I walked into my first evaluation meeting five years ago eager and ready to learn. I didn’t know much about what to expect—my assistant principal had observed me a few weeks before, and I couldn’t wait to hear what she had to say about my classroom. I was desperate for feedback. She’d seen me working with my sixth graders on a tough skill—creating outlines for our expository papers. I figured she’d have a lot to share. After all, I was a first-year teacher, and I knew I had a ton of room to grow.
My first evaluation taught me little to nothing about my teaching, but I did learn a lot about who would be coaching me to further develop my practice at this school—I would.At the meeting, my AP laughed, gave me a pat on the back for making it that far into the school year, and to my honest-to-goodness surprise, signed off on a satisfactory rating! How could that be possible? I’d just started teaching. Research shows that I’m not alone in this experience of evaluation: just a few years ago, before the rollout of many states’ new evaluation tools, TNTP found that less than one percent of teachers received unsatisfactory ratings. And a national survey of teachers, conducted in 2012 by Teach Plus, found that nearly half of all teachers surveyed had either not had an evaluation in the past year, or had not found their evaluation feedback useful. Needless to say, my first evaluation taught me little to nothing about my teaching, but I did learn a lot about who would be coaching me to further develop my practice at this school—I would.
Several years later, at a different school with a much more rigorous evaluation system in place, I found myself walking into my first evaluation meeting, again, eager and ready to learn. My principal had already observed me at least ten times in short spurts over the course of the year, and I couldn’t wait to hear what she had to say about my classroom. I was desperate for feedback. After all, I was a fourth-year teacher, and I had a ton of room to grow.
From Learning from the Experts: Teacher Leaders on Solving America’s Education Challenges.