Posts Tagged ‘Teacher Evaluations’

Tips for Surviving Your Teacher Evaluation

November 29, 2015


We all hate being appraised, but it has become a requirement so we might as well adjust to it. I hope this list helps:


  1. Come prepared – Prepare for everything that could happen, from defending criticisms to bringing typed lists and evidence of your achievements.
  2. Look Those Assessing You in the Eye – Project confidence at all times.
  3. Listen – Don’t argue whilst being criticised, it never works. Simply listen, take notes and have your say later. Let them feel “talked out” before you respond.
  4. Have goals – Show that you reflect, are thinking ahead and prove to them that you have ambition and inner drive
  5. Don’t Just Defend – Come in with something you want from them. Something like better condition, pay or responsibility.


Good Luck!


Click on the link to read Tips for Surviving a Teacher Observation

Click on the link to read The Call to Have Students Rate Their Teachers is Better than it Sounds

Click on the link to read First Work Out What a Quality Teacher is, Then Evaluate

Click on the link to read 7 Tips for Building a Better School Day


Tips for Surviving a Teacher Observation

December 1, 2014



Nobody loves being “observed” whilst they are going about their job. Here are some helpful tips courtesy of


As you stand in front of your appraising tutor at your first PGCE observation, you’ll no doubt be feeling anxious. But remember; they’ll have seen hundreds of these lessons and witnessed every type of disaster – which means they’ll rarely be surprised or shocked.

Unlike Ofsted, which makes summative judgements, your tutor is looking for good work to build on.

Graham Birrell, senior education lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University, and co-author of Succeeding on your Primary PGCE, says the assessments made by your tutors, mentors and class teachers are formative. “The most important thing to go in with is a positive mindset.”

Joanna Sarri, a newly-qualified teacher, agrees: “Tutors are there to help – not criticise. Everything, including making a mistake, is just a learning point.”

The next thing to consider is the content of the lesson. “Avoid an all-singing, all-dancing lesson – this isn’t a reflection of where you really are as a teacher,” advises Sarri. The technology is bound to fail on the day anyway.

Birrell’s advice is to “think of a small thing to do, and then make it a bit smaller”. Don’t avoid risk altogether – just confine that ambition to choosing an edgy or original lesson topic.

Some basic rules also apply. Don’t start an entirely new subject, and have resources and spare copies of your lesson plan ready – which you should also share with your support staff.

Birrell advises against setting lesson objectives that are too vast; students won’t be able to understand the causes of the second world war in 45 minutes.

A common mistake made by new teachers, according to Birrell, is to plan a lesson aimed at keeping the kids busy. They might all be engaged, but if you can’t identify the learning taking place, the tutor will notice.

Rhiannon Rees, also a newly-qualified teacher, recalls a maths lesson in which physical activities and a hot classroom threw her plans into disarray.

“Although I’d sought advice from colleagues and double checked everything, my timing was hopeless and there wasn’t an easy way to pull things back,” she says. “The children were having a great time – if only we’d had another hour.”

Of course, the occasional sweaty disaster will occur. “Be prepared to abandon your plan if necessary,” advises Sarri. “You’ll impress more by being flexible and spontaneous than by sticking to it.”

Then you’ll be able to show that you know what went wrong – demonstrating that you’re on the road to becoming a self-reflective professional.

We can’t pretend that receiving feedback is always fun. Sometimes class teachers lack the ability to make supportive and productive comments to fellow adults. “They can speak to trainees in a way they’d never dare to talk to children,” says Sarri.

Birrell suggests one reason for this potential source of conflict with class teachers. As part of a target-driven system, they’re often anxious about handing over their responsibilities to a trainee, fearful that children will fall behind academically in the hands of a novice.

Be honest and non-defensive when you hear something tough from an observer. “There’s probably a reason, and in your next observation, you get a chance to prove you can change,” says Birrell.

Rees recommends a gracious smile and taking on board the advice you get.

Observations also remind you of what you’re doing well, says Sarri. Training provides an opportunity to explore your personal teaching style – before you’re subsumed into a school with its own version of “what works”.

Remember that, ultimately, it’s the children who count. You may think you’ve aced an observation or crashed out in the first five minutes. But going forward you’ll be learning from the children – the sharpest tools in the box.


Click on the link to read The Call to Have Students Rate Their Teachers is Better than it Sounds

Click on the link to read First Work Out What a Quality Teacher is, Then Evaluate

Click on the link to read 7 Tips for Building a Better School Day

Click on the link to read Tips for Catering for the Visual Learner

The Call to Have Students Rate Their Teachers is Better than it Sounds

October 4, 2013


Students grading their teacher on the quality of their lessons? What will they think of next? Surely that is merely asking for trouble. It puts the teacher in an impossible position where they may feel they have to pander to their students and disregard blatant misbehaviour in order to keep them on side lest they be graded poorly.

Then I actually read the article in its entirety and realised that what is being called for is actually very exciting and empowering for students. Instead of what the article first made us believe, students don’t grade the teacher on each individual lesson, but rather fill out a general questionnaire, giving them the opportunity to give the kind of feedback many feel stifled from giving:

Richard Cairns, Head Master of Brighton College is calling on the Government to make it compulsory for students to play a part in assessing the performance of teachers.

The move would help school leaders deal with under-performance in the classroom, he suggested.

In a speech to the Headmasters and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) annual meeting today, Mr Cairns will say that he has introduced such a system at his own school.

Pupils at Brighton College are asked to fill in an online questionnaire about each of their teachers.

The form includes 22 statements or questions such as “my teacher sets clear expectations for my studies and the quality of my work”, “my teacher caters for my learning style and my ability level” and “my teacher is passionate about his subject”.

Students are asked to give a grade for each statement or question ranging from one, which is positive, to five, which is negative. They can also add their own comments.

It is thought to be the first time that students have been asked to help appraise their teachers in this systematic way.

The findings are collected and used as part of a teacher’s appraisal, Mr Cairns says.

He will tell the conference: “It is used as the basis for discussions in appraisal meetings – either to praise good practice, or inform the setting of targets.”

Ahead of today’s meeting, Mr Cairns said: “All good heads know what the ‘word on the street’ is regarding good or bad teachers but we have no objective evidence except those that arise from lesson observations and exam results.”

Lesson observation is a “seriously flawed approach”, Mr Cairns argued, while exams results can say more about the culture of a school than how effective an individual teacher is.

Pupil appraisals are the only objective way of both praising good teachers and being able to have serious conversations with those that are not doing well, he suggested.

Mr Cairns said he is calling on the Government to make such a system compulsory in all schools “in order to help Heads deal quickly with underperforming teachers and also to provide positive, objective feedback for the best teachers which will aid retention and maintain enthusiasm”.

He added: “We have put a lot of money into school inspection and we are very concerned about standards in schools but the key consumers – the pupils – are not consulted. That strikes me as crazy.

“We’ve got to get over this issue that young people might abuse such a system.

“Every good teacher I know trusts the pupils that they teach to act responsibly.”

Mr Cairns said a similar system has been introduced at the London Academy of Excellence – a new state- funded sixth form in east London – which is co-sponsored by Brighton College.

Click on the link to read First Work Out What a Quality Teacher is, Then Evaluate

Click on the link to read 7 Tips for Building a Better School Day

Click on the link to read Tips for Catering for the Visual Learner

Click on the link to read Student Rant Goes Viral

Click on the link to read Could This be the Most Violent High School Test Question Ever?

Click on the link to read Six Valuable Steps to Making Positive Changes in Your Teaching

First Work Out What a Quality Teacher is, Then Evaluate

November 16, 2011

Tim Day of the New Teacher Project is spot on.  How can you evaluate teachers when you haven’t properly defined what a good teacher is?

“Everyone around teachers has failed them – the colleges, the administrators and the foundations,” said Tim Day of the New Teacher Project, offering what was likely the second-most provocative comment of my recent conference.

The group believes that teacher quality is key to student success, but districts treat all teachers the same – as interchangeable parts, rather than as professionals.

The problem is that it is difficult for principals to know exactly what happens when classroom doors close, and all the panelists seem to believe that what’s considered the easiest way to measure student growth – test scores – should be only one part of an evaluation.

In my view teachers should be evaluated, but one needs to know what they are looking for in a teacher so they can properly evaluate against it. Similarly, since teachers aren’t the only element in a functioning education system, other areas need to be evaluated.  Principals, administrators, schools (ie, school culture) and even those politicians entrusted with funding the schools should undergo evaluations too.

Leaving the teacher alone in the dark is not going to achieve anything.  Education is a team effort and currently the team is letting the teachers down.

Addressing Teacher Burnout

November 4, 2011

Teacher burnout is a significant problem that strike even the very best of teachers.  Even the most passionate and dedicated of teachers struggle to see out a term out without getting sick or feeling extremely fatigued.

The question is, how do we address this problem?

Research shows the teaching profession has the highest burnout rate of any public service job. What can we do to keep the best and the brightest teachers in the classroom?

In April, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the American Institutes for Research (AIR) released the report, “Workplaces That Support High-Performing Teaching and Learning: Insights From Generation Y Teachers.”Gen Y teachers—that is, those under 30 years of age—account for at least one in five teachers in US classrooms today. They start out intending to make teaching a lifelong profession. However, according to the report, young teachers leave the profession at a rate 51 percent higher than older teachers and transfer to a different school at a rate 91 percent higher than their older colleagues. Studies also show that the national teacher-turnover rate costs school districts approximately $7 billion annually.

In the AFT/AIR report, young teachers say they want:

  • Feedback on their performance and to be evaluated in a fair way
  • Time to collaborate with their colleagues
  • Differentiated pay for high performance
  • Technology to provide engaging and effective lessons, as well as to support collaboration with other teachers through, for instance, videos and conferencing technology.

I agree with every point, but have a problem with the third one.  Whilst I believe Governments should look into a differentiated model of pay for high performers, I don’t believe such an initiative would have any bearing on cases of teacher burnout.

The list of proposed changes by young teachers above is most fair and reasonable.  If responded to, the outcomes could be quite positive all around.  It’s certainly time to better address teacher burnout.  It’s an issue that cannot be dismissed and will not go away.

The Teacher Blame Game Isn’t Fair

October 28, 2011

It seems to be more fashionable than ever to knock teachers.  Teachers are being dubbed as lazy and inept.

In truth it is easy to criticise teachers but very hard to be one.

We need more articles like this one by Patricia McGuire to defend teachers and set the record straight.

Yes, teachers should certainly be held accountable for excellence in teaching and for measurable results in the progress their students make each day. Teachers are on the front line of student learning assessment, since they really do know better than anyone else what makes a child successful or lackadaisical, engaged or detached in class. Standardized tests rarely measure the real progress that teachers make with some of the most challenging pupils whose learning styles are far off the normed curves.

The current fashion in education reform treats teachers as lazy slugs who care little about whether their students are learning anything. The assumption behind using standardized testing for teacher evaluation is that the only way to make teachers care about learning is to embarrass them publicly when their students do not perform according to someone else’s idea of norms. This assumption is what is truly preposterous!

For teachers who choose to devote their life’s work to some of the most difficult classrooms in America, such as here in the District of Columbia, the testing imperative becomes a monumental disincentive to stay in the classroom for any length of time, since the opportunities for sustained superior results on standardized tests are rare, while the risks of frequent subpar results are very high. It’s no secret that the widely-hailed Teach for America program has ingrained two-year turnover in its teaching corps. TFA teachers rarely stay to wrestle through the down years, which are frequent among students in marginalized communities.

Governments are so busy trying to find a negatively geared incentive for teachers and a scale that compares their effectiveness that they have lost sight of the most important pieces of the Education reform puzzle:

1.  Revolutionise teacher training programs to focus on the practical instead of the theoretical.

2. Have measures in place that allow all teachers (especially new teachers) the support they need.

3.  Spend more time critiquing schools with questionable cultures of bullying and harrasment.  Give these school’s the support they need to better handle their affairs.

Teacher Evaluations Are Doomed to Fail

October 22, 2011

Notionally, I have no problem with being evaluated.  I suppose it is a good way for me to get objective advice from an impartial other.  This could then potentially have a positive effect on my future teaching.

But I have been evaluated before.  All Australian student-teachers are put through a series of evaluations before qualifying for their teaching degrees.  My evaluations proved a heart-rendering, confidence sapping, irritating, period of despair.  The feedback I got was that “the students liked me too much”, that they “behaved for me rather than because of me”, that I “teach too much like a male teacher” (what does that even mean?) and that I “need to be more emotionally distant” ….

One of the main reasons that I decided to become a teacher was so that I could offer my students an alternative from the garbage I got dished up when I was a child.  The sad thing is, if I get evaluated, there is a great chance it will be by the very type of educator I am trying not to be.

Bill and Melinda Gates touch on it in their brilliant piece in The Wall Street Journal:

It may surprise you—it was certainly surprising to us—but the field of education doesn’t know very much at all about effective teaching. We have all known terrific teachers. You watch them at work for 10 minutes and you can tell how thoroughly they’ve mastered the craft. But nobody has been able to identify what, precisely, makes them so outstanding.

This ignorance has serious ramifications. We can’t give teachers the right kind of support because there’s no way to distinguish the right kind from the wrong kind. We can’t evaluate teaching because we are not consistent in what we’re looking for. We can’t spread best practices because we can’t capture them in the first place.

Our Education System is so flawed at the moment that I am not sure effective teaching can be properly measured.  There are plenty of teachers like me (most are far better) that want to buck the trend because we want something different for our students. We want to try new things, we want to engage our students, and against the advice of some we do not want to practice ’emotional distance’ from our students.  If we were evaluated we may be judged poorly, but our students love our classes and their parents are satisfied with our performance and that should be all that matters.

And why just evaluate the teachers?  Who is evaluating the Principals?  What about the school culture?

It’s like evaluating the pasta in a pasta dish.  Sure the pasta is the most important ingredient, but if the sauce and other ingredients tastes bad, no matter how good the quality of pasta is, the dish will be a failure.

Until we have a better measure for judging good teaching and until we evaluate all stakeholders and elements of education together, the results will be tainted and ‘unique’ teachers will be forced to follow the herd.

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