15 Tips To Take The Stress Out Of Teacher Evaluations
Across the United States, teacher education programs do the hard work of training tomorrow’s educators for the classroom. But with only so many hours in the day, it’s hard for professors to cover all the intricacies of the teaching profession. This survival tip will cover the often overlooked but very important subject of teacher evaluations. For many new teachers, the fear of being evaluated is a clear and present danger; not because they lack confidence, but because of the fear of the unknown.
Each school system has a process for measuring and evaluating its teachers. In most districts, all teachers are evaluated by an administrator and are given feedback at least once annually. New teachers, however, typically undergo more than one evaluation. Below is an overview of what to expect before, during, and after an evaluation, as well as how to prepare for each.
Before an Evaluation
Before an evaluation, most administrators will schedule a time with you, and some will even let you choose the class that you know will be the most likely to shine the best light on your skills as a teacher. Here’s a quick checklist of ways to prepare for the evaluation.
• Ask for the rubric they will use. The rubric allows the administrator to score each teacher equally and accurately by looking for specific skills and dispositions during the lesson. Knowing what the administrator will be looking for will allow you to cover all the bases.
• Consider the audience before choosing a topic. Know the educational interests of the administrator. Was he or she a math teacher? A special needs teacher? Is he or she a proponent of technology? Think about what you know about the administrator personally and professionally, and consider his or her interests when selecting a subject, a topic, and a time of day.
• Choose an easy topic. You don’t want to choose a topic that you know is difficult for some students to grasp. For example, introduction to long division may not be the best topic, because you know that it is a multistep process that’s difficult for some students.
• Prepare a detailed lesson plan. The lesson plan for an evaluation is not your typical everyday lesson plan. It’s the extended version that includes details, commentary, and all of the bells and whistles that go along with it. Be sure to include the objectives, materials needed, an introduction, developmental activities, a closing, accommodations, an assessment, and so on.
• Prepare your class. Talk to your students about what to expect. Let them know who is coming, and explain why. Let them know that they’ll be rewarded for their good behavior. It might not be a bad idea to do a practice run and pretend that you’re being evaluated before the scheduled evaluation. This may all seem like window dressing, but it will help to put your mind at ease.
• Prepare your classroom. De-clutter, decorate, and clean everything. Be sure to have your desk cleared in case the administrator wants to sit there to evaluate.
• Be flexible. Administrators are always busy. They have unexpected meetings, misbehaving students who must be attended to at inopportune times, and limitless paperwork. If he or she must reschedule, just put aside your prepared lesson until another day.
During an Evaluation
If you are thoroughly prepared for your evaluation as described here, the evaluation itself should be a breeze.
• Remember that the administrator has probably already figured out that you are an effective teacher. The administrator wants you to do well and wants the students to do well. She or he is not out to get you or hurt your career.
• Relax! Again, the administrator is not looking for an excuse to fire you. Just relax, and do the best you can.
• Write your objectives on the board.
• Have fun! By having fun, you will engage the administrator and the students alike.
• Discipline as you always would. If a student misbehaves, be careful not to overreact. You won’t get a lower score because your students are children and occasionally misbehave.
After an Evaluation
Be prepared for feedback and constructive criticism. The administrator doesn’t intend to tear you down and is not out to get you.
• Thank the administrator for his or her feedback and honesty.
• Never argue! It will only lessen his or her opinion of you.
• Sincerely apply the suggestions to your teaching style.
Remember, evaluations are meant to gauge your teaching effectiveness. They’re not a pretense to get rid of you. Even if you score poorly during your first year, your administrator will use your evaluations to help you create an improvement plan.