Can Technology Resolve Concerns about Classroom Evaluations?

EdWeek’s newsletter carried an article last week that set off the bells and whistles within me because the subject was one that I have contemplated for several years. During that time I have had the kernel of an idea that I have bounced off of a number of education types with a growing belief that it might just be the answer to many of the concerns expressed in the article (here).

Here it is, in a nutshell.

I have, for a long time, advocated for CCTV w/audio in every classroom. Ouch, that sounds draconian and un-American, doesn’t it? Not really. When you consider the it serves the dual purpose of added security and safety for both the kids and the teachers, there is something to be said for it on that aspect alone.

But it would also offer another added benefit. It would eliminate that gut-wrenching anxiety that the writer describes when the principle or other administrator enters the classroom just as the kid in the third row creates a disturbance.

Oh, I know, the first thing you think of is you are being spied on. Is that really what concerns you? Most teachers complain about the system being unfair and that administrators don’t understand what you go through and all the aspects of teaching students because “they haven’t done it lately.”

What better way for those administrative types to get a truly honest and candid look inside your classroom? I believe there is a lot to be said for continual coverage of the classroom by video and audio, and because it can be monitored remotely, the children and the teachers would not be aware of when it was or was not being used to evaluate them.

Also, by breaking the evaluations up into segments over the course of the school years, one “bad day” when the kids are “cranky” or you had a bad night with your own kid, would be minimally intrusive when it comes to the teachers final evaluation. There is truly no other way for an administrator to gain a clear and honest impression of what routinely goes on – good or bad – in a classroom when they are not there in person because – as the author readily admits – the atmosphere in the classroom immediately becomes “artificial” at the instant the door opens and the principal appears. This is a relatively simple solution with the added bonus of greater security in case of a safety concern.

Another positive comes from such a plan. Teachers would have a terrific tool for self-improvement because they would be able to see themselves from their student’s perspective and learn their own strengths and weaknesses at the same time. What’s not to like? I am certain there will be strong feelings on both sides of this issue, so feel free to leave your thoughts – in civil tones, please – below.

Tom Stark

Tom Stark’s career began with Air Force service, including a year in Thailand and Vietnam, and progressed through a variety of manufacturing and service positions to Manager of Security, Safety, and Transportation for the Orange County (FL) Convention Center. He graduated from Barry University in 1994 and soon after embarked on a second career building custom furniture as an entrepreneur for the last 20 years. He unsuccessfully ran as a Tea Party candidate in the 2010 Congressional race (WV-01). Tom currently writes and advocates for smaller more prudent and less intrusive government, strengthening families and protecting life while building free market principles that make America stronger. He is now 70, retired, and residing with his wife in Weston, West Virginia.

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