Artifacts & Evaluation

Being it my 6th year in the classroom, I guess you can say I’m used to the idea of being evaluated. In fact, I’m confident that evaluations have the potential to play a powerful and positive role in professional learning and the development of effective educators. Even having only been teaching for a handful of years, I’ve experienced three different evaluation tools. Despite this, one concern has remained constant for me: will my evaluator have enough evidence to deem me an effective teacher?

The thing is, I know I’m an effective teacher. I’m not saying I don’t have plenty of room to improve, but I worry that if my administrator is only performing evaluative observations two, maybe three times a year, what if there’s something they simply don’t catch? Will I have enough opportunity to show proficiency (or excellence) in all 37 indicators of teacher performance? Will I have to schedule additional observations and adjust my pacing/plans to ensure that a particular criterion is observable during the time that they visit?

Obviously, this concern is valid and relevant, therefore the option of submitting evidence or artifacts post-observation is one available to teachers. It can be difficult, however, to hone in on exactly what types of artifacts will accurately represent different criteria. Below are several examples of artifacts either suggested by the TPEP-WA website or examples of artifacts that I’ve submitted myself: (Note that my district uses the CEL’s 5D+ teacher evaluation rubric, however I listed aligned State 8 Criterion as well):

(WA State Criterion 7: Communicating and Collaborating with Parents and the School Community)

Class Dojo: This is just one of the several methods I use to communicate with parents, of course, but it (and any form of digital communication) is a great way to document and archive that communication. My administrator isn’t there when I’m discussing instructional goals, behavior, or helpful resources with parents, and I’m not going to flood their inbox by CC’ing them on every email I send. It’s nice to be able to take a screen-shot that shows an example of the regular one and two-way communication I have with parents to provide evidence of my effort to keep parents informed and be responsive towards their needs.

(WA State Criterion 6: Using multiple student data elements to modify instruction and improve student learning)

Exit tickets: Over the last few years I’ve worked on implementing exit tickets as a formative assessment tool for me, but also as a way to engage my students in their own learning process. When students are given the opportunity to reflect on their learning (and explicitly taught how to do this effectively), they have powerful information to use when setting goals as they move forward. After instruction, remind students of the learning target and success criteria, and ask your students to use that criteria to self-assess. I’ve had my students do this in numerous ways; post-it notes, quick surveys through an online tool, or on half-sheets with sentence stems that help my students hone in on their progress towards our learning target. These are all things that can be kept and submitted as artifacts if your evaluator was unable to catch the end of the lesson.

(WA State Criterion 3: Recognizing Individual Student Learning Needs and Developing Strategies to Address Those Needs)

Student Choice Surveys: Incorporating student choice is an effective way of promoting ownership of learning. As mentioned in the previous suggestion, technology provides us with a method of collecting student feedback and input in a way that is easily documented and archived, which can help as you decide on artifacts to submit. Below is an example of a quick survey I gave students as I designed groups for small group skill-focus.

One of the biggest ways to derail an observation experience is to deliver a lesson that isn’t authentic. I speak from experience when I say that trying to cram in too much or jigsaw together a lesson just to meet the exact indicators you have left on your rubric screams disingenuous… and can be a disaster. Instead, consider the concrete artifacts that have naturally been produced through the effective teaching and learning happening in your classroom, and don’t hesitate to bring them to the table.