By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Lester Prairie School Superintendent Jeremy Schmidt and Principal Nat Boyer explained the district’s teacher evaluation plan during the July 18 school board meeting.
They began by explaining the state requirements, which mandate that probationary teachers receive a formal evaluation three times per year, and tenured teachers receive a formal evaluation at least once every three years.
Teachers in Lester Prairie are evaluated significantly more often.
“It’s a management tool on our part, but it also allows us to coach them and lead them,” Boyer commented.
He noted that many of the classroom observations are unannounced.
Boyer and Schmidt then follow up with the teachers to discuss what they observed. Sometimes they are able to point out things a teacher didn’t realize was happening.
“We could do the bare minimum [under state law],” Boyer said. “We are going above and beyond, but, as an administrator and teacher leader, I think that going above and beyond is making our teachers better and it’s helping our students more . . . a number of different districts aren’t giving their teachers this much support and their teachers this much support, and I think it’s a great plan.”
“This is probably one of the best ways to develop our staff,” Board Chair Karla Heigl said. “Expectations are very clear.”
“We cannot short our kids if we want them to have a great education,” Boyer commented.
When they are following up with teachers, Boyer and Schmidt address questions such as:
• Which objectives are being met?
• How could the teacher improve on this?
• How could the teacher get students more involved?
• How could the teacher change a lesson the next time?
Boyer said he tells teachers the evaluation plan is not intended to tell teachers what they are doing wrong, but to help them improve.
“We’re here to say ‘We support you,’” Boyer said. “‘We want you to become better. We want to give you a different viewpoint.’”
Boyer noted that even veteran teachers sometimes say they need some fresh ideas after teaching the same subject for many years, and the teacher evaluation plan helps provide a framework under which that can happen.
“I don’t think we can use our staff development dollars any better,” Heigl commented.
The board approved the 2016-17 teacher evaluation plan.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• approved the resignation of Steven Beckman, social studies teacher.
• approved contracts with Kari Amundson, social studies; Blaine Walstrom, head volleyball coach; Kelly Elling, C-squad volleyball coach; Derek Zebell, asst. football coach; Adam Birkholz, asst. football coach; Tyler Helland, additional football coach; Wes Kapping, junior high football coach; Julie Olson, fall play advisor; Terri Schuft-Helland, band performance; Cheryl Bayerl, high school student council advisor; Kim DeBruyckere, school yearbook advisor; Joe Scoblic, head football coach; and David Rue, choir performance.
• approved a contract with Betty Williams, kitchen supervisor.