School administrators are responsible for putting the best teachers in their classrooms who can lead students and support a positive, meaningful learning experience. When they hire new teachers they anticipate great performance, but they also conduct regular evaluations to follow up.
New teachers are not expected to be perfect. In fact, no teachers are. However, there is an expectation that all teachers reflect on their performances and implement continuous growth and improvement practices. At the end of the day, it’s about being committed to being the best they can be.
If you’re a non-tenured teacher, you likely have several formal observations each school year where you receive feedback from your evaluator. It’s important to receive it knowing it’s intended for your improvement. Administrators are teachers at heart who want to help you learn and grow. Their suggestions are designed to lead you and develop you, and there are things you can do to help your observations succeed.
When administrators return to your classroom after they’ve offered you feedback, they’re expecting to see improvement based on their suggestions. If you’re not making adequate progress in an area, you may hear them say things like, “In order to improve, you must…” This is clarity and an act of kindness. You are being told exactly what to do. Take courage and implement their advice.
If you’re being asked to improve:
Work with your school’s instructional coach. Share the feedback you’ve received and ask them to work with you. Let the coach read your observation reports and consider asking for a meeting with both the coach and evaluator.
Ask your principal for names of colleagues who are skilled in the areas you’re working to improve. You can arrange to either observe them or work with them.
Ask your evaluator to recommend books and articles. Read everything you can find on the topics that will support your improvement efforts.
Most importantly, keep a positive attitude and a growth mindset.
Your evaluator is invested in you and your success, and you’ve been told what you must do. If you’re working diligently, acknowledging the need and desire to improve and demonstrating positivity, your evaluator will likely be willing to work with you.
If you don’t, “in order to improve, you must…” can become “we’ve made the difficult decision not to renew your contract for next year.” It’s up to you to see evaluations as a growth opportunity. Hearing about areas you need to improve on is never easy but, remember, administrators want you to be the best you can be.
Explore more instructional best practices by enrolling in a fully online education program at American College of Education.