What Every Educator Should Know
Procedures for personnel evaluation vary by district, yet one rule should be constant for every teacher: know your county school district’s evaluation policy. Early in their employment, every teacher should secure a copy of the state evaluation policy, as well as the forms used for evaluation. Review them, and structure your teaching strategies appropriately. At the first sign of difficulty with your performance, or if you disagree with your evaluation, call your WVEA Organizational Development Specialist or the WVEA Help Center at 1-866-568-9832.
POINTS TO REMEMBER:
Take good notes during the evaluation conferences. Writing will help you focus on what is being said and it will assist you in later recalling what was covered.
Ask clarifying questions in a professional manner, but for the most part be prepared to remain in a “listening mode.” Do not be argumentative.
Before signing the evaluation, carefully read any statements that denote what your signature indicates. If you are uncertain whether to sign the evaluation but have been directed to do so, then add a statement such as “My signature only indicates that I have received a copy.” Before submitting a written response to an evaluation, consult your WVEA Organizational Development Specialist for advice.
Preparation is Key
Preparing for the observation is as important as planning lessons. WVEA’s preparation tips include pre-observation conferences, the observation itself and the post observation conference. The observation is, at best, awkward and should last for at least 30 minutes. Students know it is a change in routine, are sensitive to your reactions and are quick to note differences in your approach. Sometimes this affects their ability to cooperate. If possible, plan a lesson that uses techniques familiar to students. Try to lead the class as you usually do. Have the lesson so well prepared that you don’t have to stop to read notes; doing so creates awkward pauses that students may fill with restlessness. Try to put them at ease and to make them forget an observer is present.
Post Observation Conference
This conference should occur shortly after the observation when you and the evaluator have clear memories of the event. Remember to:
- Let the evaluator do the talking. You take notes and respond to direct questions.
- Ask for clarification or elaboration of observation material. Request specific examples, for instance: What did you see that makes you say that my discipline is good/bad?
- Bring your personal summary of the observation for reference. This is particularly helpful if your view of the facts differs from the evaluator’s. If inaccuracies have occurred, be sure they are corrected and initialed by both of you. Accept all suggestions for improvement and request a demonstration of techniques in your classroom.
- Do not allow yourself to be put in the position of agreeing to an interpretation of poor performance. Agree only that you are open to concrete suggestions to improve your performance. Do not be drawn into a self-incriminating stance.
- Maintain focus on the actions of the class period observed and the purpose stated to promote professional excellence and improve teaching skills.
- When the conference is done, be sure you have received all written materials to which you are entitled and that your signature merely indicates that you have reviewed the written material—not that you agree to it.
Final Evaluation Conference
The final conference should summarize your year’s performance, recognize your growth, direct you in the pursuit of educational excellence, and complete final evaluation forms. Normally, only you and your evaluator are present. If other administrators are present and the situation is threatening, you may request
the presence of an Association Representative.
Personal Records and Rules
At all points, keep a personal log summarizing the conference. The log should note date, time, and length of the observation or conference; name and title of evaluator; copy of the lesson plan taught at the observation; your reaction to the lesson; your observation of the evaluator’s behavior; comments from the evaluator; classroom condition; unusual student reactions; and action taken. When in doubt—file it!