EducationWorld is pleased to present this administrator advice shared by Adam Cobb, regional manager with Halogen Software. Cobb helps K-12 schools and districts optimize their teacher and staff evaluation processes.
Most of us are familiar with the basic practices that make up a good teacher evaluation process: observe, measure and track performance; give feedback effectively; conduct teacher evaluation meetings; and coach to support performance throughout the year.
There are, however, several other performance management practices that can help improve the effectiveness of your teacher evaluation process. Districts and even individual schools can easily adopt any or all of them to maximize the impact of evaluations.
Conduct Self-Assessments to Get Each Teacher's Perspective
A fairly simple practice to implement at the district or school level is teacher self-assessments. You can use the same form you do for teacher evaluations, or create a slightly modified version. The purpose of the self-assessment is to get each teacher’s perspective on his or her performance. This is a powerful way to give educators a voice in the evaluation process and help them feel more engaged.
Administrators and principals unfamiliar with the practice often worry that teachers will give themselves glowing reviews and ratings, making the evaluation meeting more difficult when there are performance problems. Experience shows, however, that the opposite tends to be true. When we evaluate ourselves, we tend to be much harsher than others. Getting the teacher’s perspective is an invaluable way to get more information on performance and prepare the evaluator for the meeting. It prepares all parties to gain insight into expectations and address differences in opinion or perspective.
Seek the Opinions of Others with 360-Degree Reviews
Another effective technique that helps increase objectivity of teacher evaluations is gathering 360-degree feedback from others. Multi-rater feedback can help avoid bias, get a different perspective on teachers’ performance, and better identify areas requiring coaching or development.
You can collect feedback from other teachers, non-teaching professionals, and even parents, volunteers or students — anyone who interacts with the teacher on a regular basis and can give you insight into his/her performance. When you substantiate feedback by gathering it from multiple, credible sources, you make it more objective and increase its impact.
Align Teachers’ Goals with District Goals
When you’re assigning teachers goals as part of the evaluation process, it’s important to give these goals a larger context. This helps educators understand why their work is important and how they’re contributing to the district’s success. Research on engagement has shown that this context-setting is vital to performance. It helps staff feel that their work matters.
There’s a famous story about a visitor to NASA headquarters who came across a janitor sweeping the floor. When he asked the janitor what he was doing, the janitor replied: “I'm helping to put a man on the moon.” It’s this kind of goal alignment that helps drive up everyone’s performance and engagement.
Help Teachers Succeed with Development Plans
Districts and schools often do development planning separately from their teacher evaluation process. But staff development and performance improvement plans are much more powerful when they’re integrated. The teacher evaluation meeting is typically the prime time for discussing performance deficiencies. Creating and documenting development plans during the meeting therefore helps to communicate the evaluator’s and the district’s commitment to the teacher, and their expectations for improvement. This type of planning also gives the teacher a clear context for personal professional development.
The evaluation meeting is also a wonderful opportunity to discuss the teacher’s career aspirations, both short and long-term, and explore opportunities for advancement. Feeling that they have a career path is another key contributor to teacher engagement.
Reward Good Performance
You can help expand the value and impact of your teacher evaluation process by implementing a pay-for-performance or other reward program. Performance ratings should be a known and visible factor in determining rewards. Merit increases, bonuses and other forms of reward or recognition should be integrated with your teacher evaluation process so that they serve to reinforce desired behaviors and performance.
Taking Teacher Evaluations to the Next Level
Teacher evaluations should be about much more than documenting and delivering feedback and coaching. When expanded beyond the basics, they become a powerful tool not only for helping educators develop and achieve their full potential, but also for helping drive student success.
Copyright © 2012 Education World