Fair Methods of Teacher Evaluation

Teacher evaluation forms are a slippery slope. In our school, consisting of grades 10-12, an administrator comes in, usually unannounced, sits at the back of the room for 10-20 minutes, and fills in his mandated form. Let’s face it; this generally is nothing more than a dog-and-pony show. You know exactly what they’re looking for, and so do your students.

You can be practically the worst teacher in the school and get passing marks on your evaluation form. During the evaluation, you’re going to be on your best behavior and so are your students.

A better way to truly evaluate teachers is for an administrator to talk to the students in private, away from you. The administrator could select maybe five students to represent the class, based on their grades in the class. A good cross-section should be included, like perhaps one A student, one B student, two C students, and one student who is failing.

The administrator should not just use “yes” and “no” questions, either. Some would be okay, but several open-ended questions should be included, also.

A few questions/comments that should be included:
* Does your teacher effectively introduce new topics? How?
* Does the teacher use a variety of teaching methods? Describe them.
* Does the teacher provide enough practice for a new skill?
* How does the teacher ensure that everyone is on task and involved?
* Does the teacher provide enough feedback?
* Does the teacher belittle students?
* Do you feel comfortable asking for extra help?
* Do you think the teacher’s grading methods are fair?
* Do you know what is expected of you?
* What are the teacher’s main classroom rules?
* Is the teacher fair and consistent when applying circumstances for breaking the rules?
* What is the most relevant or interesting thing you’ve learned in the class?
* Tell me what you like about your teacher.
* Tell me what you would like to change about your teacher or the class.

This form of teacher evaluation would prove invaluable, both for the administrator and for the teacher. Student comments could be shared with the teacher, with student anonymity. I think it would give teachers a good idea of how they are perceived by the class.

This method would probably not be appropriate for younger students, but for high school students, it would be the perfect way for administrators to get a peek into what’s going on in the classroom.