OTES in Action

#WalkthroughsThis year in Worthington we are fully implementing the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System with all of our teachers.  The Ohio Teacher Evaluation System is a process that was born out of legislation and requires that 50% of a teachers evaluation be based on teacher performance in the classroom (principal observation) and 50% based on student growth measures (student test scores).

The third requirement is that every teacher is evaluated every year using this process.  Previously in Worthington, beginning teachers, and teachers up for a new contract, were observed and evaluated twice a year.  Veteran teachers were placed on a three year observation cycle.  The whole system is a major change but the third requirement is a significant increase in the number of principal observations and evaluations that must be completed.  Our internal data shows that the number of observations and evaluations completed by our principals this year is triple the number it was in years previous.

We believe in providing staff members with constant feedback on their performance and thus we welcome this change.  However, time is an issue for everyone, and with the new system everyone needed to play a bigger part in evaluating teachers.  Thus this year, because there is no principal at Phoenix Middle School (we have a teacher leader), I am evaluating half of the teaching staff (8 teachers).

As I have begun this process I have several observations.  First, the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System’s focus on teacher performance is really strong.  The process requires teachers to meet standards on a rubric that helps all teachers focus on Formative Instructional Practices.  It’s a great tool!  Second, from a personal standpoint I am enjoying spending more time in a school building and connecting with teachers on a personal level to do important work.  I love my current role, but I do miss working as a school principal with a group of committed teachers doing the real work.  Finally, as I complete my first set of walkthroughs I wish you were there with me.  I am convinced that if the public could spend significant time watching our teachers they would be amazed at their focus, their ability to meet students where they are, their depth of thinking about instruction and student learning, and the work that our students produce.  We have GREAT teachers and watching them work is a true joy.

The Ohio Teacher Evaluation System is not all positive.  I’m only evaluating 8 teachers but those 8 teachers will require, at a minimum, 56 individual meetings this school year.  (Goal Setting, SLO Approval, Fall Pre-Conference, Fall Post-Conference, Spring Pre-Conference, Spring Post-Conference, Data Submission and Final Rating.)  Furthermore, I will spend an additional 20 hours observing in classrooms for formal observations and walkthroughs, and at least 25 further hours writing up documents and entering them into the state system, eTPES.  Likely this is the most important work that I could be doing and it’s an excellent use of my time, but it does mean I’m not available to do the things I may have been doing last year.  Certainly I’m not complaining.  We have several principals with upwards of 30 teachers to evaluate under this system and we still need them to work with students and families as well as serving as instructional leaders and managers of their school buildings.

Last year I wrote about this new system.  Periodically this year I will provide some updates on how the implementation is going from my first person perspective.  We used to talk about OTES coming.  It’s now here, and all across Worthington the lives of teachers and administrators have changed.

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