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3 Questions to Get You Through Teacher Evaluation Season

I sat across from my principal. I loved working for this woman. She supported my creative classroom adventures. She looked out for her staff. On this particular day, she was wearing a lemon yellow linen suit. She exuded warmth. I was in her office for my teacher evaluation review. After building me up with the "good stuff," she mentioned that I needed to work on meeting deadlines. Puzzled, I asked, "In what way?"

"Well, our evaluation system changed this year, and you missed turning your paperwork into me by a day," she replied. 

Inwardly, I rolled my eyes. It felt like she was stretching for something to ding me on. But, she was right. I did miss that deadline by a day. However, in the big scheme of things, was this one thing really worth documenting on my evaluation? I couldn't argue with her. I was a day late, so I took her feedback on the chin.

As we wrapped up our meeting, she asked me to sign the evaluation paperwork.  "Just sign here," she said. "Oh, and please post date it, because I'm a couple weeks late with this meeting."

I swallowed the laughter bubbling up. After telling me that I missed a deadline and recording it on my evaluation paperwork, she wanted me to fudge one for her. I said nothing, but I can tell you that I smile every time I think of her.  It was another time and place in education. In the big picture, it didn't matter. I was a solid teacher. She knew it, and I knew it, and my evaluation feedback said so. 

Now, teacher evaluations have morphed into an entirely different experience.  I sit on the bench outside my principal's office.  I hold my iobserve print-out of my goals, my evaluation report my school district and state requires, complete with colored graphs and reflection statements, and copies of the lesson plans (Marzano strategies identified in color) I  prepared and my principal observed.  Sometimes it feels like I'm defending a doctoral thesis!

There are three questions I remember when I'm preparing to be observed or evaluated. They make a huge difference for my students, and the quality of my teaching. 

I prepare for my observation by identifying what I'll teach and how I'll teach it. We use Marzano's framework, so after I have an idea about my lesson, I spend some time thinking about how I'll apply his framework. I use the Marzano flip cards I developed for this. They're handy, and I use them anytime I'm asked to reflect about my teaching and my students' learning.  Then, I ask myself, "How will I know if my students have met the learning goal?"


Next, I look at my lesson, and I ask myself "What will I do if they don't get it?" This question helps me think through the differentiation I will need to address my students' varied needs. How will I respond when my students struggle? I have contingency plans in place, just in case.  Incidentally, this is another Marzano strategy. 

Finally, I ask myself, "What will I do if they do get it?" Do I have higher level differentiation in place? What if this is easier than I expect? How will I add challenge? How will I increase rigor? I find that when my learning activities are student-centered and open-ended, this is pretty easy to do. 

When I ask myself these 3 questions, and I wear my Marzano goggles when viewing my own teaching, my evaluation conferences are authentic. I'm able to be reflective about my teaching and my students' learning experiences. To me, that's what professional growth is all about...the ability to reflect and then act on that reflection.





As a former literacy coach,  I saw first hand the empowerment teachers feel when they can identify and then reflect on their teaching strategies.   One of the difficulties I ran into as a coach is that teachers often had a hard time identifying what they did to make a lesson "work." They needed an easy go-to resource at their finger tips.   So I created that resource, and, I put it into the hands of my coachees and the new teachers I was mentoring! Now that I've returned to the classroom, I use my Quality Instruction Tool constantly. 

You can find it by clicking the picture!


Give WE TEACH SO HARD A LISTEN! This episode is all about teacher evaluation. We laugh, commiserate and talk shop about evaluation season. Click the image!


This month, I've teamed up with some phenomenal teachers. Check out their goodies below!










Inlinkz Link Party

3 comments

  1. Tracy I love the story about the principal. You've got so many great ideas to help teachers deal with dreaded evaluations. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. These 3 questions for self-reflection are so helpful and important! Thank you! I'd be rolling my eyes at the hypocrisy of the deadlines, too; LOL. And I LOVE the podcast! Hilarious stories and good, solid tips!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I wish I could talk to her now. She would get a kick out of this memory! LOL

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