Performance appraisals in the field of education refer to the process of a supervising educator observing and evaluating the performance of a teacher. These supervising educators are usually department heads or administrative faculty--principals or vice principals. Performance appraisals are usually structured in such a way that the teacher being observed receives valuable feedback on both strengths and weaknesses in her teaching approach, allowing her to increase her effectiveness.
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Performance appraisals follow a set pattern determined by the school district. The district develops a way of evaluating teachers based on the state teaching objectives and standards. This provides an external, neutral and objective measure by which to evaluate teachers. The staff members responsible for observing teachers are usually individuals who have demonstrated proficiency in teaching and who have a thorough knowledge of the appraisal criteria.
Teacher performance appraisal often takes the shape of a formal observation of the teacher in the classroom. This involves the supervising teacher or administrator scheduling an observation ahead of time. The observer sits in on the class and takes notes on teacher behaviour, student response and flow of lesson. Another appraisal technique takes place outside of the classroom in the form of a portfolio review. An appointed individual will read and evaluate a portfolio of lessons and assessments the teacher has created as well as student work. These two techniques together can provide a comprehensive view of the teacher's work in and outside of the classroom.
After the appraisal has been completed, the individual reviewing the teacher will create a formal set of observations complete with feedback and suggestions. This is often formally presented in writing to the teacher being observed.
The supervising teacher or administrator in charge of evaluating the teacher usually reports on both strengths and weaknesses, as well as actionable suggestions for development. Weaknesses are analysed for growth opportunities, and the evaluator will often help the teacher develop a specific action plan for personal professional development. This is often called a personal growth plan, or teacher improvement plan.
Because the teacher is being observed and monitored for weaknesses, as well as supported in fixing those weaknesses, teacher performance appraisal can be directly related to the increased effectiveness of teachers. If the appraisal system is approached with a degree of professionalism that is not compromised and if the teacher is supported in making the changes necessary for addressing the area of weakness, performance appraisals can significantly help schools in retaining excellent educators who strive for improvement. This in turn benefits the students of that school, with far-reaching ramifications for society.
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