A New Approach for Teacher Evaluation?

By now, we have become keenly aware of the President’s novel approach for providing performance feedback to his subordinates via Twitter. Rather than engaging in uncomfortable face-to-face meetings in private, President Trump prefers to simply tweet out excoriating and humiliating barbs about his trusted advisors to millions of followers on social media.

It seems to be working splendidly.

Just this week, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus were both compelled to resign after being publicly lambasted by the President and his new communications director, Anthony Scaramuchi (a.k.a. “The Mooch”). To illustrate the level of rancor, Scaramuchi – in a bizarre nighttime phone interview with a reporter from The New Yorker magazine – referred to his White House colleague as a “*!@king paranoid schizophrenic.”

Talk about getting thrown under the Priebus. (sorry, I couldn’t resist)

Former US Senator and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, one of Trump’s earliest supporters, has also now found himself in the President’s Twitter crosshairs, due to what most experts consider to be Sessions’s legally responsible decision to recuse himself from the investigation over possible Russian election meddling.

In a series of tweets over the past few days, President Trump has engaged in a one-sided battle against his attorney general, criticizing his inaction in investigating former rival, Hillary Clinton, and referring to the AG as “very weak” and “beleaguered.”

It’s Trump Leadership 101, right? Everyone knows the surest way to build trust and grow and inspire your people is through humiliation and threats.

So, the whole thing got me thinking. Would the Trump approach work in education?

One of the chief complaints about our new teacher evaluation systems is the inordinate time required to complete all of the observations and evaluation forms, schedule one-on-one meetings with dozens of teachers, develop individual goal setting plans, and manage personal development plans to help support struggling teachers.

Let’s be honest – who’s got that kind of time?

Instead of this laborious, inefficient system, why not follow the Trump model?

It’s so simple it makes you wonder why it hasn’t been tried before.

We will simply require each school leader to open a Twitter or Instagram account to provide timely feedback to his or her teachers anytime. Why wait until a twice-a-year evaluation meeting to give meaningful feedback to staff when you can simply blast out actionable critiques in 140 characters or less, 24/7?

If I wake up at 3:00 a.m. upset about something I observed in a teacher’s classroom, I can tweet it out right then – even while sitting on the toilet. There’s no need to wait. When the teacher wakes up and checks her Twitter feed the next morning, she will see that I am upset and immediately focus on being a better teacher that day. And that’s just good for kids.

Other teachers in the building will benefit from reading the harsh criticism of others and work harder to avoid being targeted themselves. If they also don’t like a particular teacher, they can “like” the post and add their own biting comments and retweet it to all their followers. Before you know it, we will have a highly effective approach for shaming our under-performers and coercing improved performance and greater loyalty from the rest.

Hopefully, the end result will be that the ostracized teachers resign on their own accord, saving school administrators hundreds of hours counseling poor teachers out the door and school districts tens of thousands of dollars in possible legal fees and unemployment claims.

It’s genius, don’t you think?

I whipped up a few examples to illustrate how effective this approach might be.

What do you think? In only about five minutes, Principal Jones was able to provide feedback to a half-dozen teachers without ever having to look at their face or listen to their whining.

Now that I think of it, there’s only two reasons I can think of why we shouldn’t give the Trump method of performance feedback a try.

First, because it is abhorrent, repulsive, unprofessional, and undignified. And secondly, because it would also destroy trust and respect between educators and obliterate school culture.

Other than that, I think the Trump Model is a great approach.

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