Why You Should Revisit Your Teacher Evaluations
Many evaluation processes provide opportunities for evaluators and teachers to meet about observation results. But, few go so far as to co-construct evaluations.
What are co-constructed evaluations?
Co-constructed evaluations require significant, ongoing input from teachers. How this manifests varies according to the evaluation process, but such evaluations aren’t complete without significant involvement of both teacher and evaluator.
“Part of the job of being a teacher is to be on a career-long quest to improve practice [while] a critically important role of any evaluation system is to promote learning.”
– Charlotte Danielson
Why are they important?
“Part of the job of being a teacher,” affirms Charlotte Danielson, “is to be on a career-long quest to improve practice, [while] a critically important role of any evaluation system is to promote learning.” Without a process that sees teachers actively participating in their evaluations, the process may come across as one-sided and compliance-driven. Co-constructed evaluations, on the other hand, invite teachers into the process.
What do co-constructed evaluations look like?
Evaluations that promote professional learning share some common elements:
- All involved need to trust the evaluation instrument as well as the evaluator’s ability to observe practice accurately and fairly.
- Teachers should have the opportunity to assess their own practice.
- Any evaluation process must provide ample opportunity to reflect on practice as well as the process itself.
- Ongoing professional conversations help teachers and evaluators work together to identify strengths in practice, address growth areas and plan.
- Evaluation processes should involve communities of practice in authentic ways.
School systems don’t need to overhaul evaluation processes to incorporate these elements. Simply incorporating a few practices can pave the way for evaluators and teachers to co-construct evaluations.
After collecting evidence for an observation, for example, an evaluator might share that evidence with the teacher to make sure nothing important is missing from the teacher’s point of view. Then, after tagging the evidence to components of a rubric, the observer can invite the teacher to do the same before having a conversation about the lesson.
“The hope with this approach,” says Danielson, “is that [evaluators and teachers] can together co-construct the observation.”
Co-constructed evaluations and school culture
Students and educators alike function better in schools where trust and collaboration are valued and actively cultivated. Co-constructed evaluations are an important part of such a culture, but there are many other ways in which school and district leaders can work to establish trust and transparency. Leading to greater growth and trust, these efforts can bolster efforts to promote evaluations that lead to educator growth.