Evaluation: to determine or fix the value of; to determine the significance, worth, or condition of usually by careful appraisal and study; the making of a judgment about the amount, number, or value of something; assessment.
In the world of education, the word evaluation often triggers anxiety, and for some, fear due to previous negative experiences with poor evaluations, or evaluators. These human responses are the same automatic responses experienced when you feel that you are in imminent danger, a powerfully negative effect on a process that is supposed to illicit a response that triggers your desire to share your personal and professional growth with a supportive leader. Evaluations are time-consuming, and they should be meaningful. When a teacher’s energy is engaged in work directed away from students, it can be frustrating for both teachers and students. Most administrators would say that evaluation goals are about teaching in the classroom, as this is what they seek to observe. This is a partial truth. When we truly apply professional standards and seek growth as an educator, there is significant research, data, writing, preparing, reflecting, and processing that must take place.
Further, interaction with the evaluator, interfacing with required technology that may be faulty, unwritten protocols and directions for use, and other such issues turn into a countless landslide of hours. How do you get through the evaluation process without wasting time? Ask for help. Seek advice from veteran teachers. Make sure you and your evaluator are clear about the focus of your agreed upon goals. Be sure to clarify the scope of evidence required, and communicate often.
New teachers experience the evaluation process every year, as they are less experienced and benefit from support that may be offered through the positive prompting and guidance from a secure, experienced, and skilled evaluator. Including the mentor teacher who is providing coaching, instructional support, and structure for a new teacher to grow as an educator can be a valuable resource in the evaluation process. Mentors and new teachers have already established an environment where sharing, support, and collaboration is part of the culture an evaluator observes.
Teachers who have taught for longer periods have become accustomed to the evaluation process, but may feel that it impedes personal growth. Is it a simple exercise in filling out tedious paperwork in regard to something you already do quite well? Do you respect the administrator who is the evaluator? Is the administrator too inexperienced to perform evaluations? Do you find the process tired and trite?
When you find yourself in the evaluation cycle earlier than expected, and you have performed well in the past, you often feel wronged.
“Why am I being evaluated?”
Here are a few items to consider.
- If you are not a tenured teacher, you are evaluated every year.
- If you are a tenured teacher, you are evaluated every other year at the minimum through your tenth year with our district.
- After your tenth year passes, you may be evaluated as little as every four years, and as much as every year.
- No matter how long you have been teaching in our district, if you receive a “basic” overall rating, you may be evaluated the following year, or until you no longer have a “basic” rating.
- If an individual receives a “basic” rating, the contract outlines supports that should be given to assist professional growth.
- Are you teaching a new subject or grade level? This may be a reason for evaluation.
If you have questions, see your site representatives, or members of the grievance committee. Read your contract, pages 50-58, and appendices G1. Ask for a meeting with your previous evaluator so that they may clarify the reasons you are being evaluated. As always, you may have a LCTA representative attend meetings with you for support. Remember there are people all around you who can help. Support is literally next door. It just takes a step forward, and one sentence, “Can you take a look at my goals?”
See you soon.
Sue Cronon, President