If you’re an educator (or any professional, really) you probably have had your fair share of evaluations. I’m not sure how it works for you, but for me, it always starts with the same thing: please let me know a time of the day in the next couple of weeks that would be suit your schedule for me to drop by. Shivers, right?
I actually let my supervisor decide when she comes by. I have a few reasons why.
- It takes the pressure off of me. I always ended up kicking myself in saying, “Gosh, little red, if only you didn’t invite her to come this day. You’ve screwed it all up for yourself!” We like to blame ourselves and overreact (even if everything is going great.) Now, I usually send a screenshot of google sheets showing my upcoming calendar and have her choose. When the day arrives, I feel that I can relax a bit more and not beat myself up for inviting this into my day!
- It provides an evaluation element right off the bat. It’s not a secret that anyone getting observed goes above and beyond to show their best self during that time period. Instead of me saying to my supervisor “this is the one period in the next two weeks I can guarantee you something worth watching,” it shows right off the bat that I feel I’m doing something worthwhile everyday, and it instills confidence in her that I’m prepared and professional.
- It allows me to be more task oriented. I don’t know about you, but when I start with a blank slate, I sometimes feel overwhelmed. If I already have my general plans laid out, but I know that she might want to assess something in particular, I can write down tasks that I need to show her and get to work. I feel that I work much better at editing/polishing current lesson plans as opposed to feeling the heat and pressure of having a blank slate.
Ironically enough, I am currently starting to take a course all about supervision and evaluation. While I feel like I am beginning to master being on the receiving end of evaluation, it’s an interesting perspective to now be in the learning stage of performing those evaluations myself. Of great interest in Kim Marshall’s Rethinking Teacher Supervision and Evaluation (2013), the author compares evaluations in schools to evaluations by the public health department.
Are the Health Department’s visits scheduled in advance? Of course not. The only way the public can trust the letter grades is for the inspections to be unannounced. This way, restaurants have a powerful incentive to be meticulous about cleanliness all the time, not just when the inspector is coming in. It’s not surprising that since this policy was introduced in 2010, the rate of food-borne illnesses among the city’s restaurant-goers has declined significantly, and more and more restaurants are earning an A…we need teachers to know that what they do with students on a daily basis is what really matters, that the principal will be dropping in unannounced on a regular basis, and that A-game performance every day is a core professional responsibility.(Marshall 32).
Well, when you think about it that way, it doesn’t sound so bad. In fact, most of the time, due to contracts, supervisors can only observe so many times throughout a school year. After reading that quote, on the contrary, it almost makes me wish they dropped in unannounced more often! Regardless, I like letting my supervisor decide when she comes by.