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Excellent Evaluations:
Practical Tips for Improving Principals' Observation, Teacher Evaluation Skills

Evaluating teachers is a principal's most important responsibility. Education World's "Principal Files" team offers their advice for doing this process better. Included: What to look for, evaluation form options, walk-through tips and forms, tips for teachers, more.

Evaluating teachers is one of a principal's most important responsibilities. All principals want to do this part of their job well. They strive to use their observations and evaluations to help teachers develop new skills and learn new research-based best practices -- to help those teachers become the best teachers they can be.

Of course some principals are better at this "Rating Game" than others are. Time seems to be the biggest differentiator: A principal who makes it a priority to get into teachers' classrooms on a monthly basis or more frequently than that, even if only for a quick walk-through evaluation, has the definite edge. That principal is more likely than a principal who pops in and out once or twice a year to have a strong sense of his teachers' true skills, provide more meaningful feedback, and lead teachers to reflect more deeply about their classroom abilities.

"Evaluating a teacher is the single most important task a principal has," Dr. Layne Hunt told Education World. "The evaluation process needs to be an ongoing process. Feedback from the principal must always be constructive, objective, and understandable. Then continuous follow up needs to occur to ensure and reinforce that the teacher is making positive steps."

An ongoing evaluation process such as that open lines of communication and allows teachers to ask questions, engage in discussions, and express their comfort level with suggestions, noted Hunt, principal of Monroe (Michigan) High School.

"The principal's primary responsibility is to be a mirror for every teacher," he added. "Mentoring, coaching, suggesting, and guiding are all part of my job."


Education World recently engaged our "Principal Files" team in a discussion about their roles as observers and evaluators of teachers. How do they go about the process? How do they use the process to inspire teachers to want to be the best they can be? And, when professional development plans aren't working, how do principals help teachers recognize that teaching might not be the place for them?

Needless to say, our "P-Files" team had lots to say! Never before has a question inspired principals to respond in such large numbers. You can read what they had to say by clicking the links below.

What Do Principals Look For As They Observe And Evaluate?

It's Not a Dog-and-Pony Show: Tips for Teachers

Principal Observations Take Many "Forms"

Evaluation Advice from Principals in the Trenches

Appendice: Sample Evaluation Forms


Twenty-nine principals from around the world contributed to this article. Click here for a complete list of this article's "principal contributors."


More on Evaluation

See two more new Education World articles:

Walk-Throughs Are On the Move!
Principals use walk-through observations to engage teachers in conversations about student learning. Included: Principals share the benefits of walk-throughs and how to initiate walk-throughs with teachers who might fear frequent classroom visits by principals.

Community Evaluates Superintendent Online
Opening oneself up to an evaluation by the community takes some nerve, but Nashville's superintendent Dr. Pedro Garcia was up for it. The responses are leading to changes in how he communicates with the community. Included: The online evaluation form.



Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 2006 Education World