Eric Bethel on IMPACT
Eric Bethel was a fifth grade teacher in the DC Public Schools when the new IMPACT teacher evaluation system was introduced last year, a system that rewards the highest performing teachers with bonuses and faster track promotions and removes low performing teachers from the system. Eric is too modest to say it up front in his guest blog, but he was rated highly effective because of the academic gains of his students and the ratings of the master teachers and principal that evaluated him in the classroom.
It was extremely enriching to finally receive feedback that could help move my teaching forward. In the seven years prior, I never received feedback from an evaluation that allowed me to grow specific areas of instruction. In fact, most feedback was very general or nonexistent, as my principals were not content specialist or had grown to consider me a "strong" teacher, therefore scoring me highly with very little suggestions for growth. On the contrary, last school year, under IMPACT, observations revealed specific areas of my instruction that could be developed. As a result, I developed my instruction and served my students better.
IMPACT, specifically the Teaching and Learning Framework, has provided our district with a common language that defines effective teaching and learning. This common language is captured in nine different areas. Through the common language of the rubric, evaluators were able to pin point very specific components of my instruction that needed development.
In addition to growing instructionally, which would have been enough, IMPACT provided me the types of professional growth opportunities that make teaching in a tough district sustainable. Now that there was a way for our system to identify teachers, being identified as highly effective came with a host of invitations to be a part of leadership teams, focus groups, and other special opportunities. I was accepted to a fellowship that provided me the chance to work with our district’s top-level leaders for six weeks over the summer. I learned a tremendous amount about all of the important aspects of education that take place outside of classrooms and schools. I was able to provide input to help our leaders better support us in the trenches. It was an amazing experience that contributed greatly to my professional growth.
Lastly, but certainly not least, especially if you ask my wife who has been dreaming of us owning our first home for years now, is the compensation connected with being a highly effective teacher. In the next few weeks, I am set to receive a highly effective bonus that is about half of my entire teacher’s salary from last year. This bonus will greatly contribute to our dream. It is incredible that my district has moved beyond the lip service that teachers have become accustomed to hearing and has actually decided to show that they get how meaningful yet challenging teaching is. They are showing that they get it by appropriately compensating teachers who can do a great job at this extremely meaningful and incredibly challenging work.
Being a highly effective teacher in DC has been life changing!
About Eric Bethel
Eric Bethel was a fifth grade teacher in the DC Public Schools when the new IMPACT teacher evaluation system was introduced last year, a system that rewards the highest performing teachers with bonuses and faster track promotions and removes low performing teachers from the system.