Advice from Administrators: How to Prepare for Teacher Reviews

  (Updated May 11, 2022)
Clay Scarborough
Clay Scarborough
High school principal; M.A. in Education, principal certification
Wall with sign that reads principal's office

It is that wonderful time of year when everything goes under the microscope. Summative evaluations or teacher reviews, plans for next year, looking at data, surveys, and more. So, what do you, as a teacher, need to be prepared for your summative or year in review?

First, from a ten-year classroom teacher and a ten-year school administrator, let me say this: don’t sweat this too much. If you can show growth for your students and initiative to improve, there is a 90 percent chance all will go well.

How Did COVID Impact Teachers?

In the Classroom

In my corner of Texas, if there was any question as to whether or not students would have more success in the classroom or learning remotely, that was answered explicitly in my teachers’ minds.

Our data showed that students may have learned the basics, but the higher levels of success eluded them the more time they spent at home online learning. When everyone was brought back to the classroom, our teachers breathed a sigh of relief that they could reach their students much easier than before.

With that being said, the use of technology to teach students has increased as many were forced to use technology more to reach students. This has been a welcome change from before COVID and has become more the classroom operation.

Outside the Classroom

What I gather from others who work in parts of Texas and other parts of the country, what you do outside the classroom has gained increasing value, such as focusing on a family and work balance, mental health, and wellness. We hear more conversations now about time limits and stress relief, short vacations, or hours to leave work behind mentally.

As one principal I know put it, “We all went through a traumatic event where our daily events were turned on their head. Dealing with that and coming out of that is a challenge for everyone. Some lost family members or friends, some were isolated longer than they should have been, some had the normal routine of their lives shaken, and some simply had to deal with the uncertainty of the world around them.”

Time to take care of yourself and wellness has become more valued than ever before.

How to Prepare for Teacher Reviews

Let’s get ready to go in and talk to your supervisor. We are not necessarily going after a raise, but we want to be prepared for what could be thrown during teacher reviews.

Have Evidence

The teacher evaluation system in Texas is based on evidence. Evidence of what others have seen in your classroom and what you have done in your classroom can be from data that shows student growth through the year. An example of this could be student projects that demonstrate mastery.

I ask teachers, especially in the domain involving professional work (ethics and demeanor, goal setting, professional development, and community relations), to bring evidence to our meeting about this. Artifacts could include phone logs with parents, events, clubs, or organizations they sponsored or attended, professional development completed or is planned, and any professional goals they have met. It is a chance for them to show me what they have done in these categories.

We also allow evidence in instructional domains in my walkthroughs and 45-minute observation, although I can’t see it all. So, if a teacher wants to show me some projects or class-created rules that will help reach a higher part of the rubric, they are encouraged to do so.

This is a chance for the teacher to brag on themselves with evidence of what they have done through the year. Teachers, make sure this evidence connects to the rubric or standard you are being evaluated on. In our system, if your class created rules, you showed evidence that you addressed the social-emotional needs of the classroom, and you and the students collaborated positively to set standards.

Have a Professional Development Plan 

One of the main things principals love is when a professional tells you where they feel they need to grow. It shows a self-awareness that the person wants to grow and initiative. It is something I bring up in our summative conferences.

With our walkthroughs and observations, there is always something that I believe the teacher should work on. Most of the time, these coincide. Sometimes we choose one that I think they need to work on, and they choose one item from their list. Regardless, knowing where to grow is a huge hit.

Accept Feedback

Finally, be ready to hear something you might not agree with or something that surprises you in the yearly teacher reviews. It may not happen every time, but if you are being evaluated by a young administrator or one that you have not worked with before, there is a chance they may see something that someone has not in the past.

If this happens, take it in stride. We are human; we can only see much of what we do and can only be self-aware of so much. Another perspective from a relatively outside source could see a blind spot that has not been brought to your attention. Listen to the feedback and take it for what it is worth. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and see the evidence to help you better understand what you need to potentially work on.

In short, for your performance review or summative, if you come prepared with evidence that connects to your evaluation and are prepared to discuss where you want to grow, most of the time, these conversations will be good coaching conversations that prepare you for the following year.

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*Updated May 2022
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