In response to Dick Yarbrough’s Jan. 19 column on teacher evaluations, I would like to weigh in as a retired teacher with four years high school, three years university, and almost 20 years junior college experience.
As to teacher evaluation in general, I think most educators nowadays support it and consider it a good thing. Teachers should be evaluated by their students and their supervisors to detect problems, address them and even remove ineffective teachers when there is no other solution. But teacher evaluation alone, no matter how well done, merely addresses one side of the teaching/learning equation.
Learning results from the reciprocal relationship between student and teacher, and only when persistent and competent hard work is done on both sides does the equation yield positive results. The most talented, hard working teacher in the world cannot help students reach the learning objectives of his or her course if the students are not applying themselves by studying, going to labs, attending class, asking questions. By all means ask the question: “How well do your students test?” But also look carefully at the question: “How well did your students work at home?”
In addition to the concentrated efforts of both teacher and student, there must be a positive learning environment devoid of disruptive, disrespectful students who show little or no appreciation for the whole educational endeavor. They have no business there and must be summarily and unapologetically removed.
Finally, the home environment, which involves parental support not only for students themselves but for the school, its teachers, policies and objectives, is paramount. If the state of Georgia wants to improve education in its public schools, it must begin by working with parents. It is no mystery why high schools such as Walton have the highest SAT scores anywhere around. The parents of those students at Walton believe in education as the key to their children’s future and insist on homework being done, school policies adhered to, and education in general valued as way to a better life.
Teacher evaluation is necessary. Everyone’s opinion on how teachers are performing should be considered, but it should be balanced out with equal attention and emphasis on home environment and parental and student acceptance of their responsibilities with regard to the teaching/learning endeavor.