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The following is an excerpt from Chapter 14: “Practice” of Dr. Dianna Whitlock’s published book, “Teacher Evaluation as a Growth Process.” To purchase the full book, visit Amazon or Barnes&Noble.

Part 3, Chapter 14: Practice

Practice

This section of the book is intended to discuss the process of evaluating teachers.  However, it is cautionary, as there is no one checklist of how to items when it comes to teacher evaluation.  We will outline some best practices and points of consideration for those establishing or developing their teacher evaluation guidelines. 

Terminology centering around teacher evaluation varies by state and even by district.  We often hear administrators and teachers talk about observations, evaluations, short, long, mini, walkthroughs, etc.  Let’s begin with the terminology for observation and evaluation.

We sometimes think of any visit to our classrooms by an evaluator as an evaluation, when often, these are really observations. An observation is a visit of any length (walkthrough, short, or long) to take notes on what is going on in the classroom.  An evaluation, by contrast, is the analysis of the compilation of this observational data, in conjunction with other documentation (lesson plans, etc.), to place a judgment of the teachers’ overall performance.  Some people equate the observation to qualitative data (scripting or note taking) and the evaluation to the quantitative domain (numerical). 

Many schools are abandoning quick classroom checklists in favor of more comprehensive observations by both peers and administrators. As we have discussed, some of these changes have been mandated by legislation.  However, teacher evaluations that rely on numerous highly structured classroom observations have become increasingly popular by all school systems. Some schools indicate that it has led to significant improvements in teacher performance (Taylor & Tyler, 2012). It is worth noting that this is not an either/or decision.  Checklists, walkthroughs, and hall walks can provide beneficial supporting qualitative data to the comprehensive practice of teacher evaluation.  It is when schools limit these to serve as the only indicator of teacher performance, and do not integrate them into an all-encompassing system of evaluation, that we limit the feedback and conversation essential to teacher growth and development. 

Below is a sample flowchart for administrators implementing a teacher evaluation process.  As always, district and state mandates may apply.  Please ensure that you are following your individual district and state requirements. 

Of course, this is just a small portion of the cycle.  As stated in previous chapters, observations are continuous and ongoing.   

When conducting teacher performance evaluations, it is important to first determine what your district requires and values as good teaching. Regardless of these specific indicators, teachers and administrators must be engaged in its development to set the tone for growth and development. Teacher evaluations are a significant component of the administrator’s management duties.  To ensure that teachers are receptive to performance evaluations, encourage them to better engage in the practice by establishing expectations that encourage communication and allow teacher representatives to be part of the initial brainstorming sessions for rubric development. Encouraging this participation will set the tone that this is not a one-way dialogue, but collaboration that encourages self-assessment of their own performance.

To continue reading the full study findings, click here to purchase the full book.

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