If you follow what is happening in the States, as per this New York Times article, "Hurdles Emerge in Rising Effort to Rate Teachers," where it is becoming common practice nationally to rank teachers for their effectiveness, then you realize that rating teachers is no easy feat. I don't pretend to be an expert in these matters, but I can relate with the feelings of teachers who may feel unfairly or improperly assessed in these rankings.
I just finished my my first week of a much needed winter break after a full semester of teaching, and on Shabbos morning I woke up from the mother of all school-related stress nightmare dreams. In the dream I was on the Shabbaton that I am in the midst of planning for one of my schools, and in the dream, everything was falling apart, with disastrous consequences. What a horrible, horrible feeling... and it was just a dream! It made me feel that in this profession, you are only as good as your last lesson plan/class/test/school-wide program, and so on.
I guess part of the process of becoming a reflective practitioner is that you have to grapple with these feelings of fear of failure, inadequacy, or the need for external approval for the job that you are doing. As with the national ranking system I mentioned above, in which teacher perfection is statistically impossible, in Jewish Education, perfection is also elusive, both in the practice of teaching, and in the product that you are trying to produce. In other words, on the one hand, I can be a master Judaics teacher with excellent unit planning, proper assessments, thoughtfully selected content, and so on, yet my students can still choose to drop yiddishkeit like a hot potato right after their bar or bat mitzvah. On the other hand, I can be a young teacher with everything to learn, and still somehow impact and inspire my students to make sound Jewish choices as they grow to maturity. What a maddening paradox!
The Times article wraps-up by quoting Professor Corcoran, of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, and an assistant professor of educational economics at New York University: “If you have a teacher consistently in the top 10 percent,” he said, “the chances are she is doing something right, and a teacher in the bottom 10 percent needs some attention. Everything in between, you really know nothing.”
That's not good enough. Guess I'll be having these stress dreams for a while... all for the sake of improving my craft I suppose.