Sunday, August 11, 2013

Teacher Evaluation Systems: Prepare

As school year 2013-2014 begins, make the time to prepare for your evaluation process.

As I listened to Tony Wagner's riveting education talk yesterday, I was struck by the fact that what he points to as exemplary for student learning is exactly what we're expected to do for our professional evaluations: assessing our practice, developing goals, strategizing, learning, implementing, collaborating (leaders and educators), collecting and demonstrating evidence, and reflecting once again.  By investing our time and effort into this practice, we'll model and learn about a process that's advantageous to our student learners as well.

The key factors to this process are knowledge and preparation.  The more that you take ownership of the practice, and the time you invest upfront will make all the difference.

The following is a list of advantageous steps with regard to professional evaluation.  While the specific details relate to Massachusetts' evaluations, I imagine the steps are quite similar in other States and countries.
  • Know what is expected and assess your own practice. 
  • Understand the timelines and specific details related to the system you work in--my school system's evaluation pilot team put together a website to guide teachers' work. Please note that websites are not always up to date so make sure you check with administrators to confirm information on websites. 
  • Create an online or offline professional binder to post your goals, collect evidence, display your resume, and add other important items (example).
  • Get in the practice of collecting your evidence regularly.  There are many ways to do this including the following:
    • Make a chart to collect evidence links and examples. Student work can be photographed or scanned for online binders. Emails and other information can easily be screenshot or screencast for online binders too.
    • Start a professional blog where you publicly or privately detail your work. (example)
    • After collegial meetings or lessons related to your goals, make a few minutes to collect evidence and reflect. 
    • Regularly add evidence to an offline binder. 
    • Share your evidence with your evaluator when asked. Make sure you keep your own copies as well. 
  • Work with your leaders to make sure you have what you need to achieve your goals including professional learning opportunities, necessary tools, and collaboration/planning time. If you don't have what you need, work with the leadership to access tools and make new decisions if the materials, time, or learning is not available. 
  • Make time regularly to update your professional work, and try to stay one step ahead of the process. 
Please contact me if you have any questions about the process.  I am happy that Massachusetts has decided to adopt a broad framework for education evaluations rather than test scores alone, however, I want to see every educator utilize this process to empower and develop their work in ways that benefit student learning and professional practice well.

Also, if you're willing, add examples of your evaluation work, stories, and helpful tips that will guide and empower educators in this process in the comments section below.  If you have trouble adding a comment, simply email me at, and I'll add the comment.