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Seven Steps towards a Meaningful Teacher Evaluation

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The teacher evaluation process is a significant part of many school administrator's job. Having a firm grasp on this process is essential. The following seven steps will lead you to being a successful teacher evaluator. Each step focuses on a different aspect of the teacher evaluation process.

Know Your State’s Teacher Evaluation Guidelines

Every state has different guidelines and procedures for administrators to follow when evaluating. Most states require administrators to attend teacher evaluation professional development before they can begin evaluating teachers. It is necessary to study your specific states laws and procedures on evaluating teachers. It is also crucial that you know the dates that all teachers are supposed to be evaluated by and that those are done before the deadlines.

Know Your District’s Policies on Teacher Evaluations

In addition to state policies, it is essential to understand you districts policies and procedures when it comes to teacher evaluation. Some districts may require you to use a specific instrument while others allow you to create your own. Districts may have specific things that they want evaluated that the state may not require.

Be Sure Your Teachers Understand All Expectations and Procedures

You never want a teacher to be able to say that they were not aware of the teacher evaluation procedures in your district. It is beneficial to give your teachers this information and to document that you have done so. Should you ever need to dismiss a teacher, you want to cover yourself in making sure that all the district’s expectation were made known to them. There should not be any hidden elements to the teachers. They should be given access to what you are looking for, the instrument used, and any other pertinent information dealing with the evaluation process.

Schedule Pre and Post Conferences

A pre-evaluation conference allows you to sit down with the teacher you are observing before the observation to lay out your expectations and procedures. It is recommended that before the pre-observation conference you give the teacher an evaluation questionnaire which will give you more information about their classroom and what you can expect to see when you evaluate them. A post evaluation conference allows you to go over the evaluation with the teacher, giving them any feedback and suggestions, and answering any questions they might have.

Have a Current Meaningful Teacher Evaluation Tool

In some cases, this is not necessarily possible. Some districts and states have evaluation tools that they require you to use while others allow flexibility for the administrator using it. If you have the opportunity to design your own instrument, then make sure you always have it board approved before using it. Just like any good tool, reevaluate it from time to time. Don't be afraid to update it. Make sure it always meets state and district expectations, but add your own twist to it. If you are in a district where they have a specific instrument you have to use and you feel like there is a change that could improve it, then approach your superintendent and see if it may be possible to make those changes.

Don’t Be Afraid of Constructive Criticism

There are many administrators that go into an evaluation with no intent of marking anything other than good or excellent. There is not a teacher who exists that cannot improve in some area. Offering some constructive criticism or challenging the teacher will only improve that teacher’s ability and students in that classroom are the ones who will benefit. Try to pick out one area during each evaluation that you believe is most important for the teacher to improve. You may not necessarily down grade the teacher if they are doing a fantastic job, but let them know this is an area you see room for improvement in and most teachers will work harder to improve there. If during evaluation you see a teacher who has substantial deficiencies, then it may be necessary to put them on a plan of improvement to help them vastly improve those deficiencies.

Change Your Focus

For veteran administrators evaluating veteran teachers make sure you mix it up a little bit. When evaluating on them try not focus on the same thing from evaluation to evaluation. Evaluate different subjects, different times of day, or focus on a particular part of teaching such as how they move around the classroom or what students they call on the answer questions. Changing your focus can keep the teacher evaluation process fresh and relevant.

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