3 Tips for a Quality Teacher Evaluation
There’s no denying that evaluating employees is necessary to assess their effectiveness and provide a target for improvement.
But how many of you have spent quality time observing teachers and writing up evaluations, only to be met with push back due to perceived criticisms, or apathy?
Recent studies have found that coaching is a promising new model for professional development, especially in the field of education.
This means that we need to be intentional about how and when we review staff and remember that our job as leaders is not to simply provide a pass/fail or point out weaknesses, but to provide educators with the tools they need to achieve ever greater success in their role.
Today we’ll walk through a few tips on staff reviews and explore how we as leaders, directors, and owners can provide our team with honest feedback that will give them the tools to grow their skills, while helping you grow your business!
Here are three tips for a quality staff evaluation.
1. Timing is Everything
When it comes to evaluations, timing is key. If you lead a center that’s centered around the school calendar I suggest doing a review twice a year.
Have the first at the midpoint in the school year, usually February, and the second at the end of the school year when you are determining placements for the year ahead.
The mid-year review is by far my favorite. This gives you a chance to sit down with the staff member and talk over what they are doing well, what is going okay, and any areas they feel need improvement.
Often you’ll be surprised at how much the staff contribute to the conversation -many not only prefer to give themselves feedback - but are more likely to act on it. It’s also a great time to check in with them to get a sense of how they’re doing, and how you can help support them.
The end of the year evaluation is a bit different, because this is one you would use to close a chapter and look ahead to a new one. The school year is over and you are preparing for another one ahead.
During this review, talk over any successes you saw this year, any concerns the staff may have, and offer tools they can use over the summer to prepare for the coming school year.
Two reviews a year will give you a chance to formally connect and offer targets for success, but remember that many employees, particularly millennials, prefer regular daily or weekly SMART feedback rather than a big list of their weaknesses twice a year - so be sure to pepper staff with informal feedback between evaluations - especially to let your key performers know they are appreciated.
2. Use an Effective Evaluation Tool
When planning formal evaluation make sure that you’re using an effective evaluation tool. A strong review has three essential components: an in-class observation, a written review, and a meeting to discuss the review. We’ll discuss the first two components below.
Each part in the evaluation plays an important role in the process and it all starts with the actual observation visit. For the observation give yourself at least 20 minutes to sit in the classroom and watch the teacher interact with students during a lesson.
This is a great way to review their skills by watching them in action, while also seeing if they’ve succeeded in creating a positive classroom culture.
Be sure to take notes for your written review, and make sure you have an updated form that relates to the particular teacher's role. Don’t feel that you have to reinvent the wheel, you can borrow from existing performance appraisals and modify them to fit the roles at your centre.
Once you’ve carried out your observation and created your written review, it’s time to sit down and discuss the results with your team member.
3. Schedule Time to Review
One of the most important aspects of the evaluation process is taking the time to actually sit down and discuss the review with the reviewee (yes that’s a word :)). Make sure that you give yourself enough time to cover all aspects of the evaluation without feeling the need to rush.
Depending on your comfort level and chosen format the length of the review could vary, but 30 minutes is generally a great time frame for an honest, upbuilding, and productive conversation.
Never rush a review because it’s one of the few times you get to sit down with staff one on one and really get a feel for how they think things are going. You also never know what they might want to discuss so leave room for them to ask questions or give you feedback on the process as well.
Although ideally you’re able to give daily or weekly feedback informally, prioritize formally scheduled time to review each individual staff member on your team throughout the year as well.
This process will go a long way in building your relationship with staff and will help consolidate all the effective feedback you’ve given them informally, so they can continue to set goals for themselves and see you as a coach helping them achieve those goals, rather than a boss criticizing their work.
Let’s be honest, everyone wants to be great at their job. Instead of getting overwhelmed by reviews due to the time required and the potential for conflict, learn to see teacher evaluations as an opportunity to coach your staff to greater success.
By giving timely feedback that focuses on learning and growth, using effective informal and formal evaluations, and taking time to sit down to discuss your evaluation with each staff member and examine how they’re progressing in their role, you’ll find that constructive teacher evaluation is not a necessary evil, but a stepping stone to a strong reputation and cornerstone to creating a learning culture for students and teachers alike!