Tell Me About . . .
A Frustrating Evaluation Experience
A Little Input Here!
I was in my early days as a classroom teacher.
When it was time for my evaluation, my principal came into my classroom, walked around,
and chatted with a few students. He glanced
at my lesson plans, gave me a thumbs-up, and
walked out. Later, he placed in my mailbox
a series of questions for me to fill out: What
was my lesson focus? What were the expected
learning outcomes? How did I plan to extend
the lesson? What reflections did I have about
how the lesson could be improved? I dutifully
filled out the questionnaire. I included a rigorous
and honest self-reflection about the lesson and
turned it in to my principal.
About a week later, I received a copy of my
evaluation. My principal had taken my responses
to the questionnaire and placed them into his
evaluation form for my lesson. Even the suggestions for improvement came from me. I had only
been in the profession for two years. How could
I possibly evaluate my own teaching?
If I had been given the opportunity to have
colleagues join the observations, reflections, and
discussions of my lesson plans and subsequent
assessments, I am sure that I would have become
an excellent teacher right out of the starting
gate. Instead it took me 15 years, three changes
in grade levels, a master’s degree, and countless
professional development opportunities; and I’m
still working to improve. But most sobering for
me is the knowledge that it also took nearly 300
—Holly Ashley, reading specialist,
Rochester Memorial School,
Go Beyond Positive Words
I have a folder full of evaluation reports from
administrators with whom I have worked.
They include words of praise such as, “This
was a good lesson,” or “I really enjoyed this
class.” These comments were nice to hear and
I treasured them, but they didn’t provide information about what exactly I was doing well.
Especially in my early years of teaching, I
would have appreciated feedback on what strategies were effective and why. Instead of stopping
with a period, the comments could have been
more helpful if they had gone on: “This was a
good lesson because . . . .” Questions to help me
reflect on the lesson and suggestions of other
strategies or resources would also have been
helpful. Such informative feedback is important
for students, too, rather than the generic “Good
—Mary L. Bigelow, science teacher, retired,
No Opportunity to Improve
In my first year of teaching advanced placement
English, my supervising vice principal observed
my class. She conducted a pre-conference by
sending an e-mail listing things she wanted to
see, including evidence of written lesson plans.
On the day of my observation, I knew that some
elements of the lesson were less than perfect.
I was looking forward to discussing ways to
My post-conference happened a month later.
The vice principal pulled me from one of my
classes (leaving my coteacher in charge), and
we went into a supply closet. She gave me my
observation evaluation, which was glowing, and
asked me to sign it. There was no discussion
and no opportunity for me to learn. I knew
that this evaluation didn’t truly reflect what had
happened during the observation. However, I
couldn’t blame the vice principal; she had so
many other essential things to do that a truly
valuable evaluation process was not a top
secondary instructional resource teacher,
Charles County Public Schools, Maryland