How to Prepare for Your First-Year Teachers Evaluation

As a new teacher, be aware that you will undergo evaluations by school principals or other administrators. Such evaluations often cause some anxiety for new teachers, but it’s important to view them in a positive light.

The evaluators are responsible for assessing new teachers’ performance. The frequency of assessment differs not only according to the district regulations, but also according to individual differences in evaluators. The number of visits for evaluation range from once a year to once every month, but on average, it’s a quarterly visit. Rehiring, terminating, and even merit pay largely depend on this evaluation, so it’s important for you to have a good idea about how you’ll be evaluated. Some preparation work is necessary, and this is your responsibility.

Check the education department Web site to see how the visits are arranged in the local area, and also seek advice from your mentor teacher on what evaluators are looking for during the assessment. After the evaluation, you’ll receive feedback. Take this feedback seriously, because it will provide ideas on how to strengthen your skills and work on your weaker areas. And research shows that teachers who get the most feedback from the classroom are the most satisfied with teaching.

Feedback is usually based on three components of evaluation:

1. Quantitative Evaluation

The quantitative approach simply looks at how many times a teacher undertakes certain actions such as questioning, praising, and critiquing. In another quantitative approach, the evaluator takes a quick look at each student for about 20 seconds and records his or her activities. For example, “Amy was concentrated on the task” or “Ben was disturbing the students sitting nearby him.”
When the U.S. Department of Education announced its $4.35 billion Race to the Top Grant competition, one of the stipulations of eligibility to compete required states not to have any legal, statutory, or regulatory barriers to linking data on student achievement or student growth to teachers’ evaluation. Since the passage of the Race to the Top Act in 2010, many states have been focusing on addressing the Act’s emphasis on student achievement as part of the teacher evaluation process.

2. Qualitative Evaluation

A qualitative approach measures the complexity of the classroom environment that may not be accurately measured by quantitative methods. Evaluators write down their own description of the classroom, which will later serve as a guide for giving subjective feedback to the teachers.

3. Clinical Supervision

A more detailed form of evaluation is clinical supervision, which includes the following four steps:
1) A supervisor’s meeting with a teacher
2) Classroom observation
3) Analysis of observation
4) Post-observation meeting with the supervisor

In the initial meeting, supervisors and teachers schedule the observation date and determine the focus of the evaluation. At the meeting after the observation, teachers and supervisors work together to create plans for improvement.

Although this clinical supervision method is most effective, implementing a four-step procedure for every new teacher is time-consuming. Teachers will thus often encounter modified versions of such evaluation. Some have regular, unannounced visits of 5 minutes a few times a day during the evaluation period, and after each short visit, the evaluators and teachers have a follow-up conversation. Some aspects that may be observed are whether the teacher stays on the topic and doesn’t get sidetracked, whether the students understand the teacher’s words, and whether the classroom environment has enthusiasm.

Although you may be tempted to feel intimidated or uncomfortable with evaluations at first, most teachers soon find that feedback from knowledgeable and understanding evaluators can improve classroom attitudes and teaching behaviors.

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