by Martha Ann Todd
Donald Davis, nationally renowned storyteller, speaks often of a magical year in fourth grade with Miss Daisy as his teacher. During that year, Miss Daisy's forty-second, Donald and his classmates took a trip around the world - without ever leaving the classroom. Miss Daisy completely captivated a heterogeneous, inclusive group of fourth graders and challenged them to grow and learn beyond all expectations using an integrated curriculum. Cooperative teams, and differentiated learning that was planned based on analysis of student assessment. She engaged her students' imaginations and expected them to effectively analyze problems, to apply learning to real life situations, and to generate multiple solutions. Miss Daisy, in a past era and without knowledge of any of our current educational vocabulary, created a positive, academically challenging learning environment that must have puzzled her colleagues and was most likely a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience for her students. While we would not want to adopt all of Miss Daisy' methods as related in the story, and certainly we could add quite a few strategies and techniques to her repertoire today, the spirit of exploration and excitement of learning that Donald Davis took away from fourth grade is one that we would like every student in Georgia to experience.
As we work together to develop, pilot, and implement the new teacher evaluation system, there are quite a few lessons from Miss Daisy that we might be well served to keep in mind. The TKES performance standards capture and expand upon the technical aspects and spirit of Miss Daisy's work with Donald Davis's class years ago. One of our challenges is to breathe life into Georgia's new evaluation system so that it becomes an opportunity and vehicle to provide the professional learning and growth opportunities needed to support Georgia teachers in becoming the most effective teachers possible, while at the same time providing the required once-a-year measure of teacher effectiveness. Our teachers and our students should be excited about and engaged in their own learning opportunities, just as Donald Davis and his classmates were.
Within the Great Teachers & Leaders section of RT3, Georgia committed to the development and implementation of a teacher evaluation system that would improve the overall conditions of teaching and learning, and that would improve the quality of current classroom teachers. Over the past several months, the GaDOE the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Division has worked with the RT3 districts to prepare for the January-May 2012 pilot of the Teacher Keys Evaluation System and take a giant step toward fulfilling the RT3 commitment. As the work has progressed, the collaborative teams have successfully met several aggressive deadlines, have successfully cleared some major hurdles, have identified a few new challenges, and - most of all - have generated an excitement for the work that is about to begin with the pilot!
The partnership between GaDOE and the twenty-six RT3 districts has made possible many accomplishments this fall. Some of the milestones we have met together are listed below.
- Teacher Keys Evaluation System handbooks for the 2012 pilot have been completed, printed, and delivered to the RT3 districts.
- Evaluator training on TKES has been conducted with over 1,800 principals and district leaders.
- Many supporting materials, including PowerPoints and scripts, to support TKES orientation, familiarization, and implementation during the pilot have been developed and made available to the RT3 districts.
- Student learning objectives have been developed, supported by multiple training and work sessions, and submitted for GaDOE review and approval in preparation for the January-May 2012 pilot.
Presentations have been made to multiple audiences of stakeholders and media representatives to communicate the great work the partnering RT3 districts have begun.
Martha Ann Todd serves as the Director for the Division of Teacher and Leader Effectiveness at the Georgia Department of Education.