Should a teacher in 2014 be judged on his/her ability to use technology when being evaluated on his/her effectiveness as a teacher?
This past week on Twitter, #edchat discussed the teacher evaluation. There was much discussion on whether or not a principal is able to judge a teacher’s abilities if they are not educated in the subject they are observing. I think most who commented agreed that principals are trained to spot good teaching. Good teaching engages students. If the principal or supervisor visits the class enough times, they will see the true teacher. The problem is that principals, especially in Public School systems, are often not freed up with enough time to be in classes on a regular basis.
Observations are only a part of what a teacher is judged on. We have other responsibilities that must be evaluated. Are we on time? Are we reporting accurately and reporting in a timely manner? Do we communicate with parents effectively? Can we use the technology tools and resources that our classrooms are filled with?
Some would argue that our use of technology should not be something we are judged on. After all, can’t teachers deliver a complete lesson without using technology? Of course they can. But when we are teaching students for the 21st century, aren’t we doing them a disservice if we can’t show how technology can be used effectively in the classroom?
Teachers teach. We do this by being in a class, delivering material through a multitude of modalities. We talk face to face with our students to help them discover new ideas, we help them find solutions to problems, we even help them create masterpieces. A good teacher can do all these things without the aid of a computer. So therefore why should I be judged on my ability to use one?
Most of our student use a computer or hand-held device to gain new knowledge. They need the teacher to help them weed through the relevant and irrelevant information.
Most of our students solve problems by using their computers or hand-held devices. They need us to help them figure out which site, tool, or app would be the best for them to use to find their solution. They need us to help them figure out the best way of presenting their solutions.
Most students use their computers and handheld devices to create their masterpieces. They need us to coach them through the creative process. Sometimes that means editing their work using a shared Google doc. Sometimes it means video taping them as they discuss their portfolio of work to share with an IB examiner thousands of miles away. Sometimes it means that we must show them new ways to create using digital tools.
So yes, teachers should be judged on their ability to communicate, instruct, and mentor students using digital tools. To deny the roll of technology in the delivery of information in the classroom just makes one seem out of touch. To deny the roll of digital tools in the creative process makes one seem archaic. Yes, you can teach without the digital tools in our first world classrooms, but shouldn’t we have to show our aptitude for using the resources given to us to communicate in the 21st Century?