As I have been working with teachers on the process of evaluations, I have found that the dialogue we are having continues to serve multiple purposes. Throughout all of my conversations, there is an opportunity to provide meaningful feedback to the great things that are happening within each classroom. Every teacher has something that needs showcased. And, as the human spirit would agree, all of us enjoy the validation and reinforcement of the time and energy we put into our planning and delivery of our teaching.
Likewise, through a climate of trust and support, we can discuss and process areas that a teacher may want to improve, grow and be an area of refinement. The teachers that take away the most from these conversations are the ones that are open to criticism and open to suggestions for improvement. Just like we appreciate being told we are doing our jobs well, we also need to be equally receptive to being told we can still be better.
In my own reflection of my conversations with teachers during the first round of observations I have learned the following:
- Listen - During both the pre and post observation conversations, ensure that teachers take the time to talk through what might work, what did work and what didn't work. As educators we spend so much time talking that sometimes we forget to listen.
- Validate - Praise the good and don't dodge the bad. Remind our teachers that failing is a part of the process. We are all expected to fail. Don't just brush it off, discuss, then move on.
- Brainstorm - Work collectively to fix those failures. How can it be taught differently? What resources would improve the experience? Discuss through the eyes of the students. They are ones that will benefit the most!
- Plan - Have a direction, a plan, of how future lessons will incorporate your findings. Determine who will carry it out (the plan) and how it will be monitored? (Observations, peers, student assessments.)
- Deliver - Make it happen! The truth is that the only way to grow is through trial and error. Get into the classroom and incorporate the conversation.
- Reflect - Sit back and take it in. At the end of the day make sure to follow-up and talk it through. Whether it is a 5 minute conversation or a 30 minute formal post observation, talk it through and give credit where credit is due. Remember, it is a collaborative process.
As you work through your evaluations with your teachers take the time to embrace the conversations you have with each of them. If you are part of a team of administrators within a building, make sure to discuss your process and findings together. The reality is that over time you are going to overlap in your evaluation of teachers and having a similar framework will ease teachers each time the process comes back around.