20080314_sherlock_holmes Sometimes old ideas can make a comeback in education when the conditions are ripe for change. Here is case in point:

Way back in 1972 I served in the Peace Corps in Malaysia as a teacher trainer for the Inspectorate in the Ministry of Education.  My job was to visit classrooms in a three remote districts near the Thai border —  evaluating the teachers’ performance in implementing a new national curriculum, reporting findings back to the Ministry and conducting  in- service training workshops on the weekends. It was heady stuff for a one year veteran of the classroom only a couple of years out of college. And it was a great way for me to learn about education reform Malaysian-style. Frankly, I don’t think I made a huge difference in improving the quality of instruction of teachers twice my age. And at the time the inspectorate concept seemed a bit outmoded, top down, and well…colonial.  A veritable relic of a bygone era of British colonialism.

But what did fascinate  me then and to this day is the seemingly simple model of classroom observation as a tool of teacher evaluation and continuous improvement.  You see this model in most every teacher evaluation program now being put into place around the country. And it was touted in a big way by the Broader Bolder Approach Coaltion a few years back in its accountability recommendations.  And, yes,Education  Next recently did a pretty interesting analysis of School Inspection program in UK http://educationnext.org/the-school-inspector-calls/.  The model has legs and resiliency and some reasonable reliability. This old idea is ripe again and good for new times!