Public school principals have one of the most intensive and time-demanding jobs. One of the principal’s many duties includes evaluating teachers, while meeting the regulated timelines of the evaluation process set forth by the district. In general, performance evaluations are a very personal experience, and can be a stressful or frustrating experience for all stakeholders involved. Here are some general tips for evaluators to ensure the evaluation experience is meaningful and productive:
Promote “Hope” to Gain Trust
It can be extremely difficult to gain an individual’s trust, especially when you are the one evaluating their job performance. While working to build trust with employees, don’t underestimate the powerful role that “hope” plays in building meaningful relationships. If someone has hope, that means they are invested in a positive outcome and will work to achieve it. Some teachers may not say they “trust" their administrator, but they often have a deep-seated hope for a future professional relationship of trust and security.
Evaluate with Empathy
Being mindful of the many demands placed on teachers and the stress they may feel when being evaluated. When first meeting with a teacher, it may be helpful to share your own prior experiences of being evaluated, such as feedback or suggestions you found valuable in your own classroom. Additionally, you may wish to share the rubric by which you are evaluated, and share your own personal nervousness or concerns about being evaluated by the Superintendent. This establishes empathy and understanding early in the evaluation process, which provides a stepping stone to establish future trust-based relationships within the evaluation process.
Clearly Define the Process
Since performance reviews are a very personal experience, it is essential to make sure both parties are extremely clear on the evaluation process. It is important at your first “pre-conference” meeting to review the evaluation timeline and process in a one-on-one setting, even when staff have a copy of the evaluation handbook. Every person processes information differently, so clarifying the parts of the process (like what an informal observation is) and the timing of those experiences is essential to build a supportive culture and trust surrounding the evaluation process within your school.
It is important to note that information and/or artifacts should not be withheld until the summative evaluation at the end of the process. Sharing evaluation data early and in a timely manner allows the teacher to improve and demonstrate growth in areas that need improvement. The informal and formal evaluation data typically have a set timeline that administrators are required to document and share information with the teacher. This sets up the summative meeting to be a recap of growth and a celebration of ares of expertise, rather than feeling like a sneak attack of negative feedback.
Establishing the teacher evaluation process as a nurturing, honest, and skill-building activity, will positively enhance the evaluation experience for both the teacher and the administrator. When a school has a culture of hope and trust, that culture will support amazing outcomes for students as well!
Learn how our EmbraceEVAL® software can increase transparency and collaboration between educators and evaluators here!