For most teachers, the phrase ‘teacher evaluation’ will immediately induce feelings of stress and panic.
What to do for an upcoming teacher evaluation
Feeling like your teaching is being judged or that you will be deemed a bad teacher can make a teacher feel uncomfortable in their classroom and affect their performance during evaluation. It is important to remember that teacher evaluations are not tests designed to penalize you, rather they are a tool to help you grow as a teacher.
From my personal experience as a teacher, I have summarized important information to consider when you have an upcoming teacher evaluation.
You should be given notice prior to when your teacher evaluation will take place, this could be a specific date and time or could be a two-week window in which the evaluation will take place. If you do not have a set date, ensure all the lessons you plan in the given time frame best represent your teaching.
Understand how you will be assessed
Just as you teach your students to follow specific criteria, your teaching will be analyzed for specific features. For example, teachers in Texas may be evaluated by T-TESS who base their evaluations on four areas, planning, instruction, learning environment, professional practices, and responsibilities.
Each of these categories will have different subcategories and by familiarizing yourself with this criteria, you can ensure your lessons and teaching meets the necessary requirements.
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice
Your colleagues and peers want to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask them about their past experiences with being evaluated and see if they have any advice to offer you. For a more formal discussion about your evaluation ask your teaching mentor to have a sit-down or short meeting with you, they will have most likely witnessed your teaching before and be able to offer you any advice on areas you need to approve.
Make the most of your pre-conference
Before your evaluation you should have a pre-conference with whoever is evaluating you, this could be your vice principal for example. Ensure you make the most of this time by asking for clarification on anything you feel uncertain about. Your evaluator should break down the performance ratings that you may receive and inform you what is considered average and where you are expected to fall on the ratings.
Questions to ask yourself while preparing for your evaluation:
- How can I bring the best out of my students in a lesson?
- What are my strengths as a teacher and how can I showcase this?
- How will the lesson contribute to the students learning module?
- Is your classroom decorated how you like it?
- Are your students seated in the best way?
Before your evaluation, test drive your lesson. This does not mean you repeat the same lesson twice, rather test a lesson structure with a similar topic and see how your students respond to it. Remember, your evaluator wants to see you on an average day so your lesson plans should be similar to what you usually produce for your students.
During the evaluation, don’t panic! Just stay calm and try to treat the evaluation as if it is a normal lesson. Teach as you feel comfortable and feel free to move around your classroom and engage with your students, don’t feel like you just have to stand at the front of your class rigidly. Above all, have confidence in yourself as a teacher as no matter what the outcome of your evaluation is, the experience will help you grow and improve.