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David Newton-Dines

Managing Director, DJ Squared Limited

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Rate educators based on their empathy alone.

The only real measure of effectiveness regarding an educator is that they treat each child (from pre-school to university) individually.

If they do that, then that child will receive the very best education possible. Currently, too many educators take a formulaic approach and effectively blame the child if they don't understand.

By scoring educators based on their empathy, it removes the nonsense of cheating at annual tests simply to stay employed. Yes many would go, however, that might then mean that the lost vocational element of education might reemerge.

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    May 5 2013: Rather than rating educators, how about educating educators? Every single human on this planet can learn the skills necessary to relate to students. Adults who do not know how to do this can learn. They can take courses. They can have mentors. If they are treated with respect and empathy by their administrators, that is the first step to learning how to do that, and the value of doing that, with their students. Rating them and firing them is the exact opposite of what we want them to be doing with our students. We do not want them to rate and then "fire" our students. Why should teachers be treated more harshly?

    If we spent time and money surrounding these angry teachers with care and support and encouraging them to learn to work out problems, they can learn. They also, just like our most reluctant students, can transform themselves into achievers. I have seen it happen over and over at our Glasser Quality School. Educators who believe themselves superior to students, soon see the benefits of working out conflicts with them rather than attacking them.

    Because there is a system in place to help students and teachers mediate conflicts on a daily basis, our classrooms are places students and teachers look forward to coming. When that is not happening, teachers seek out help and that is not condemned, but encouraged. We see teaching as a team sport, where teammates ask for help when needed and help is supplied with gratitude for the asking.

    If teachers don't feel safe in their jobs, they won't try something new. They won't take risks. They won't admit to weaknesses, nor ask for help. Creating a safe environment for teachers to learn and setting mutually agreed upon goals and working toward them as a team will help the angry teachers relax and begin to enjoy working with their students. Probably, they have no idea how to create a strong relationship with a student, nor are they aware of the positive differences that would make in their own lives
    • May 5 2013: Hi Charlotte

      I am currently working on a system for HE where students rate lecturers and support staff based on their empathy alone.

      This system originated as a consequence of making graduates more employable. I realised that that work was quickly undermined in the absence of a supportive environment and the Uni in question were baulking at training all lecturers. So, I worked out that in order to encourage empathetic behaviour from the tutors and staff all we would need to do is start scoring each lecture based on its empathy rating... No initiatives, no edicts, no empathy = poor score = poor review.
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        May 5 2013: Have you found that poor reviews = more empathic behaviors from instructors? It seems to me that poor reviews would result in less empathic behaviors because teachers would feel judged and in an unsafe environment. They would feel more cynical, sarcastic, and unappreciated.

        I believe students would not feel comfortable judging staff in a rating system if there was not already a problem of grading in the college. Because there is a risk of low grades/failure in working with staff (which is the current system of assessment), students are willing to grade staff, almost as a type of revenge. If there were no grades and instead a system of teams working together and working out conflicts, I believe no one would want to participate in a rating scale because it would be seen as hurtful of the team.

        For instance, in our school, we meet twice weekly to keep everything running well. I someone needs support to get something done, they ask for it. They are not seen as weak or insufficient because they are overwhelmed in some way. We all know that the time will come when we need the support, too, so we offer it willingly. We don't need some rating system to tell us that we aren't doing well. We self-assess and then get the support we need.

        If we get information from the outside that we aren't doing well enough, we work together to solve the problem -- for instance, I had a parent complaint to my principal that I wasn't answering emails quickly enough. The principal and I looked over my schedule and realized that it was impossible for me to do it more quickly without taking me away from students, which was not an optimal use of my skills, so she assigned some of my email responsibilites (for admissions) to someone else who was not with students as often. Problem solved.
        I realize that what I am suggesting is a long-term fix with many system changes needed to enact it. What results have you had with the rating system leading to more empathic teaching methods?

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