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For most teachers, the phrase ‘teacher evaluation’ will immediately induce feelings of stress and panic.

Feeling like your teaching is being judged or that you will be deemed a bad teacher can make a teacher feel uncomfortable in their classroom and affect their performance during evaluation.

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What to do for an upcoming teacher evaluation

It is important to remember that teacher evaluations are not tests designed to penalize you. Rather, they are a tool to help you grow as a teacher.

From my experience as a teacher, I have summarized important information to consider when you have an upcoming teacher evaluation.

Be prepared

It would be best if you were given notice before your teacher evaluation. This could be a specific date and time or a two-week window during the evaluation. If you do not have a set date, ensure all the lessons you plan in the given time frame best represent your teaching.

Understand how you will be assessed

Just as you teach your students to follow specific criteria, your teaching will be analyzed for specific features. For example, teachers in Texas may be evaluated by T-TESS, who base their evaluations on four areas, planning, instruction, learning environment, professional practices, and responsibilities.

Each of these categories will have different subcategories, and by familiarizing yourself with these criteria, you can ensure your lessons and teaching meets the requirements.

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice

Your colleagues and peers want to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask about their past experiences with being evaluated and see if they have any advice. For a more formal discussion about your evaluation, ask your teaching mentor to have a sit-down or short meeting with you. They will have most likely witnessed your teaching before and be able to offer you any advice on areas you need to approve.

Make the most of your pre-conference

Before your evaluation, you should have a pre-conference with whoever is evaluating you. This could be your vice principal, for example. Ensure you make the most of this time by asking for clarification on anything you feel uncertain about. Your evaluator should break down the performance ratings you may receive and inform you what is considered average and where you are expected to fall on the ratings. Questions to ask yourself while preparing for your evaluation:

  • How can I bring the best out of my students in a lesson?
  • What are my strengths as a teacher, and how can I showcase this?
  • How will the lesson contribute to the students learning module?
  • Is your classroom decorated how you like it?
  • Are your students seated in the best way?

Top tips

Before your evaluation, test drives your lesson. This does not mean you repeat the same lesson twice. Rather, test a lesson structure with a similar topic and see how your students respond to it. Remember, your evaluator wants to see you on an average day, so your lesson plans should be similar to what you usually produce for your students.

During the evaluation, don’t panic! Just stay calm and treat the evaluation as if it were a normal lesson. Teach as you feel comfortable and free to move around your classroom and engage with your students; don’t feel you have to stand rigidly at the front of your class. Above all, have confidence in yourself as a teacher, as no matter what the outcome of your evaluation is, the experience will help you grow and improve.