A School Administrator's Guide to Effective Teacher Evaluation

The teacher evaluation process is a significant part of a school administrator's duties. This is an important part of teacher development as an evaluation should be the guiding instrument for improvement.  It is essential that school leaders conduct thorough and accurate evaluations full of valuable information that can help a teacher grow and improve. Having a firm understanding of how to conduct an evaluation effectively is essential. The following seven steps will help guide you to becoming a successful teacher evaluator. Each step focuses on a different aspect of the teacher evaluation process.

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Know Your State's Teacher Evaluation Guidelines

teacher evaluation
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Every state has different guidelines and procedures for administrators to follow when evaluating. Most states require administrators to attend mandatory teacher evaluation training before they can begin to formally evaluate teachers. It is necessary to study your specific state's laws and procedures on evaluating teachers. It is also crucial that you know the deadlines that all teachers are supposed to be evaluated by.

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Know Your District's Policies on Teacher Evaluations

In addition to state policies, it is essential to understand your district's policies and procedures when it comes to teacher evaluation. Though many states restrict the evaluation instrument that you can use, some do not. In states where there are no restrictions, districts may require you to use a specific instrument while others may allow you to construct your own. Additionally, districts may have specific components that they want to be included in the evaluation that the state may not require.

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Be Sure Your Teachers Understand All Expectations and Procedures

Every teacher should be aware of the teacher evaluation procedures in your district. It is beneficial to give your teachers this information and to document that you have done so. The best way to do this is to conduct a teacher evaluation training workshop at the beginning of each year. Should you ever need to dismiss a teacher, you want to cover yourself in making sure that all the district’s expectations were provided to them in advance. There should not be any hidden elements for the teachers. They should be given access to what you are looking for, the instrument used, and any other pertinent information dealing with the evaluation process.

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Schedule Pre and Post Evaluation Conferences

A pre-evaluation conference allows you to sit down with the teacher you are observing before the observation to lay out your expectations and procedures in a one-on-one environment. It is recommended that you give the teacher an evaluation questionnaire prior to the pre-evaluation conference. This will give you more information about their classroom and what you can expect to see prior to evaluating them.

A post-evaluation conference sets aside time for you to go over the evaluation with the teacher, giving them any feedback and suggestions, and answering any questions they might have. Do not be afraid to go back and adjust an evaluation based on the post-evaluation conference. There is no way you can ever see everything in a single classroom observation. 

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Understand the Teacher Evaluation Instrument

Some districts and states have specific evaluation instrument that evaluators are required to use. If this is the case, get to know the instrument thoroughly.  Have a great understanding of how to use it before stepping into a classroom. Review it often and make sure you adhere to the guidelines and intent of the instrument itself.

Some districts and states allow flexibility in the evaluation instrument. If you have the opportunity to design your own instrument, then make sure you always have it board approved before using it. Just like any good tool, reevaluate it from time to time. Don't be afraid to update it. Make sure it always meets state and district expectations, but add your own twist to it.

If you are in a district where they have a specific instrument you have to use, and you feel like there is a change that could improve it, then approach your superintendent and see if it may be possible to make those changes.

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Do Not Be Afraid of Constructive Criticism

There are many administrators that go into an evaluation with no intent of marking anything other than good or excellent. There is not a teacher who exists that cannot improve in some area. Offering some constructive criticism or challenging the teacher will only improve that teacher’s ability and students in that classroom are the ones who will benefit.

Try to pick out one area during each evaluation that you believe is most important for the teacher to improve. Do not downgrade the teacher if they are deemed effective in that area, but challenge them because you see room for improvement. Most teachers will work hard to improve an area that may be seen as a weakness. During the evaluation, if you see a teacher who has substantial deficiencies, then it may be necessary to put them on a plan of improvement to immediately help them begin to improve upon those deficiencies.

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Mix It Up

The evaluation process can become boring and monotonous for veteran administrators when they are re-evaluating effective, veteran teachers. To keep this from happening, make sure you mix it up from time to time. When evaluating a veteran teacher try not focus on the same thing during every evaluation. Instead, evaluate different subjects, at different times of day, or focus on a particular part of teaching such as how they move around the classroom or what students they call on the answer questions. Mixing it up can keep the teacher evaluation process fresh and relevant.