Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Preparing for the Teacher Evaluation

This year, I was asked to be one of the evaluators of new teachers in the district. I like this because I get to use my experience to help others and also to make sure that we have quality (not just qualified) teachers in my field. After doing this I realized that maybe someone should tell new teachers how to prepare for an evaluation. There is a general meeting to discuss what is expected but I think more specifics need to be given. This evaluation is important because it determines whether this new teacher gets a contract to return so it is in their best interest to look their best. Here are some things that I would suggest:

1. If you get an email or phone call from your evaluator, respond promptly.
2. If you are given a time frame of when you are going to be observed, treat every day as if it might be the day an evaluator shows up.
3. Plan a place for the evaluator to sit in case you are asked where the best place is.
4. Be on time for every class. (You do not want the first impression to be that you are often late to class and the class is left unattended.)
5. Prepare your class that an evaluator may show up and what you expect from the class.
6. Look your best. (When you feel you look great, this will show confidence during your observation.)
7. Have your lesson plans and grade book filled out correctly and available for the evaluator.
8. Have several extra activities available in case your lesson ends early (whenever I was observed, I was so nervous that my lessons went faster than I expected.)
9. If you are expected to present a portfolio, make sure you have as much of the information required in it and ready to show the evaluator. Don’t make excuses that you are still working on it because this evaluation should be a priority.
10. Go over your evaluation form to make sure that you are covering each item in your lessons. (I have gone so far as to actually prepare a script for my lessons to hit these points until it becomes second nature.)
11. Connect your lesson to a real life situation for your students so they will see how they will use this skill.
12. Use a variety of teaching strategies. Don’t lecture the whole time or have a class discussion the whole time. They may work sometimes in your class but the evaluator wants to see a variety of teaching strategies during this time.
13. Don’t worry about bad behavior in your class as long as you show that you can handle it. The evaluator knows that kids might act up with a stranger in the room. This is your chance to show how well you handle discipline.
14. Give frequent feedback to the students to let them know how they are doing.
15. Ask for feedback so you know that they understand how to do the assignment.

I hope these suggestions will help you pass your evaluations with flying colors!


Joel said...

I think even more importantly than these is to treat every day with as much importance as you treat the evaluation. If you are approaching teaching with the utmost of professionalism and seriousness, then everything else will end up falling into place.

These are great tips, with a couple of exceptions...

I have personally never prepared my students for an evaluation. I remember teachers doing it and have even heard stories of teachers teaching the same lesson the day before the evaluation so that the students know what to say and all that.

I do all of these except for #5 and #10. I glance over the evaluation form early on in the year just to make sure I am doing those things. I generally do a more thorough lesson plan than I normally would for that day, but I want for him to understand that it is authentic teaching going on and that I am not giving them some sort of dog an pony show.

Of course, I am not interested in getting "Exceptional Quality" or whatever on the evaluation. As long as I am doing my job and producing high quality results, I will pass, and I will be renewed.

Of course, if you are not approaching education as seriously as you ought to be, then by all means run the dog and pony show for a class period and get your contract renewed!

loonyhiker said...
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loonyhiker said...

Joel: Thanks for your comments. Even though I know I am a great teacher, whenever I get observed, I freeze up. You definitely have more confidence than I do. In fact, when I've been in a school for a lot of years, I mentioned this to my administrators. The past 5 years, I have had an administrator actually eat lunch in my room a few days a week (I had the old home ec room) and my observations were done when I didn't know it. This is what they did to help me overcome the "freeze". My model lesson was usually the way I normally taught but it helped me show the admin what I normally do if I froze. I don't know why I did this but it happened every time I was formally observed every year. If there is any teachers out there like me, I hope this helps. I forgot to say, if a person isn't approaching education seriously, I think they should get out of the business and find another career. Maybe there needs to be a slogan: Only the serious need apply.

Joel said...

I understand. As a musician, I have known more than a few people who suffer with performance anxiety. I suppose I've been blessed to not have any problems with that. In fact, I am one of the few people I know who actually LOVES taking tests.

I really do seem to thrive with the added pressure. I know that performance experience has helped me to become more comfortable in performances (especially speaking at concerts and preaching in church). Since I go on stage every Sunday morning and play keyboard (not one of my strongest instruments), it makes being on stage for me second nature.

I like the idea of having the administrators in your room for lunch. That should improve the way you deal with the added pressure you experience!

The moment a parent or administrators or any other adult walks in my room, I focus more on the students. I intentionally do not make eye contact with my new observer. I practically ignore them. I have found that if I glance over at them, it doesn't help anything, so I just avoid doing that.

I find that the kids generally behave better when our visitor is an administrator than they do on most other days and they stay quieter. That makes my life much easier.

loonyhiker said...

Since I teach special ed students, any changes (including a new person in the room) could really throw them off which is the main reason I prepare them. My special ed students did not do well with changes and when a new person comes in, they would begin to ask why is that person here, and want to talk to them which throws me off and it is hard to get them to focus back on the lesson. I like what you said about the eye contact and I didn't think of that one. I play an accordion now (I also play the organ and guitar) but I hate to play in front of people. Now I play my accordion once a week at a nursing home, which I hope helps me get over some of my anxiety. They love me and they don't care of I make mistakes. I envy people like you who can get on stage and be your natural self. (maybe there is hope for me someday!)