January 15, 2013

Teachers Talk Back: Kelly Vallianos

Kelly Vallianos, a 3rd grade teacher at Dominguez Elementary, has been teaching for 19 years. She is National Board Certified and also serves as the Safety and GATE Coordinator at her school. Ms. Vallianos shares her thoughts about piloting teacher evaluations.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

It happened by a fluke on a suggestion from my mother. She knew my strengths and interests. I had so much fun and was so happy to see the children’s faces eager to discover and learn. I taught first grade my first year, and I was hooked - every day, I am excited to teach and develop a nurturing environment for the children.

What has your experience with the pilot evaluation system been so far?

So far, I have really enjoyed and learned a lot from the process.  I have a great relationship with my administrator, which was a plus for me, but it also helps that there is a protocol to follow. The pilot evaluation is less threating because you are asked to reflect on what went well, and what needs improvement, similar to the National Board process. This process helps show growth in teaching over time. I like that I am able to set my own goals, plan accordingly and follow up on it. I wanted to improve in differentiated instruction and was actually able to attend trainings last year.

How is the pilot evaluation being rolled out at your school?

We had 4 teachers from our school that were part of the pilot evaluation. The whole process is demanding on teachers and administrators because it involves a lot of scripting and post discussions after observations. But this protocol, although time consuming, allows for more discussion and reflection about my teaching and my students’ learning.

The only part that was difficult was the amount of work that was required at the beginning. However, they listened to our feedback , applied our suggestions and also shortened the amount of sections we had to complete.

Was it helpful to have different perspectives?

We had some trainers from other districts - I was interested in learning how they were able to get buy-in for a new evaluation from their teachers.

It has also been refreshing to have someone that did not know me, be my observer and it was interesting to learn from different educators. I think peer observation and collaborative learning are incredibly important.  Incorporating video lessons is a great way to get more feedback even when in-person observations don’t work logistically; no one really knows how teaching and learning takes place without seeing it for themselves.

It’s also important to get the community involved through parent academies, and making sure the school is open and welcoming to get continuous feedback.

Why did you become an E4E member?

I gravitated toward E4E because of its’ reputation in working toward improving the teaching profession by having teacher’s use their diverse experiences to help drive and create responsible policy that produces positive results for students,  as well as the profession.