The Facade of the Teacher of the Year Award


It’s quite the oxymoron to ask teachers to vote for the best teacher in the school, one whom they have never seen teach because they are busy teaching themselves. Go figure.

I can’t understand how and why this has become a best practice in schools to have teachers vote for who they think deserves the coveted Teacher of the Year award. How can someone even know how well someone teaches if at the same time they are busy in their own classroom teaching?

So, what happens it is becomes a popularity contest or the votes that are casted are based on word of mouth- which means whomever managed to talk about themselves often enough for others to hear about it and think “hmm, that teacher is always doing great stuff” wins. Well, what about all the teachers who do not talk about what they are doing? Does that mean they aren’t effective or “the best?”

We want the TOY award to…

  • be more than a popularity contest or a reward for boasting longevity
  • ensure it reflects individuals who think outside the box and advocate for their students’ academics

In order for those things to happen, we need to make sure we have a process in place that allows teachers to see each other teach often prior to voting for a “best educator” award.

Here’s the secret to success: Learning Walks – a peer observation system. (Click the link for details on how it works).

If your school or district is in need of training to roll out learning walks, shoot me an email at I’ll be happy to help!


What other method(s) can help teachers fairly evaluate their peers in order to vote for the TOY award?

About the author, Gretchen

I am a teacher trainer and coach. Working elbow to elbow with teachers and teacher leaders to ensure instructional proficiency and student achievement soar lights me up. We have a real need in our nation for strong educators to remain in the field. My blog, book, podcast, courses and instructional materials are geared towards empowering teachers (and those that lead them) to receive the support needed to grow and thrive today, tomorrow and always.