Infusion Matrix/REAL Education

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InfusionMatrix: Enhancing Educator Effectiveness

Progress in any endeavor is marked by the ability to adapt to change and overcome deficiency. This is true in both entrepreneurship, and education. In the same manner that entrepreneurs must remain flexible enough to perpetually pivot, educators must readily adjust instructional strategies to ensure students are learning what they need to know to be successful. Teachers modify lesson plans in the same way entrepreneurs adjust business plans. Both develop methods they felt were solid – until real world application highlighted deficiency in their approach. Small businesses who fail to adjust cease to exist, but what happens when a teacher fails to meet the needs of their students? Well-designed evaluation systems are the only way administrators can reliably determine educator effectiveness, but no matter the approach, there are constraints to consider when implementing them.

To understand the educator evaluation process, one must become familiar with the duties of a school administrator. When dealing with day to day operations ranging from building issues, to student discipline, to parent conversations, etc... administrators are often overwhelmed by a variety of constraints on their time. Educator evaluation is one of their most critical, and time consuming duties. To be effective, they must develop the capacities to conduct rigorous observations and evaluations.

In an ideal evaluation cycle, administrators must make time to preconference with teachers, approve or reject their plans, observe them implementing the strategy, and then follow up to communicate results of both formative and summative evaluations in a manner that provides meaningful and actionable feedback. Teachers must then use what they’ve learned to target areas of weakness, and adjust instructional strategies to increase student success. This data must all be tracked, recorded, and reported each year. It is a difficult, time intensive process that very few districts have managed to implement well.

Most educators are constantly working to improve their ability to develop rapport with students, create meaningful curriculum, and implement instructional strategies that help them learn and grow. These are all-consuming tasks that are often combined with ongoing - often ineffective - professional development that creates even more demands on their time. Most administrators also work tirelessly to create and implement a vision of how best to serve both students and staff. Regardless of hard work and good intentions, they are the first to be ridiculed if the culture of their school fails to demonstrate success.

Education is a tough career path no matter how you look at it, so how might we ensure everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goal? Teachers and administrators must be allowed to collaborate and define the indicators that demonstrate student success. Districts must be allowed to recognize and consider existing constraints, define performance measures, set the rating thresholds, and consistently iterate their evaluation systems. Only then will the most effective approaches be demonstrated and identified.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was approved by Congress in December 2015. The act provided states and districts autonomy to design and implement educator evaluation systems independent of federal guidelines. This means districts now can design and implement evaluation systems that measure indicators they feel are most critical to student success. With freedom comes responsibility, so districts must now work to ensure their evaluation approach uses multiple measures that identify effective teachers, while providing guidance and training for those who fail to meet student needs.

Now that states and districts have more freedom to design their own systems, how might they collaborate to measure incremental student growth over time? How might they work together to design, implement, revisit, and iterate educator evaluation systems that are efficient and effective? How might they utilize cutting edge technologies to achieve the goal of enhancing educator effectiveness to increase student achievement? InfusionMatrix: Enhancing Educator Effectiveness.