New Head Asks Teachers to Evaluate Colleagues

The following comments recently appeared on the ISR Open Forum. We find the content worrisome and thought to share these comments with the greater International Schools Review Community. Your reaction is invited.

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(From the ISR Open Forum)


Identifying Good Teachers & Bad Teachers

by Doctor » Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:48 pm

“I would like to get some feedback from other IS teachers about a question our new head of school has asked.

I’m working at a school in Asia which has been going through some turmoil over the last 2 years. We have gone through 3 heads, and a new head has been appointed for this school year. We are losing students and the projection is that only 75% of our current student body will be returning.

Even before his tenure began, the new head of school paid a visit to the school. He met with the foreign-hire staff and asked us to respond to 2 questions:

Q1. What is good about the school and what is bad about the school?
Q2. Name 3 teachers whom have had a positive effect on the school and name 3 teachers who have not lived up to expectations.

I’d like feedback on the second part of the second question.

I should add, other than that question, everything about the new head is fine: experienced, articulate, professional, but the “name 3 bad teachers” question is really worrying me especially since this is a country that takes all contracts with a grain of salt. It honestly seems inappropriate and the beginnings of a witch hunt.”

Comments? Please scroll down to participate in this Discussion Board.

44 Responses to New Head Asks Teachers to Evaluate Colleagues

  1. Jean McKnight says:

    Evaluating staff is the job of the administration. In my opinion this administrator is shirking his/her duty. You don’t ask administration to grade your students. You don’t ask students to evaluate their peers Why should staff evaluate their colleagues. You have enough to do as teachers taking care of your classrooms. There is not way around this. It’s just wrong.

    Like

  2. Anonymous says:

    Gossip is the worst way to run education in any country. Gossip is the worst way to make professional decisions that affect people’s lives. It is an administrator’s job to obtain comprehensive, professional information on those being supervised using observations and transparent measures, measures that include opportunities for remediation and support that are the responsibility of the administrator to figure out how to provide, and within the context of due process. The Constitution of the United States set the example and framework for this kind of thinking, pretty much The Golden Rule. Get out of work places where gossip trumps professional, respectful, comprehensive information.

    Like

  3. Anonymous says:

    The original scenario explains itself: Enrollment has shrunk by 25 percent (meaning the school must downsize by 25 percent in order to pay its bills) and a new head who doesn’t know anybody has been hired. The new head realizes he/she must fire enough people to lower his/her expenses by 25 percent. He goes to the teachers and says: I don’t know any of you, nor do I know this school, if you were me, who would you let go? GIVEN THIS SCENARIO, IF YOU WERE THE HEAD, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

    Like

  4. Lily says:

    Seriously. Who cares!

    Like

  5. Simon says:

    I would resign right there. This guy will b nothing but problems.

    Like

  6. Sue Gray says:

    This is a very unwise thing to do. Divisive and the key to a very unhappy staff body who are all part of a single team. Promotes mistrust between members of that team. This Head is unwise and clearly stating his intentions to ‘divide and rule’

    Like

  7. If u r more explicit about the school then answering would be easier. Apparently the teachers are to be named whilst the school is to remain annonymous… Hardly fair…

    Like

  8. Anonymous says:

    I have been around for 20 years. I think it is not admissible.
    I reckone 2 occasions, when admin wanted to fire me because of some weak students complain who never wanted to work in spite of my all DIFFERENTIATED approach when I wanted to help them.
    I asked in both cases of reliable teachers who visited my classes and had the same or similar experience in the subject areas. Regardless, I was fired. Now I am working in a school which I like.
    If you are professional, and have also a worldwide reputation, no one should you give a hard time.
    My teacher colleagues who embark in some of this school like that, should consider another school.
    TRUST is the main word among professional colleagues and professional admin is the pivotal point.
    I am also not participating in gossips about others in my school, and avoid social drinking when one may say something and would regret after. I also try not to complain about students, teachers and admin.
    I think there is an English saying, what goes around comes around.
    Being positive and kind will bear fruit, even if you have to go another school, which is usually better than the previous one.
    That is my experience.
    Take care,
    and best regards,

    Pierre

    Like

  9. Tahira Metwally says:

    Foreign schools do not have any idea how to treat Foreigner Teachers. They think that Foreigner Teachers are young and desperate and therefore get away with ill treating, and all the bad things that I have researched from Foreign Teachers. What’s the reason these Foreign Teachers go over-seas besides some for a working holiday, others for money and this is what gets you in trouble. You need to do research on the school, spend hours researching the school, ex pupils, ex HOD’s ex everything. Dont be judgemental unless you know situation and circumstances. Its scary sometimes and all you want to do is come home.

    Like

  10. Alex van ' t Hof says:

    Well, it’s clear that this darling of a director is asking the wrong question. He should ask the names of 3 bad administrators and 3 good ones if he is interested in improving the school rather than finding a shortlist of scapegoat teachers.
    The only good news here is that this director has shown his hand even before he got to the table so at least you all know what to expect and how you will react.
    The really troubling news is that this man, and many men and women like him, feels entirely confident that he can get away with bashing the weakest and most important group of people in school after the students, of course.
    In my experience in international teaching his confidence stems from the support that the recruitment agencies and regulators like CIS give to blind nihilism such as displayed by this director. Recruiters and regulators have just one mission statement: make as much money as you can, never mind the monsters you create and destruction you cause.
    So, teachers, what are you going to do about this? No one else will help, apparently.

    Like

    • Doug Cooke says:

      Bravo. It is up to the administration to identify which teachers are or are not meeting the expectations of the school. The question itself is bathed in ignorance and only attests to the shortsightedness of the director. The question could easily be phrased, which members of staff feel they could use more support and professional development to be able to help the students to the best of their abilities.

      Like

  11. John says:

    What a terrible way for this head of school to to begin developing relationships with staff! I’d be very nervous about working for anyone who thinks this is appropriate. Start looking for another job, pronto. This person is bad news.

    Like

  12. It may not be a witch hunt and I think, if the head is a wise man then will look at all the responses and decide which way to proceed. If the school is facing problems then somebody should take the lead and face the issues and try to correct the problem. For me its a more correction process than fault finding exercise.

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      The concern is that the head is clearly not a very wise man at all if he thinks this is an appropriate way to go about accessing his teaching staff. Extremely unprofessional to say the least! I would be looking for another job as he clearly has no idea what he is doing.

      Like

  13. Anonymous says:

    That is absolutely shocking and very unprofessional. Leave it blank.

    Like

  14. Robin says:

    I would not answer the question. It’s loaded and I agree with all the negative feedback about It above. Teachers not meeting whose expectations? What expectations specifically? The other teachers’ personal expectations? As a specialist, trust me, many teachers have NO idea what the expectations are for teaching my subject matter and as long as they get their “break” they are happy. That in and of itself causes “expectations” that have nothing whatsoever to do with performance of the teacher.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Susan says:

    The fact the this question is even asked would make me VERY skeptical of the new head’s professionalism. Words like good and bad are loaded. “What do you see as strengths about the school and what do you see that could be improved?” would illicit more useful information and the second question is an attempt to pit teachers against each other and find spies. I would not answer it, period.

    Like

  16. Angela says:

    I’d leave it blank. That says it all.

    Like

  17. Michael Fehon says:

    This is not about finding out the bad teachers. This is about the incompetent excuse for an administrator finding out who the slimey weasels are that He or she can rely upon. In any case, get your CV ready and prepare to jump ship. You are better than This horrible place.

    Like

  18. Mike Baldwin says:

    Sometimes it is difficult putting things into perspective when they are so personal. Think about it this way, would you submit a question like this to your students? Evidently, if your new head was a teacher, he would. I think it says a lot about his leadership style. I would be careful. The question is probably most damaging to him, as people will question his motives.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. John says:

    I’ve worked with a few teachers who are bad amd the ability to report them would have saved a lot of time and hassle.

    However his question says “… Not lived up to expectations” so someone who you thought would be excellent but is merely good could also be reported.

    Like

    • Brian says:

      No one is stoping you, John. Just email your head a list of teachers you feel aren’t living up to your expectations.

      If you are a head, with all due respect, I hope I never work for you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Doug Cooke says:

        And when someone reports you John because they do not agree with the way you dress or the fact that you do not smile at them everyday or that you have a better relationship with the students than you do, will you toe their line.

        Like

    • Sue Gray says:

      What does good and bad mean???? Isn’t this what an appraisal process is there to identify
      That is the approach any future head should be looking at. The relativism of such a question from the perspective of what is obviously an unprofessional head makes this a can of worms! Cheapskate methods!

      Like

  20. Anonymous says:

    Research the headteacher’s credentials and achievements.

    Experienced? One can be experienced but not good.

    Like

  21. doughpat says:

    I don’t like the question at all. It puts people into an awkward position and erodes morale. A decent head of school should be able to figure out who isn’t pulling their weight through less back-stabbing methods.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Shannon says:

    No. Just no. It’s not your job to evaluate others – that is what administrators are for. If a teacher is not performing, you can raise that with an administrator, along with specifics of what they are doing wrong, which hopefully you have documented if you are considering taking such a step. What if you do not know of three underperforming teachers? What if they do things in a different style to you and which you do not understand, but which leads to great outcomes for students? How do you avoid this opening wounds and allowing teachers to act on grudges? I’ve known plenty of teachers I would have preferred not to work with because I didn’t like them personally, but I didn’t have any documented evidence to prove they are poor teachers. Probably because often they are not, and the issue is personal, not professional.

    In this situation, I’d be talking to every other colleague I trust, and suggesting that everyone answers en masse with “I do not feel comfortable answering this question” or something of the like. But I see nothing wrong with giving a rap for some excellent teachers… perhaps the boss will get an idea about who isn’t performing by the names that do NOT crop up.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Anonymous says:

      The fact that the head may try and use information you give about excellent teachers (based on your opinion) to make judgements about those not mentioned is sure a very good reason to not give this information either!

      Like

  23. Anonymous says:

    I tend to agree that this may be a question to get a read on the people responding to the question. As it is said, what Peter says about Paul, says a lot more about Peter than Paul.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. cell5744 says:

    I would avoid responding to that question. I think responding would make me look bad. I’d focus on the positives, the teachers who are doing s great job. Turmoil like you explain can lead a good teacher to be bad. It creates a lot of stress. It also doesn’t ask for a justification. What makes a ‘bad’ teacher? Also the requirement for three is tough. A better phrasing would be ‘Are there any teachers who you feel should be reported for misconduct and why?’

    Liked by 2 people

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree. It is SO difficult to teach in an unstable school environment where there are constant staff changes. It is isolating and poisons the camaraderie. Teaching is best as a team sport. I would not respond to the question. Best wishes.

      Like

  25. Jim says:

    There are some bad, lazy and incompetent teachers out there. In fact, one who just started at my school began by bad mouthing the head on the first day of school. The negativity was told to immediately stop, This nasty spiteful old bat of a teacher did a runner as she couldn’t get the power she wanted – other teachers were delighted she left. The head is now blacklisting her! Don’t burn bridges and there is always a reason for such questions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • omgarsenal says:

      Yes there is Jim but what is the reason(s) for such a question and how can a new Head justify pitting one teacher against another, asking them to play vigilante be seen as anything but dangerous, dubious and duplicitous?

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Leo says:

    It is an interesting little test question to see who is a gossip and backstabber. Trust me, plenty of ’em around.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Who Me says:

    Any teacher focused on teaching does not have the time to spy on their colleagues. How would I know what another teacher does in their classroom? I would be very concerned about a director who is essentially probing to see who he can count on to be his spy.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Mike says:

    I would say that I am happy to report that all my coworkers exceed expectations!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Anonymous says:

    I don’t have a problem with this. Teaching, like life, is competitive. The staff and faculty probably gossip about others everyday at lunch, so why not put it down in writing? No one comment will make a difference, but an aggregate of negatives might get the dismissal action started.

    Like

    • omgarsenal says:

      First off, you don’t have the cojones to identify yourself. Secondly teaching is not a competitive sport but a collaborative and cooperative effort for the students. Gossip is just that, unproven, unmerited and indefensible cowardice from someone like you that can ruin a career. How do you know that one comment won’t make a difference and who made you the arbiter of another teacher’s future? I hope your dismissal for being a jerk, is in rapid progress!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Alex van ' t Hof says:

      To Anonymous: Looks like you would make it onto the baddie list. Still think this is appropriate?

      Like

    • WestmeetEast says:

      Wow! Where did you train?? How can teaching be competitive? What will you be competing for? 100% attendance? Best handwriting? A quite class? It doesn’t make sense!!
      Students are little people with different educational needs. We have different groups of students with different parental support and different family set up so how can one teacher compete against the other?? 😳

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      A dismissal avtion should be started only by going through the correct professional channels starting with formal observations and verbal and written warnings. It should definitely not be the result of other teachers writing down their opinions. They may not have even seen this person.teach! This is a decisive and very unprofessional approach which highlights that the new head clearly has absolutely no idea what he is doing.

      Like

    • Me says:

      The question is totally unprofessional. Any decent head would be able to work it out quickly for themselves. Asking teachers to name and shame others is ridiculous and shows he has no idea what he is doing.

      Like

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