D.C. Gigs: Master Educator


Here in D.C., students aren't the only ones who have to make the grade, teachers have to prove themselves as well. IMPACT is a relatively new program in which accomplished teachers evaluate their peers in the city's public schools. These evaluations can play a role in whether a teacher gets to keep his or her job. In this month's edition of D.C. Gigs, we hear from one of these evaluators, also known as Master Educators. Producer Marc Adams caught up with Eric Bethel at McKinley Tech High School in Northeast D.C. as he was preparing for the upcoming school year.


My name is Eric Bethel. I am a master educator for the District of Columbia public schools. I have been in this position for two years. As a master educator, I have a job that holds two primary duties. The first is to evaluate the District of Columbia public schools teachers, the second is to support.


Fast, can't keep up with you, Eric.


Coming from being a teacher to a master educator, I was worried about my colleagues' new perception of me. I was just being a teacher and being evaluated and now you've crossed over and now you're evaluating us. And to my surprise, I had a very warm welcome and response from my colleagues across the District. What I think of when I walk into a school and walk down a hallway on my way to observe or evaluate a teacher is, gosh, I miss being in the school and walking the halls and teaching students.


So if this were an evaluation here at McKinley Tech, I would walk into the front door, walk into the classroom and I would look at the teacher and acknowledge the teacher. I would flash her a smile or if the teacher was not in the middle of instruction, I would approach the teacher, introduce myself quickly, let the teacher know I was there. Eric Bethel from the Master Educator Program and I'm here to evaluate. I'd ask the teacher if this was a good time. I would quietly walk through the class, find a space that -- or empty desk or somewhere where I would not be in the way of the instruction.


I would sit down, take out my laptop and I would immediately begin to take notes of the observation. The obvious challenges with doing this work is knowing that the results or the compilation of the results of the evaluations that we perform, along with several of the factors that go into a teachers final evaluation, is how it states. Either the teacher's going to be celebrating, receive a bonus or on the opposite end, teachers may be separated from their work. And so balancing the emotions that come along with high stake evaluation can be a challenge.


We know that teachers love their students and that these teachers want the best for their students and are working very hard to put forth that effort. But it's the effectiveness of that effort that I'm being asked to evaluate. And knowing that those students have maybe one shot, you know, they have one ticket and that lies in their education and what we provide them allows me to look past, you know, some of that -- some of those challenges that come with this being high stakes for teachers.


That was Master Educator Eric Bethel talking with producer Marc Adams. To see photos of Bethel in the classroom and for more information on the IMPACT program, head to our website, And if you have a distinctively D.C. Gig you think we should highlight, let us know. Send us an email at or visit us on Facebook, just head to
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