Worried about your evaluation? Here’s what you should know:

The MDE designed teacher evaluations with these goals:

    -Help you take charge of your rating

    -Make your evaluation meaningful to you

    -Hold administration accountable for accuracy and mentorship 

    -Make “improved student achievement the #1 goal, not teacher compliance

    -“Proficient is the expected, rigorous level of performance for educators. It is the demanding but attainable level of performance for most educators.”

    -Allow you to demonstrate, not to be “inspected.”

Don’t sweat it!

Recognize places where it’s acceptable and healthy (for you) to be average. Love yourself anyway! Just like our students are not defined by standardized test scores, you are not defined by one of four categories on the evaluation rubric. It is OK to not be distinguished. It is OK to have some “minimally proficient” areas. The only benefit to a distinguished overall evaluation is that occasionally you don’t have to do the whole ridiculous process. It does not protect or cost you your position; it is not published in the newspaper; it doesn’t nurture your children or your soul; and the tiny cash benefits are a carrot on an ever-moving stick. Don’t let anyone else’s limited perspective take up residence in your brain or heart.

What should an observation look like, anyway?

Observations are actually a minor part of your overall evaluation. Danielsen recommends 15-45 minutes per observation as long as it is for a “full lesson.” Observations are formative assessments, so it is perfectly fine if not everything goes well. Address issues later and show you made a plan for next time. The improving process is more important than any given lesson. 

What about my DATA?

Your data and self-assessment can be done by a TEAM rather than as an individual. Students can track their own data, and their reports can be submitted as evidence of growth. Ask if students who are chronically absent can be placed in a separate category, since your skill as a teacher is not reflected in kids you never see. Set your improvement goals low and then exceed them whenever possible.

How do I respond to low scores?

First, re-read the “Don’t sweat it” section. If you still want to pursue a change in scores, take some action:

    -First, wait until you cool off and then consider the validity. Is he/she possibly correct?

    -Accurate evaluation or not, set a goal before proceeding. Do you want to:

        -see your rating changed?

        -be heard and understood?

        -improve skills for next session?

        -get more information, explanation, or clarification?

 Set up a meeting or respond in writing. Take a building representative with you as a neutral 3rd party “listener.”

    -Start and end your meeting or letter with thanks and a statement of your goal for the meeting/response letter. 

    -Be professional.

    -Be confident but not arrogant

    -Be forthcoming about your strengths

    -Be realistic about yourself and the limitations of the evaluation tool

    -Focus on facts, not your feelings.

    -Ask for clarification

        -What does that mean? 

        -What did you see or read that led you to that conclusion? 

        -What data (multiple sources, please) did you use to make this determination? 

        -How did my self-evaluation affect your ranking in this domain?

        -“Alma (or this age, or this group, or this school year, etc.) is unique because _____. How did you factor that into your evaluation of my effectiveness in this area?”

        -“How is my evaluation rubric used differently or adaptively based on the fact that I teach _______?”

        -“How did you account for the fact that <insert way in which your planning time, instructional time, job assignment, classroom facility, class size, number of preps, mix of students, etc.> is significantly different than most of my peers?”

Ask for a description of the target: What does proficient look like in this area? What, exactly, would you expect a teacher to be doing? Examples:

“What does it look like for kindergartners to be involved in self talk that provides evidence for their thinking?”

“What does a special education classroom look like when students have the locus of control for their learning?”

“What does it look like when students are assessing their own learning in relation with the learning target and success criteria?”

What might you  have done? In your evaluator training, what examples were given that apply to this indicator?

Is this an area in which a lot of teachers struggle? If so, what PD or resources are you investigating to help?

Is there another teacher who is particularly skilled at this? Can I have release time to observe him/her?

Respectfully share evidence:

Examples of applicable teacher behavior you use regularly

A personal story that highlights your ability (specific kid, parent, activity, etc.)

Invite your administrator to watch another lesson in which your skill in that area will be obvious. Principals cannot possibly see everything you can do in one or two visits!

Ask if you can have another teacher observe you and share observations with your principal.

Solicit student evaluations or reflections on a specific component.

How can I set better goals for next year’s evaluation?

You can link your personal goals to Professional Development initiatives. 

When setting personal goals, ask for resources! This is a safety for you.

Look for places where one sentence of the rubric keeps you from the next rail and set those as goals.