By Teachers, For Teachers
If you’re new to the teaching profession, you may have heard horror stories about first-year teachers getting bad evaluations from their supervisors. Although it may be scary walking into the unknown, many in the teaching profession have positive evaluation experiences. To help calm your fears, you can easily prepare for this review. Here is some of the best advice that you can get from experienced teachers who have been through it all.
The first thing that you must do is to make sure that you are well prepared. The scariest thing about an evaluation in the teaching profession is that you don’t know what to expect. You probably will have all of these preconceived notions in your head that are most likely inaccurate. Ask your colleagues what you can expect during your evaluation. Ask them what administration is looking for and how these meetings usually are conducted. Ask them how long the meeting lasts, what you need to bring, how you should dress, and how many people will be in the room. When you are prepared and know what to expect, it will help to calm your nerves. It will also give you the confidence to walk into the meeting and tackle anything that may come your way.
You must be OK with getting feedback. Keep in mind that your principal and administrators want to help you grow as a teacher, they aren’t there to give out bad reviews just for the sake of doing it. Remember that no one is a perfect teacher, especially if it’s your first year on the job. While constructive criticism may seem like the end of the world to you now, they are only suggestions to help you improve your craft as a teacher. Take it for all it’s worth, and use it to your advantage to help you grow as a teacher.
It’s OK to ask questions if you don’t know something. It’s not going to make you look incompetent. It will actually show that you care enough about your job to want to learn and grow. Remember, you’re a first-year teacher, and you don’t know everything just yet. Make a list of anything that you are unsure of before your teacher evaluation and ask your colleagues first, then leave the unanswered questions for your meeting. It’s OK to speak candidly, too. If you have a question about qualifications that can enhance your job or a specific strategy that you’d like to try, then go ahead and ask away.
Every teacher’s first experience will be different. Do not expect to know everything right out of the gate. An effective teacher is a reflective teacher, so take the information and feedback that you learned and use it to make any necessary changes. Be willing to take their advice and do what they suggest. They are giving it to you for your best interest. The more you learn about yourself and how you are as a teacher, the better you’ll become. Once you take their advice, invite your supervisors to come into your classroom and observe the changes you’ve made. The more you invite them into your classroom for a quick “Pop in,” the easier it will be on your nerves, because you’ll be used to them coming in.
The last thing that you want to worry about during a teacher evaluation is how your students are going to behave. If your teacher evaluation is where the principal observes you teach before you have a meeting with them, then your students will be in the classroom with you. You want your students to act naturally, but you also don’t want them to act out so the principal thinks you can’t handle your students. Let the children know how important this evaluation is to you. You’ll find that even your students are on your side: No one wants to see you fail.
While teacher evaluations can be very stressful, when you are prepared, it can dramatically reduce your anxiety. Remember, this is only your first one, and pretty soon you will have many more under your belt. Your principal wants you to succeed, so sit back, relax, and be yourself. You’re going to do just fine.
How was your first teacher evaluation experience? Did you have a good one?
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the elementary education expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.