The Teacher of the Year Program adheres to the requirements of the National Program regarding schedules; composition of the portfolios; and areas in which nominees will be judged. We are glad that we can go beyond the National guidelines by giving more attention to district nominees at work in the classroom and by having persons from outside the Department make the final recommendation.
The first phase involves the selection of five staff members from the Department. They read the portfolios submitted by the nominees for State Teacher of the Year. The readers review the materials and rate each portfolio based on specific criteria. A numeric rating is applied to each portfolio by the readers and an average of the five readings is calculated for each nominee.
In the second phase, ten staff members from the Department are selected to be observers. They are teamed with former State and local district teachers of the year. The teams are assigned to observe each district nominee at work in the classroom as well as interview the building principal and other teachers. Appointments are made at the convenience of the nominee, but they must take place within ten school days from the time the portfolios are submitted to the Department. The observers, who work in pairs, want to see the teacher’s typical work with students. The nominee’s relationships with other teachers and administrators are also factors to consider; but the major factor is the classroom performance of the teacher. There are guidelines for the observers to follow and a numeric rating is assigned to each nominee’s observation report.
The observation rating for each nominee is added to the portfolio rating. These two ratings are averaged together for a final score. The three nominees with the highest score become the finalists. The portfolios and reports of the three nominees are submitted to a panel of judges for their review and recommendation.
The Department invites as judges: the current State Teacher of the Year; the president of the Delaware State PTA; the president of the Future Educators Association; a member of the State Board of Education; representative of the Chamber of Commerce; the president of the Delaware State Education Association; and the chair of the Professional Standards Board or if necessary, their designees. After reviewing the materials, one nominee will be recommended as the State Teacher of the Year. The judges recommendation is submitted to the Secretary of Education for final approval.