Is your classroom evaluation the "Greatest Show on Earth?"
While working with many schools and districts I often discuss the evaluation process with both principals and their administration, as well as their teachers. It's always a somewhat touchy subject, but I've never been able to figure out why.
Why the current system is lacking
While I fully understand that you have a lot riding on evaluations in your classroom, and administrators need a way to measure the progress of their staff, I don't think the current system of evaluations really does either of these things effectively.
Let me explain
Have you ever had a principal casually let you know that, due to a last minute meeting or emergency, your evaluation would have to be pushed back? I've seen this hundreds of times. Our eyes get wide, you start fidgeting, and then nervously say something like..."Oh...ok...I guess I can teach that lesson tomorrow." (I've also witnessed complete meltdowns...but lets keep it on the positive side of things shall we?)
The problem with this is that you are saying the lesson you planned for tomorrow wasn't good enough to be observed. Only that "special" lesson that you were going to "perform" for your evaluation is good enough. If that special lesson is the only one good enough for an evaluation, then what is wrong with the rest of them? More importantly, why are you using any of the others? The fact is: If a lesson is not good enough to be observed by your principal, it should not be good enough for your students.
Look, I get it. I've been a teacher for long enough to completely understand and realize the intricacies of day to day teaching. Every day is not going to be "magical" and there are going to be things like testing days, assembly days, review days, etc. But overall, don't you think you should be providing students quality instruction daily, no matter who is observing OR NOT observing your classroom?
There are absolutely problems with how teachers are evaluated. I'm not even going to open the can of worms that is the addition of including test scores. I also agree that there are certain biases created by a system that is absolutely too obsessed with rubrics, data, and the ability to provide a number for every aspect of teaching and education. With that said though: Can we please stop putting on shows and just work to give our students the best possible lesson we can every single day?
How I fixed the problem...
I made this shift the last few years in the classroom. I designed and implemented a mastery based instructional system and I started seeing every day as a meaningful and engaging experience for my students. This was great because when my principal would ask me when I would like to be evaluated I just said: "Whenever you are free is fine".
I wasn't scared. I wasn't "performing" anymore. Instead, I was teaching to the best of my ability every single day. The best part about all of it was that I started getting the highest evaluation scores of my career.
Listen...I know it's hard and teachers work harder than any other profession. Believe me, I know. All I'm asking is that the next time you have an evaluation, make sure you're representing the amazing instruction you provide your students every day and you're not just "putting on a show."
You're an amazing educator and you give your students everything you have! Just make sure your principal and the rest of the world knows it!
If you want to know how you can rock out your next evaluation, shoot me an email. I'd love to chat. You can also leave comments below.