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Let Teachers Lead, and Other Ideas for Making Evaluations More Useful

After a performance evaluation, many teachers are simply handed a rubric with their scores, given a brief explanation for each one, and asked if they have questions, according to the Southern Regional Educational Board, a 16-state coalition that works to advance public education. 

While that may comply with state regulations, it's not necessarily going to lead to better teaching.

In a new brief, the SREB offers strategies for improving how administrators provide feedback on teachers' performance. Among them: letting teachers lead the debriefing sessions after evaluations.

The below chart shows some ways administrators' and teachers' roles could continue to change during those debriefing sessions. 

SREB 2.jpg

The teacher-led sessions should focus on not just pointing out areas for improvement, but also helping teachers find resources for making the changes, according to SREB.

However, this could prove difficult, the SREB brief says, for several reasons: Principals may not have the content knowledge to help teachers effectively, they may be uncomfortable providing feedback directly, and they may lack time to customize their recommendations for each teacher. Teachers may also struggle with leading the meetings. 

The amount of time that evaluations take is a very real challenge for administrators, as I wrote recently. Principals continue to rate nearly all teachers as "effective," studies show, in part because they lack time to sufficiently document poor performance.

Asking principals to give teachers resources for improving their performance on top of that would certainly be a further drain on time. The brief recommends principals get help from instructional coaches and content specialists in finding resources.

School leaders should also give teachers opportunities for providing feedback to one another, SREB says. "Walkthroughs, peer observations, instructional coaching, or professional learning communities," which districts may already be using, can be good chances for that. 

And school leaders should link teachers' individual goals to schools' collective goals, it says. Using a common language and shared protocols can keep everyone focused on student learning. 

Head here for the full brief: "Feedback on Teaching: A Fresh Look"

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