January 1, 2022
Happy New Year! I thought I’d start this year out with reaching some goals!
Evaluations are a part of every educator’s school year and can be quite daunting because of so many uncontrollable variables. With many educators’ jobs being dependent on a good evaluation to be offered a position the next year or for promotions, they become even more important–and stressful. So the best plan is to focus on what we can control.
EVALUATION RUBRICS Rubrics are the guide for both supervisor and educator and give the parameters for what constitutes highly effective, effective, needs improvement or ineffective. However, they can vary from district or school, and even from year to year. They can also be very subjective. If your administration doesn’t already do so, schedule a meeting to go through each area to find out how they envision it and don’t be afraid to ask for demonstrations and modeling, not just a generic example. The more specific an example (or non-example) can be, the more likely you are to be clear on what you are expected to do.
PRE-AND POST-OBSERVATION CHATS For every observation, there will be some sort of conversation. For Informal observations, these may be in a faculty meeting or even an email. It should tell you which are they will focus on. For formal observations, this will be a one-on-one chat and will talk specifically of what you will be teaching and how it will look, what class they will come in for, and where they should sit, how long they stay, etc. Every supervisor is different, so be sure to ask questions and take notes to help you in your planning and preparation.
OBSERVATIONS While I don’t personally recommend performing for the evaluation and think it is best to teach as you normally would (trust me, they can tell the difference), you will want to plan ahead to ensure you cover all the criteria for the observation to ensure the best rating as possible. Especially for experienced teachers that may only have one informal and one formal a year for their scores. When choosing your lesson and class, there’s a few things to keep in mind. First, choose content that students have a high level of success and interaction with. Also, be sure to choose a class where the focus is on teaching, not classroom management. Yes, they want to see you handle unexpected situations, but too much and they won’t see you teach. I also find it helpful to let the class know you will have a guest in the room, but they are there to watch you, not them. Some students get stressed by administrators in the room and this can ease their mind.
ABOVE AND BEYOND In my district, one of our areas is for things we do beyond just the typical teaching. This can be things we do to help other teachers, creating additional resources for the department or special needs students, serving on committees and teams, and volunteering for duties. Be sure you aren’t doing everything, but know that these make a difference.
KEEP YOUR OWN RECORDS This is super important. Be sure you are keeping records of all you do. Anecdotal records with dates, what inspired the action, what you did, and the results or outcome are fine. Also, I highly recommend recording your informal and formal observations. There are so many things that are being looked for and many take notes while observing. However, while jotting something down or when distracted by a radio call or another student, they may miss something. Having a video recording can help provide evidence if you notice something on your observation you disagree with or are unclear on. This also allows you to see yourself teaching and find your own areas for improvement. Check out March 2021’s blog post on STAR Tracking for more on documenting your school year.
ALWAYS GET FEEDBACK FOR GROWTH Whether you were marked off for a deficiency or were praised for all things being amazing, feedback is your friend! If there is room for improvement for effective or lower ratings, this is your chance to find out what they are looking for. Take notes and ask questions. If you were highly effective, still ask for ways to grow and improve your craft, or ask for insights for your techniques and the upcoming class you’ll have next year. This valuable insight can save you mistakes in that break-in time with next year’s class.
If you disagree with your evaluation, don’t be afraid to speak up, and don’t sign in agreement. Once signed, you are locked into it. Most have a place to make notes as well. This is a time when your video recording can be a very useful tool, but don’t challenge just to challenge and be sure you can back it up if you challenge it. You don’t want to ruin your credibility and look unprofessional by challenging everything based on emotion and not fact-based evidence.