Guest Blog from Stephanie Thetford, Okaloosa Teacher of the Year and TOY Finalist

Change in education is like change in life; there will be bumps along the road when progress is being made. Right now the road seems very bumpy concerning how the individual districts are going to handle the new evaluation system. Certainly, the state foreshadowed these events considering we have three years before the system will be tied to our pay. In the next three years, we educators, the counties and the state have the difficult but rewarding process of creating AND implementing change. As a teacher, I know times are difficult and I question what is going to happen to the profession that I love. I truly believe once the road becomes more stable, things will be better for Florida educators, the children we teach and, thus, our society.

I teach in Okaloosa County. The district staff here have been wonderful about keeping us apprised of how they plan on implementing the new evaluation system. First of all, last spring my district assembled a Race to the Top committee comprised of teachers, administrators and union members. Together, they decided Okaloosa County would use the Charlotte Danielson’s framework model as part of the new evaluation process. Our RTTT committee has had several intensive trainings on the model, with some of these meetings consisting of consultants from Danielson’s own group visiting our county. Another aspect of successful implementation is assuring and reassuring teachers of the support they will be given. To do this, the county taped then showed a very detailed video which was played at each of the schools within the county on the first day of pre-planning. The video detailed how teachers would be evaluated this year, thus helping to ease the process into effect with knowledge and examples. The county plans on using more videos throughout the school year to disseminate information on the evaluation system. Another way the county is helping teachers have a more thorough knowledge of the evaluation system is through built in half-day duty release days once a month set up in our school calendar for all schools. These in-service days will be used to better inform and train teachers on the new evaluation system.

How has your county been keeping you apprised of how they plan on implementing the new evaluation system?

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