, which includes interviews, classroom observations, peer recommendations, and teaching experience.  Consulting teachers are also paid an annual stipend.

After reading the article, “When Teachers Support & Evaluate Their Peers”, I am intrigued by the PAR program.  I’ve always thought that teachers evaluating other teachers was more of a conflict of interests, however I’m starting to change my mind on this topic.  Teachers are much more in tune with what is happening in the classroom and how that relates to the curriculum.  It is very difficult for administrators to stay familiar with all the curriculum programs that are being used in their building.  It does make sense for teachers to evaluate their peers for this reason.  

The primary goal of the PAR program was, “not to get rid of bad teachers but to further develop good ones” (Hammond, p. 27).  When we think about teacher retention rates, being supported by teacher leaders would increase retention rates.  When teachers feel supported they are more likely to take chances in their profession.  Not only do the teachers being observed benefit in this program, but so do the consulting teachers-both groups become better teachers.  So after reading some of the benefits of the PAR program I would be open to the idea of having teacher leaders complete evaluations.

Hammond, L.  (2013).  When teachers support & evaluate their peers.  Educational Leadership, 71(2), 24-29.


  1. Sarah, you raised an important point in your blog and that is about how teacher leadership can successfully encompass peer review and feedback - even summative evaluation. And doing this is not about making the principal's job easier - it is about making teacher evaluation more reliable, valid, and useful! Who better to give us feedback than the peers who are doing the same work in neighboring classrooms? Thanks for an insightful look at a difficult topic in teacher leadership and for changing how your perspective is changing. I'll look forward to reading your next blog.

  2. I just read another blog on the same topic and I had the same feelings as you first had. I worry that the teacher leaders would be isolated in their school. I see your point though, and think that it could work. Teachers have a much better pulse with what is going on in the classroom and with the students. As I am typing this, however, one concern comes to mind. Can teachers objectively evaluate their peers without (albeit inadvertently) bringing in other issues. For example, if there was a teacher who was not a team player or one that didn't contribute in PLCs, would most teacher leaders be able to leave that out of the evaluation? Or should that be a part of the evaluation?

  3. Hi Sarah!
    I really enjoyed reading your blog post as I also wrote about observations and evaluations this week. I loved reading about the PAR program in the magazine that Deb gave us. I do think that teachers should be responsible to observing and evaluating each other because one principal can't be in charge seeing so many people. I also think that it is more fair for teachers to be observed all different types of people with different viewpoints and styles in teaching. However, the big question going through my mind is how do we get this program in the schools that need it the most which are often schools with the fewest resources? I know that this program would greatly benefit my school, but there is no way we would have the money to pay teachers to do something like this. Even give teachers a break in their course load or supervisions would be tough for my school. How can we make this happen??

  4. Hi Sarah!

    I think you bring up several great points on ensuring the observation process can be a more meaningful and reliable evaluation process when your own colleagues are evaluating you. They are the ones that are with you daily and are experts on the curriculum as everyone teaches the same thing. This issue is in our early childhood program as we are in an elementary building (PK-5) and our principal has no background in early childhood. Yes, she has learned a lot in the past 5 years of being our principal but still to not have that early childhood background to provide developmentally appropriate feedback to teachers is hard to swallow. As Tara mentioned in her comment above, it would be great to have your colleagues be held accountable for their actions not only in their classroom but during PLCs. Having your evaluations reflect the teacher you are in and out of the classroom will allow for a cohesive environment for staff and students. The teachers that you work with daily can provide you with the most meaningful feedback. Looking forward to reading more of your posts!


  5. Sarah I really enjoyed your enthusiasm around the PAR program. I agree with your view points on how this will help retain high quality teachers. We have the PAR program at our school. The coaches are responsible for all of the informal observations of our new teachers. They help evaluate them and teach them new skills throughout the year. I liked your connection to the PAR program and point of being supported by other teachers. It is nice that the coaches were very recently teachers and know the workload. This can help novice teachers push through hard times. Does your school use the PAR program?
    I also liked your quote about “not getting rid of bad teachers but furthering the development of good ones”. I think this is a crucial part of the PAR program. It allows for a teacher leader to help sort through the teachers who have potential and the ones who do not. They obviously help each teacher equally, but because they work so closely with these teachers they are really good at finding the good teachers and making them as successful as they can be.

  6. Sarah, Thanks for sharing your thoughts regarding evaluations being done by teacher leaders! You led me to reflect on my own thinking regarding this topic. In my school district, this is our first year hiring reflective coaches to help with observing and giving feedback. However, you bring up having teachers do evaluations as well. I can't help but think that this is still a bit intimidating.. what if the teacher being observed doesn't have the best relationship with the teacher leader? On the the other hand, the same could be same for relationships between teachers and administrators. Additionally, teachers know and understand the demands being asked of them in the classroom and can therefore be more forgiving and have better ideas to help them out. While my principal didn't have a whole lot of tips to help with classroom management, my reflective coach was able to give me more insight and took the time she had to look for resources for me. I think the main difference is that since teachers leaders are still teachers, they have ideas fresh in their minds whereas administrators may not. Thanks again for sharing and I look forward to reading more from you!