It’s only my first week back with my new students and I have already managed to catch a cold. Sore throat, sniffles, and lots of coughing—what a way to start the new school year!
Aside from being under the weather, the year is in full swing with lots to do. Planning, scheduling of services and meetings, as well as getting to know my new students. Although my plate seems full already, I just received an e-mail this past weekend requesting my schedule for observations and teacher evaluations. Which leads me to open up the discussion about teacher evaluations and how they work in different districts and some of the challenges new teachers face during this process.
Since I am only entering into my second year I can only reflect on my first-year experience. Last year in my district, we had a total of five observations that were done at different times throughout the year. The observations were broken down in the following way: three from my principal and two from district master educators. The master educators are seasoned professionals in the field of a content area, in my case it’s special education. Each of the observations last for about 30 minutes and only one of them could be scheduled in the beginning of the year to be done with my principal.
This new school year none of our observations can be scheduled, among a list of other changes. I must admit it adds a lot of pressure of constantly being on top of everything at all times. As we all know from working in a school environment, no matter how well you plan, you are bound to have a day or so when things just don’t seem to go right. Trust me—I have been there and I am sure many of you have, too.
But, the biggest thing I learned from the evaluation process was utilizing the feedback provided from my observations to help me grow. I know at first this might be difficult to do especially if you have a rough observation or just feel completely bombarded with so much input and critiquing of how you are doing your job. But I guarantee approaching it with an open mind can lead you to further perfecting your craft as an educator.
I was so nervous during my very first observation that I fumbled a bit, but once I got over the extra set of eyes in my classroom and focused on my passion of just teaching my students, I managed to push right on through. So if you get a little nervous just remember why you are teaching and what you are doing it for and you will be just fine in the end.
My first observation was neither the best nor the worst, but it was the stepping stone in helping me improve. I used the feedback and resources to help me grow, and by the end of year I performed really well overall in my first year of evaluations. Please, know that in my district the observations are a good percentage of the how we are evaluated but we are also evaluated on for eligibility, IEP timeliness, and through a cumulative portfolio of data that shows growth or mastery on IEP goals and other student growth regarding the general education curriculum, as well as school community involvement.
I could talk so much more about teacher evaluations but I would like to hear from all of you readers about your experiences and how you utilized your feedback. I hope to come back and discuss this topic some more with you all.