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#EDFIX: Amplifying Teacher Voice on Education Reform

by Allison Rizzolo

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Far too often, even the most well-intentioned education policies fall short due to a lack of consideration for the views of teachers. Last Thursday, a new platform launched to help amplify teacher voice in education reform. #EdFix, a Twitter-hosted chat, aims to provide a space for teachers to talk about how they can help fix the education system and play a role in addressing the many sticky issues involved in doing so.

Public Agenda has worked to bring teachers (and lots of other stakeholders) to the table on K-12 education issues for decades. Our most recent effort, Everyone at the Table, a collaboration with American Institutes for Research, houses free resources designed specifically to engage teachers on teacher evaluation.

The absence of teacher voice is especially acute in evaluation reform, and we have seen the fall-out in districts across the country, where top-down evaluation plans have faltered due to unrealistic expectations or elements that are ineffectual or even controversial.

In our effort to get teachers to the table on evaluation reform, the kick-off chat for #EdFix focused on the issue. Darren Burris, Boston-based teacher and facilitator for the chat, asked the participating teacher Tweeters to share what worked in their particular evaluation plans and what didn’t, as well as what they wanted to be evaluated on and who they thought should do the evaluation.

Participating teachers found common ground on a number of things. Many tweeted that clear criteria was important for meaningful evaluation.

“All teachers need to know exactly what the criteria mean.” - @janarausch

“I’ve found that teacher evaluations that focus on specific criteria (with examples) tend to be beneficial,” - @mcoaty

Teacher Tweeters also agreed that a foundation of trust was fundamental to the process, especially if peer or unannounced evaluation were to be part of the plan.

“#Edfix for teacher evaluation is to hold principals accountable for co-creating a culture of trust and knowing their teachers,” - @dgburris

“When relationships and trust exist, walk-throughs are more effective than formal observations done two or three times a year,” - @scott_kapla

“Exactly, trust is the only way it works. We use peer observations to help build trust,” - @blocht574

“In a climate of trust, peer evals can be a beneficial tool. It starts with leadership,” - @mcoaty

A few teachers also tweeted that effective evaluation needed to come from a collaboration between teachers and education leaders.

“I worry that the teacher voice is lacking. One-sided by principals. Teachers and principals need to partner on an evaluation,” - @PeterMDewitt

“The teacher voice is often enabled by the education leaders in the school. Communicating collaboration and support is key,” - @mcoaty

Founded by Teach Plus and Everyone at the Table, #EdFix will take place every other Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET. The next #EdFix will take place Thursday, July 26th.

Teachers, is there a topic you’d like to talk about during a future #EdFix? Or would you like to facilitate a future conversation? Tweet us at @PublicAgenda with hashtag #EdFix, or email Allison Rizzolo at Want to join but unsure how a Twitter chat works? Check out this link for some useful advice. Hope to Tweet with you soon!


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