March 12, 2021
Evaluations are a dreaded part of being a teacher. We teach all day for 180 days a year but have only a handful of observations to catch us in action. Some teachers just teach like a regular day, some prepare and ensure they hit every mark, some fall somewhere in the middle and make the effort to hit those marks, but don’t do too much out of the ordinary. It’s the best we can do for Domains 1-3. But what about Domain 4?
Domain 4 is about our teaching practices and what we do that goes beyond basic planning, teaching, grading, and communicating. It’s the one where we can get recognized for the things, we see that need done beyond the minimum and we do them. I know very veteran teachers that don’t do this. But are you doing everything you can to get recognized for them? Have you ever been close to the next level but couldn’t think of or prove something to get that bump? I have and it sucks. I was .001 away from a Highly Effective rating one year, a year I didn’t track so my “what I did” email was brief. And their email is usually very casual, so we don’t even think of it being something of such value to us. But it is!
When I was working on my master’s degree, we were required to do projects and track them and their outcome. It was daunting work, but in doing them, I realized I kept better records and had that data at the end of the year to share with my supervisor and increased the outcome of my evaluation because I had evidence of being a highly effective teacher. At that point I decided it was worth continuing every year.
I knew it couldn’t be too complex or I’d never do it. But I needed something beyond my post it notes collection of tracking. I created a simple tracking sheet and included updating it into my weekly routine. I stuck with the STAR acronym since it made sense. It stands for Situation/Task—what I noticed or identified; Actions—what I took to improve the situation; Results—the outcome of my actions. It is clear and concise and captures all aspects of the process, plus it’s easy to share with my evaluating supervisor. Here’s an example of an entry I did about starting this process and sharing with others:
So, with end of year evaluations coming up, take the time now to gather your notes and think about what you have done and fill one in for this year. Here’s the link to a blank STAR tracking form I created to share. Be sure to create a new copy and save the blank one to reuse each year and don’t forget to calendar appointment yourself to update it as well as shortcut it for easy to find access!
I know some of you may be reluctant to put in the effort because some evaluating supervisors don’t like to give out Highly Effective ratings. Many don’t because they don’t want to have to answer for a high number of them. I don’t get that argument. I would want to show off my amazing teachers, be an example for the education system, and show our stakeholders that we are doing amazing things. And with the documentation provided in this method, it can back up administrators in giving those evaluations out and perhaps change the Education System mindset from expecting a bell curve to recognizing greatness and rewarding it. In the business world, when a location has high performing employees, they become a model for what should be done—let’s do that with education.
So, keep being amazing. Keep making things better for teachers, students, parents, schools, communities. Then be sure you are writing it down to share and get credit for all you do. You are worth it!
Note: If this is something you are interested in sharing with your team or school, contact me to schedule a Zoom meeting or I can record my training and share with you.