|Just because, here's a funny joke by my favorite TV character about my favorite artist.
Our evaluation addresses five areas - Planning, Instructional Delivery, Assessment, Learning Environment, and Professionalism/Communication - with two subcategories each. The rubric for these categories was four-part - Exemplary, Proficient, Needs Improvement, and Ineffective. Most of the teacher concerns were regarding the differences between Exemplary and Proficient, because the rubric wasn't extremely clear about that, and also a difference of interpretation of the rubric between administration and teachers. After spending the majority of our time together translating the rubric into "teacher talk," our interpretations and concerns were shared with our superintendents and will be passed on to our administrators, and hopefully the lines of communication will be improved this year.
The biggest points I took from this experience can be important for any teacher anywhere - with the most important being... ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF! Don't be afraid to toot your own horn. Keep a record of all the things you do that you feel are "above and beyond," or a list of new things you are trying out and challenging yourself with, and present it to your administrator well before the process ends for the year. Another point is to SHARE YOUR STRENGTHS with other professionals. The easiest way to jump from Proficient to Exemplary is to lead others on a regular basis, and it doesn't have to be a scary, whole-school presentation. Offer a workshop to your team members on a skill you've mastered, or just lead a group while you tackle a challenge together. Don't forget to share these leadership efforts and your results with your administrator! I must add that hearing so many stories of teachers who felt they couldn't share with their admin made me really grateful for the open-door policy at my school and the way my principal encouraged me to share my accomplishments with her throughout the year.
Specifically for special area teachers, we had a concern about being evaluated the same way classroom teachers were, when there are so many differences in what we do every day - at my school, we felt that our evaluation should be differentiated in order to really show off the things we do that are, you know, "special." We differentiate for hundreds and hundreds of students, and we too want our uniqueness to be showcased. Although we didn't discuss this idea in depth, it was a topic that was brought up and again, it is important for us to showcase ourselves to our evaluators.
There will be more discussion in the fall regarding the future of teacher compensation, with an emphasis on creating more leadership opportunities (with pay increase) for teachers who don't want to leave the classroom (like me!) - I will be very interested to hear what opportunities may be in our future. Thanks for reading and here's to a wonderful new year for all of us.