The new teacher evaluations can be stressful and are different than what many of us are used to. They are more frequent and focus on pretty specific descriptive feedback which is different then the pass/fail model from the past. As one who has observed many teachers, many times using the new model: here is the secret to a successful observation and overall evaluation…
1) make sure you know the specific standard that you are focusing on. Discuss with your evaluator what level one looks like, level three, level five, and even level seven. You need to understand the nuances and what makes them different.
2) reflect on your usual practice and see if you can estimate in advance where you will land on the various levels of the specific teaching standard. This not only helps you find your starting point, but it helps you to look forward to see what changes you need to make to increase your score/skill level.
3) be intentional in your mindset. Be a learner. Be open to suggestions and willing to try new things. Be open about your anxiety and the parts of the evaluation that make you nervous. You’re a valuator will try to alleviate fears and offer some comfort if they know what you are stressing over. we can all agree that anytime someone is trying something new or trying to change a habit it can be difficult-Express this reality and embrace it!
4) look for resources in your building/district to get ideas and strategies to implement that will impact the standard you are working on. This is critical! look for instructional coaches, department heads, other administrators, and other practitioners who are good at the standard.
5) be confident, be honest with disagreements or confusion about this new process, and be excited about trying something new to be an even stronger teacher and help your students even more. After all, that’s what this is all about.
6) trust is important. If trusting a new evaluator (or the new system) is difficult, perhaps some trust building activities and intentional efforts can pave the way for a collaborative/helpful relationship. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need-if trashed needs to be strengthened, together you should find ways to build trust.
What you should avoid: being defensive, non-communicative, and adversarial with the evaluator/process does not benefit you in any way. As a matter of fact, it makes the relationship strain and can inhibit/delay your growth on the specific standards. Also, feel free to talk about the specific standards and levels and your strengths and weaknesses with colleagues-but don’t play the grading or comparison game. This will feed a stressful climate for you and will only increase anxiety and create an atmosphere of us versus them.
Remember, the new evaluation system is meant for teacher growth not “gotcha”!
Well, I guess there isn’t really a secret to success in the new system. Just partner with your evaluator and walk through the growth process together. That is where the growth comes from.
Maybe we need to change the name of the evaluator to coach. Evaluate her implies that there could be negative consequences-while coach definitely captures the growth concept.