Looking for helpful teacher evaluation ideas? This post discusses what to do before, during, and after your first observation.
Ms. Sneed Needs Some Teacher Evaluation Ideas
Early one spring morning, our favorite fourth grade teacher sat at the side table with her mentor.
“Today,” said Mrs. Washington, “I’ll give you some teacher evaluation ideas for next year.”
“Next year?” Ms. Sneed said. “Isn’t it a little early?”
Mrs. Washington smiled. “It’s never too early to start thinking about your next evaluation. Last year, I did a presentation on this topic, and I want to share it with you today.
What to Do Before Your Observation – Hit the Road Running
The mentor opened her laptop and pulled up the first slide. “These teacher evaluation ideas,” said Mrs. Washington, “start well before your first observation.”
Know Your Standards
“First,” she continued, “you must know your standards. As we discussed before, you should download them, print them, and keep them nearby at all times.
“Use checklists to note when you’ve introduced and reinforced each standard.
“Furthermore, you should deconstruct each standard – at least mentally – so you know what each is asking.”
“Wait,” Ms. Sneed interrupted. “This is a teacher evaluation idea? It sounds more like good teaching practices.”
“Aha,” said her mentor. “You’re already catching on. Good teaching ensures a good evaluation.”
At that, Ms. Sneed nodded slightly. That made sense.
Know Your Student Assessment Expectations
“Second, know what students must know and do for end-of-year standardized testing. Since test results are part of your teacher evaluation, it’s a good idea to know exactly what you’re getting into.
“You can find documents that break down percentages of questions on each standard, as well as the types of questions that will be asked.”
“Wait,” Ms. Sneed said again. “Isn’t that teaching to the test?”
Mrs. Washington’s eyes twinkled. “In my humble opinion, that’s an outdated notion. Today, the standards tell us what kids must know and be able to do. Then the standardized tests ask them to do it. If you think about it, you’re really teaching to the standards.”
Ms. Sneed sighed softly. That made sense too.
Know What’s Expected for Your Teacher Evaluation
“Third, you need to study expectations for your teaching. That way, you can gather teacher evaluation ideas that match our local documents. Print those out too. Then refer to them as you prepare.”
Match Assessments with Standards
Mrs. Washington squirmed in her seat. “Now let’s spend a little time talking about backward design. You know, the teacher first matches assessments with standards. But don’t worry! If the tests provided by your textbook match, you don’t need to create your own. Additionally, your colleagues may share theirs. But in any case, your summative assessments must address your standards.”
Select or Create Student Activities
She pointed to the slide. “Next up, selecting and/or creating student activities that support the unit tests. In my opinion, this is the fun part.”
Ms. Sneed looked a little puzzled. “Are you saying that I need all of my unit assessments and activities in place before my first observation?”
“No, not at all. However, even new teachers should have one unit mapped out. This provides evidence of their ability to create more like it.”
Again, Ms. Sneed nodded.
Differentiate (This is a must-do teacher evaluation idea.)
“For that unit – and all others,” Mrs. Washington continued, “you absolutely, positively must differentiate instruction.”
At that, Ms. Sneed made a face. “I always mean to differentiate. But it sometimes slips away from me.”
“I get that. We already have enough on our plates. With that said, I want you to promise that you’ll include differentiation in your sample unit, as well as the lessons you use for your long observations.”
“Okay, I promise.”
“And then, you’ll remember to differentiate every unit you work on after that.”
Ms. Sneed rolled her eyes but smiled. “I promise.”
Revise When Necessary
“Lastly,” said Mrs. Washington, “revise when necessary. This teacher evaluation idea helps when educators get too rigid. If students are struggling, ditch your plans and try something else. There’s no need to continue down a failing path.”
What to Do During Your Observation – A Bicycle Analogy
Now Mrs. Washington stretched. Then she clicked to the next slide.
“For your first – and every – long observation, you can use a bicycle analogy. Think about teaching a child to ride a bike. Those steps will lead you down the right path.”
State the Objective
“Before you begin,” the mentor said, “always state the objective. It’s as easy as saying, ‘Today, we’ll learn about…’ Consider the bicycle analogy. You wouldn’t just pull a child out of bed, take him outside, and put him on the bike. No, instead, you’d explain that you’ll teach them how to ride.”
“What about displaying the standard?” Ms. Sneed asked.
“Although it can be a pain, I believe this is a good idea. In my class, the kids don’t really look at the standards documents. But when the principal comes in, it’s a different story. Let’s say your administrator plans a short walk-through of your classroom. In all likelihood, they’ll enter in the middle of the lesson with no idea what you’re discussing. If you display the standard, they’ll understand your lesson better. Furthermore, most teacher evaluation rubrics include something about displaying the standard.”
“How do you display it?”
“Recently, I typed each standard on a PowerPoint slide. Each day, I project one page as I teach. If you don’t want to type them yourself, you can always find them online.”
Ms. Sneed made a mental note to get this done. It was definitely something she could do over the summer.
Use Direct Instruction and Modeling
“Now let’s talk about the lesson you’ll teach for your long observation. In my opinion, a traditional learning cycle is better. Sure, cooperative learning and inquiry get kids thinking. But on the day of your evaluation, the administrator is there for one reason: to see you teach.
“Like teaching a kid to ride a bicycle, you must explain strategies for success – then model them by doing it yourself.”
“Choose a lesson that lets you teach through direct instruction and model a process. Don’t pick anything too broad. For example, you could teach how to use context clues to find word meaning. Don’t attempt to teach word parts, synonyms, and words set off by parentheses.”
“So in other words, I need to limit the lesson to something specific, teach it, and model it.”
Mrs. Washington nodded.
Provide Guided Practice
“Additionally, you should include guided practice. Provide a short activity that lets them practice the new skill with your support. You know, it’s like holding onto the back of the child’s bicycle seat and running along side them.”
Let Kids Work Together
The mentor pointed to #4 on the list. “This is a great place to work in a little collaboration. As you provide less support, let them try a few together. Maybe like a think-pair-share, or a help group at the side table. Learning is social! Furthermore, it will get you more points on your teacher evaluation.”
Use Formative Assessment
“Next, use formative assessment to take the pulse of the class. Here, you find who’s got it and who doesn’t.”
“This is a lot,” Ms. Sneed said. “Isn’t it too much to fit in for the observation?”
“Actually, everything we’ve talked about so far should happen quickly. Five to ten minutes for instruction and modeling, five to ten for guided practice, and five to ten for collaboration. That’s less than half of your long observation. The formative assessment should be even shorter. Maybe you’ll use a brief exit ticket – or just ask for thumbs-up or thumbs-down when posing a question.”
Provide Independent Practice
Mrs. Washington sat back with a satisfied sigh. “And to be honest, that’s it! At this point, your students should be ready to go it alone. Consider a new bike rider who just needs a little independent practice.
“You’ll give the assignment, and kids will get to work. This will give you time to work with a small group and/or clarify the lesson to the administrator.”
Differentiate (Again, this teacher evaluation idea is non-negotiable.)
Ms. Sneed looked at the list. “But we haven’t talked about the last two.”
“Ah,” her mentor responded. “While these are not steps in the learning cycle for a single lesson, these things must be included.
“As we discussed before, you must differentiate. Since it’s just a single lesson, you’ll have time to plan it carefully. If you’re teaching a reading lesson, you can differentiate the content with leveled passages. In math, you might alter the process. For example, some kids may need to use manipulatives. Of course, you can always offer choice for the product – something other than a worksheet. As a matter of fact, a choice board would be fun!”
The mentee relaxed noticeably. “Put this way, it sounds so easy. You’re putting my mind to rest.”
Include HOTS: Higher Order Thinking Skills
“So you won’t mind if I pile on one more thing. Your lesson should also include higher order thinking. Since we just discussed choice boards, let’s use that as the first example. If your choice board includes activities that ask kids to create, you’ve jumped to the highest level in Bloom’s taxonomy. That’s easy.
“If your lesson doesn’t work with a choice board, make sure kids at very least apply what they’ve learned. Analyzing and evaluating are even better.
“In addition to getting kids thinking, you need to demonstrate your ability to use HOTS. All of this, of course, will be in the lesson plan you submit for your teacher evaluation. Otherwise, the principal may not recognize your finesse.”
Both teachers giggled a little. Yes, Ms. Sneed understood the need to spell things out.
More Teacher Evaluation Ideas – Honk Your Own Horn
“Of course,” Mrs. Washington continued, “the principal will expect you to submit more evidence of your competence as a teacher. Of all teacher evaluation ideas, our colleagues fall down on this part. It’s time to honk your own horn.” With that, she moved to the final slide.
Teacher Evaluation Ideas – What to Submit
“Now we’ll talk about how to get the most points possible on your teacher evaluation. Of course, you can submit documents that the administrator requests. However, it’s a good idea to add ideas of your own.”
Lesson and Unit Plans
Mrs. Washington referred to the slide. “Obviously, you’ll need evidence of planning.”
“You should prepare a lesson plan for every observation. In it, you should spell out each step in the learning cycle: objective, direct instruction, modeling, guided practice, collaboration, and independent practice. Also, you should include differentiation and higher order thinking. With these documents, you prove your planning abilities. Furthermore, the principal can refer to them and see if they missed anything when you were observed.
“Additionally, you should submit one unit plan with evidence of backward design. For this, you can use published materials, but the plans should be your own.”
“So,” said Ms. Sneed, “I could use a math unit that includes pages from the book – and even the published assessment – so long as the plans explain how I will teach it?”
Mrs. Washington nodded.
Professional Development Records
“Remember when we talked about keeping track of your PD? In addition to using the list when you renew your license, you can use it as evidence for your teacher evaluation.”
“Hey, that’s a great idea,” said Ms. Sneed.
“Fortunately, you don’t need to submit all of your student data. However, you will also give the principal some sort of summary of how you analyzed it and used it to drive instruction. The format is up to you, but tables and graphs work well.”
Ms. Sneed grinned. “I already have that as a part of my data binder. Whew!”
“Here are a few more teacher evaluation ideas that you already have. First, include at least one of your weekly notes to parents.”
Ms. Sneed nodded.
“Second, parent communication logs. Did you organize those like we discussed?”
“Yep, I created a form for each child and stuck it in the private folder. Whenever I talk or message a parent, I add it to the log.”
“Great. For your teacher evaluation, I suggest including a copy of a log. Preferably, use one for a parent you’ve contacted a lot.”
Ms. Sneed looked at the last point on the list. “Pictures? What do you mean by that?”
“Throughout the year, use your phone to take pictures of student work, student collaboration, science labs, displays and bulletin boards, etc. Then take a look at the requirements for your teacher evaluation. If you need evidence for any domain, add a photo!”
“That’s an easy one,” said Ms. Sneed. “Now I just need to make it a habit.”
Improve Your Craft with Teacher Evaluation Ideas
The young teacher sat back in her chair. “As you presented these teacher evaluation ideas, I felt like my entire undergraduate education was flashing before my eyes. It all fits. If I work on this little by little, I can become a master teacher.”
“Yes,” said her mentor, “and that will allow you to enjoy teaching to its fullest.”