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Pasco teachers to get lowdown on evaluation methods

WESLEY CHAPEL — Pasco County teachers will get a chance to learn more about how the district plans to evaluate them and help them hone their teaching skills at two town hall meetings scheduled for early November.

The meetings are scheduled on each side of the county to give more teachers a better opportunity to attend, Assistant Superintendent Amelia Van Name Larson said.

The first meeting will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Center for the Arts at Wesley Chapel High School. The second will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge High School.

A representative from the Marzano Institute, which developed the state-approved teacher-evaluation model that Pasco is using, will participate.

Larson said the district’s aim is to help teachers improve, whether they are fresh out of college and just starting out or master teachers with years of experience.

“Our commitment is to grow them wherever they are,” she said.

Teacher evaluations are state-mandated, but the district’s goal is to comply with the law while still approaching the effort from the standpoint of professional growth, she said.

“Principals went through five days of training on resetting their mindsets and gaining skills on how to observe, question and provide feedback,” Larson said.

The district expects principals and assistant principals to spend more time in classrooms observing teachers so they can provide more timely feedback. With other demands on principals, that could prove challenging, but Larson said Superintendent Kurt Browning considers it a must that principals be in classrooms every day.

That doesn’t always mean lengthy visits. Especially in the early part of the year, the district is focusing on shorter, more informal observations with most of the emphasis on growth and development, Larson said. In March, the principals would start more formal classroom observations that are longer.

All teachers are invited to the town hall meetings, but they are not required to attend. Still, the district plans a concerted effort to encourage attendance by promoting the events through Twitter, Facebook and newsletters.

“We really want the teachers to come,” Larson said.

The district also invited representatives of United School Employees of Pasco, including President Lynne Webb, to attend.

The district plans to videotape the sessions so those who can’t or choose not to attend can view them later, Larson said.

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