Evaluations: For many educators, the word elicits feelings of tension, foreboding and even dread. Even those who have had positive experiences with evaluations can feel a sense of anxiety when going through the process. The sad thing about all these negative connotations is that evaluations are meant to help people improve, reach their goals, and spark authentic and productive conversations. So where have we gone wrong?
To begin with, I believe we (educators) have misused the evaluation process. Instead of creating a system that focuses on the positives and assumes best intentions, we have often used evaluations as a tool to target poor behaviors and document the need for teacher removal when necessary. It’s a completely upside down system that doesn’t help struggling teachers and makes great teachers feel mediocre. I don’t believe the problem lies with the various tools used for evaluations, but rather how they are implemented. Having identified the problem, here are some of my thoughts for solutions.
Assume Best Intentions: I believe with all my heart that teachers want to be great. They went into this profession to make a positive difference. They may be struggling due to a lack of skill in a particular area or they may be feeling burned out or not valued. These are not bad educators, they are good educators waiting for help or motivation. What if evaluations helped address areas of need AND offered plans for support and guidance?
Get Into The Classrooms: I really don’t care for the traditional “dog and pony show” evaluation model, where a teacher submits a plan, showcases a lesson, and is done for the year. Research shows that the average teachers facilitates 900 lessons a year and we are basing observations on 3 or 4 visits? While I do feel that there needs to be documented visits into the classrooms, I believe that the key is being in rooms often. Even walkthroughs are beneficial to get a feel for the room atmosphere and see how routines are handles as well as catching glimpses of innovation and if students are engaged and empowered.
Ask Don’t Tell: We are moving away from the classroom model where the teacher talks and the students listen. Instead, teachers are becoming facilitators of discussion by asking quality open-ended questions designed to help students develop higher order thinking skills. We need to do the same with evaluations. Instead of telling teachers what they should be doing, we need to ask better questions! What are you really good at? What skills do you want to develop? What would you differently if you repeated that lesson? How can I support you in your role? In the evaluation discussion, the teacher should be doing most of the talking.
As educators, we know that evaluations are a part of what we do. However, how we use them is up to us. I support using evaluations to build up rather than tear down, to celebrate rather than penalize, and to help improve rather than a means to remove. We all have room to grow and we need effective feedback, quality questions, and ongoing support to reach our best potential. Let’s stop using evaluations as a heavy stick and start using them as they were intended…a means to grow!
“In evaluating ourselves, we tend to be long on our weaknesses and short on our strengths.” – Craig D. Lounsbrough
“Evaluate and assess your life on a daily basis.” – Sunday Adelaja
“For teachers, as for students, the most effective evaluation comes from someone who sits beside us and helps us grow.” – Carol Ann Tomlinson
- Monday, February 5: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, PTA Board 2:30 PM
- Tuesday, February 6: Achievement Team for R.M. (Pisko & Banter) 8:15 AM
- Wednesday, February 7: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
- Thursday, February 8: Collaborative Learning Time 7:50-8:50 AM
- Monday, February 12: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
- Tuesday, February 13: IEP (Kaufman) 8:15 AM
- Wednesday, February 14: HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!
- Thursday, February 15: Staff Meeting (Led by Jen Cory) 8:05 AM, Jon to ABC Negotiations 1:00 PM
- Friday, February 16: Lock Down 10:00 AM, 100th Day Celebration, iReady Testing Window Closes
- Monday, February 19: No School for President’s Day!