What's So Great About TEM?

Darrell Hugueley

As a Memphis City Schools teacher, I am extremely pleased to see the Teacher Effectiveness Measure (TEM) come to my profession. Not only is it a great tool with which to evaluate instructional practice, it was created with input from teachers. With it, my administrator and I will have access to evidence of effective teaching from multiple sources of data over a period of time. Together we can analyze the precise areas of needed improvement, target those areas with meaningful professional development, and augment areas of effectiveness. The TEM is a great mechanism with which to look into teaching performance and give, I feel, for the first time in my teaching career, authentic evaluation.

I have worked for four different administrators since I started working for Memphis City Schools eleven years ago. While each of them has been in my classroom and observed my teaching, I never received any meaningful feedback after planned observations. Each of those administrators at the end of the school year handed me my Tennessee Value-Added Assessment Scores (TVAAS). On each occasion when this envelope was handed out, every administrator simply handed me the data and offered no additional feedback.

I have since taken it upon myself to analyze my performance in the classroom each year. One year at a local Tennessee Association of Middle Schools (TAMS) conference I learned how to form a matrix to assess my teaching using the TVAAS data. Taking a cue from a favorite professor from my teacher training, I also strive to change at least 25% of what I do in the classroom each year.

I am still puzzled by the lack of analysis of what I do in the classroom by my supervisors. I have had careers in sales and management before coming to education, and in those corporate environments evaluations come annually using multiple sources of data. There is rarely any doubt where you stand not only among your peers and co-workers, but how you rank in your profession.

All the data show that of all the things we have the most control over in education, the quickest way to increase student achievement is time spent with an effective teacher. I am proud to put my performance under the microscope, because I want to be the best teacher I can be, not only to make my administrator proud to have me in the building and to enhance my own pride at what I do for a living, but most importantly because the development and growth of children is at stake.

Darrell Hugueley is a 7th Grade Language Arts teacher at Cordova Middle School in Memphis City Schools.  He has been teaching for eleven years and is a Teach Plus Memphis Teaching Policy Fellow, a Stand for Children Team Captain at his school, and a TEI Ambassador.

This blog post was originially published by Communities for Teaching Excellence. It is reprinted here with permission.