Such a hot topic...and one that if you asked 10 different teachers I am sure you would get at least 23 different answers. I'm not 100% confident that I even know what the "ideal" evaluation model would be...but I am confident that it needs to include a combination of many different components...Also, one caveat - teacher evaluations should be done entirely with the focus of improving teacher performance so they can best serve our students. Evaluations should not be an exercise in trying to find the negative and punish, but rather we should continually work to improve our teachers through the evaluations. That's not to say that we can't remove teachers based on these "evaluations" - we can, and we should if necessary. We cannot tolerate inadequacy in our classrooms. However, we need to make sure that these decisions are not based on a couple of observations, or a few data points - we need the big picture, over time.
So, here they are, in no real particular order...
I'll go ahead and get it out of the way - we need to have accountability in all of our schools and among all of our teachers. Though "testing" is a four-letter word that most wouldn't utter in front of their grandmother, I do believe there can be value in the concept. However, I also strongly believe that our current system is so far out of whack and alignment, and that there is way, way too much of an emphasis placed on a few snapshot high-stakes test. That said, I feel there is a role for test scores in teacher evaluation, albeit a small role. How small? I haven't figured that out yet...but, quite small.
Multiple Administration Observations
I'm not talking about the full dog and pony show 52-minute observations that take place 3 schedule times a year. No, not those. Instead, if an administrator wants to know what's going on in the class and how a teacher teaches, well, then they need to get in on the action. Ideally, there would be 4-6 quick (10-15 minute) observations - and not all from the same administrator. The purpose of the observations is NOT to punish - but simply to get a feel for what's going on, and to offer critical advice..."Have you ever considered trying ______?" I feel that the "Danielson Model" for evaluating teachers is quite strong, and it would be good to continue to base observations and expectations around the Danielson Model.
We all know the rock star teachers, the duds, the has-beens, the never-will-be's, and the average Joes in our building. We work side-by-side with them on a daily basis. There can be tremendous value in getting insight and feedback from your peers, especially when those peers watch you and work with you. Again, these evaluations need to be professional and completed with the idea that we're working to improve overall teacher performance...not to punish. 3-4 peer observations and some feedback (evaluations) at the end would be tremendously helpful in achieving this goal. As with the administration observations above, the Danielson Model would be effective here.
Like test scores, student evaluation should play a supporting role in teacher evaluation and should not be the most heavily weighted. However, our primary purpose is to work with our students, to teach them and help them grow. They are our number one customer. If we're not meeting the needs of our students, well, then something needs to change. There was recently a great article in The Atlantic that touched on this very idea, and I really feel there is plenty of value in hearing from our students.
Lastly, I believe it is important that we evaluate ourselves on how well we think we are doing. We constantly strive for our students to be reflective and critical, and we as teachers are constantly reflecting and revising our work, so it's only logical that some form of teacher reflection on their performance is included in their evaluation
On the whole, my ideal teacher evaluation would take into account many different measures from many different people. Only then, I feel, can we truly get a fair and accurate picture of a good teacher. Sure, this is a lot of work, but I feel it's vital. Evaluations like this need not happen annually, as that might be too cumbersome. However, after the initial 3-year probationary period it seems reasonable that every 3 or so years our teachers are re-evaluated. During that time, should issues arise then we work to fix those issues. Should a teacher consistently prove that they are ineffective and that interventions and support are not helping the teacher improve, then we must take responsibility and remove that teacher? Our students' education is too important to be squandered by below average teachers.