It’s always an interesting experience when an administrator observes your class, and evaluates you as a teacher. Teacher evaluations can make teachers nervous. Having people who are not normally in the classroom observe, adds another level of stress beyond the daily classroom troubles. Students can also be nervous or disruptive because of the strangers in the classroom.
The Purpose of Teacher Evaluations
Teacher evaluations are very important for assessing how well the teacher is performing, how well the students are managed, how effective the curriculum and instructional methods are, and to form ideas on improving techniques and lessons. School districts (at least in the US) are also needing to tie-in student achievement with teacher evaluations.
While evaluation criteria might differ from state to state (province to province), school districts may use similar standards that are set up by the state (or province) and national boards of education.
Teacher Evaluation Guidelines
The University of Michigan’s Center for Research on Teaching and Learning (CTRL) has some guidelines to use when creating teacher evaluations:
- Multiple Teaching Methods – It’s important that teachers vary their instructional methods. This ensures that students of with different learning styles are able to complete the lesson and understand its targeted objectives. Differentiated instruction also demonstrates the teacher’s ability to be flexible in the classroom with a variety of students from different backgrounds.
- Faculty Responsibilities – A teacher has many responsibilities: planning lessons, assessing student learning, talking with parents, attending staff meetings, attending professional development workshops and seminars, as well as keeping up-to-date with curriculum and instructional methods. Teachers are evaluated on how well they balance these responsibilities. It’s a tough task, but teachers are responsible to hold up a standard of professionalism.
- Individualizing Teacher Evaluations – While there needs to be some standard all teachers are evaluated by, schools districts and administrators should also formulate individualized teacher assessments. As teachers come from all kinds of backgrounds and teaching styles, one type of evaluation might not be as applicable as another. Furthermore, teacher assessments should be longitudinal, meaning they are given semi-frequently over a span the teacher’s entire career. Schools track and record student progress yearly through assessment tests; they should also track and record teacher progress.
- What is assessed – Teaching evaluation has as its central element the assessment of the quality of classroom instruction. Since teaching includes activities broader than classroom instruction, evaluation of teaching must assess more than classroom performance. While departments and schools may identify additional items, among the teaching activities that may be assessed are the following:1. quality, amount, and level of classroom instruction (including shared instruction)
2. development of curricula, new courses, and classroom materials;
3. supervision and mentoring of graduate students, including chairing of dissertations;
4. service on graduate examination and dissertation committees;
5. one-on-one consultation with students, including supervision of independent study and readings courses;
6. supervision of teaching assistants in undergraduate courses;
7. conduct and supervision of laboratory instruction;
8. supervision of undergraduate and graduate research;
9. advising students in the major;
10. supervision of field work; and
11. supervision of clinical and practicum experiences. (Source: CRTL website)
The American Federation of Teachers also has a list of criteria of an effective teacher evaluation system. In both the CRTL and AFT’s lists, the teachers should be well-trained in how the evaluation system works, and what will be evaluated. They should also understand how their evaluation affects their professional file, future job prospects and/or promotional opportunities.
Make It or Break It?
Teaching evaluations should not be the deciding factor in whether teachers retain employment or are laid-off. However, teaching evaluations serve a valuable purpose to ensure teachers are providing quality educational instruction to students, upholding state (provincial) and national educational standards, and give valuable insight on where a teacher can improve.
*What are your opinions on teacher evaluations?*