published Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Hamilton principals focus on teacher evaluation

Sometimes even teachers get nervous when they’re called to the principal’s office.

A new teacher evaluation program in Hamilton County directs principals to focus on giving instructors regular feedback.

Principals and administrators benefited from some additional training Wednesday on how to give effective criticism.

“These ways that we’ve learned, it helps you focus directly on what the behavior is — not the person — and how it affects future achievement,” said Rodney Knox, one of 74 principals at a management workshop run by Unum. “It gave me a lot of ways to give feedback, effective feedback.”

Unum managers use the “DISC Model” when giving feedback:

  • Describe specific behaviors

  • Identify their effects

  • Specify desired changes

  • Clarify benefits and consequences

Unum, a Chattanooga-based insurer, brought top administrators from nearly every school in Hamilton County to its headquarters Wednesday and taught them the same management techniques that have made the multibillion-dollar company successful.

“We have the skills and the experience here, so it’s a great way to partner,” said Cathy Barrett, Unum community relations manager. “In our community outreach efforts, the major focus for us is education, so they’re our key partner.”

The multi-year, $600,000 partnership between the insurer and Hamilton County Schools is one of Unum’s largest, and the added instructional support helps as the county continues to improve its new feedback system, said Connie Atkins, assistant superintendent for the schools.

“Today I think we put a tool in our pockets that we can all use,” she said. “We can use this as a springboard for a lot of other things we want to do in the district.”

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