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Evaluation Conferences and Observation Best Practices

Evaluation Conferences and Observation Best Practices

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, teachers examine best practices to engage in during conferences and observations with their evaluator

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Welcome. I'm Tricia Fyfe. And in today's video lesson, we will cover the lesson titled, Evaluation Conferences and Observation Best Practices. As we learn about this topic, we will work towards one main learning objective. And together in this video lesson, we'll use the following question to guide or learning. When meeting for conferences and observations with your evaluator, what are some of the best practices to consider?

So what should we consider when we're thinking about conferences and evaluations? Today in this video lesson, we'll talk about three different areas that you should consider best practices for. The pre-conference, during the observation itself, and post-conference. Let's start out by talking about best practices for the pre-conference.

As teachers and evaluators, pre-conferences and post-conferences, which we'll discuss in a moment, are such an important tool in the process of evaluation and improvement. We can share information that's essential, such as the class makeup. Things, like, who are your students? What are their needs? Their strengths? What does your evaluator need to know about the lesson? What's led to this lesson? What is the focus, and why is this the focus? What is the student data that relates to this particular lesson and observation?

Show your evaluator that you're using data from assessments to guide your teaching and decisions instructionally. Let those observing you know what to expect. But also, it's important to ask your evaluator what you should expect. And ask about their expectations of you. If these expectations do not align, explain why, and discuss the matter.

After the pre-conference, it's time to start thinking about the observation itself. There are some best practices to consider during the observation. It's essential to remember that while your students deserve you at your best, this day and your teaching for the observation should be no different than any other day you teach. This is not a performance, it's you at your best. And your best should be the same as every other day. Things are bound to go wrong occasionally, both in everyday teaching, and, yes, during observations at times. Be honest and real, and they are much less likely to happen during observations.

One of the very best ways to become comfortable with observations is to be observed over and over again, announced and unannounced. Initiate this process. Invite evaluators and peers into your classroom. Accept and be grateful for the opportunity to receive this feedback. It's equally important to consider the relationships that you've worked so hard to develop with your students. You've invested so much time into your students and their success. So be yourself. It's you, the teacher to these students, that has the greatest impact on student achievement. This is according to research.

One thing to consider is the timing of evaluations. If it was unannounced, and it's most definitely not a good time for an observation, be honest. Explain this to evaluator, and request that they maybe come back at another time if possible. For example, maybe you're administering an assessment. Here they're not going to see you in action during a lesson. So it might not be appropriate. Invite them to come back, and make the most of both of your time.

It is important though, for your evaluator to see that you are dealing with situations that are authentic, and interactions that are real between you and your students. So if it's just a challenging situation, or a problem that you're dealing with in the classroom, make sure that your evaluator sees this, and sees you work through this. There are times that are inappropriate, but make sure that you're choosing the correct times to ask and evaluator to come back. On the other hand, if you know that you'd like to showcase a lesson, or your students' learning that you take pride in, open the invitation to come and observe during these times. Remember the process of evaluation is aimed at bettering yourself and getting feedback.

The last set of best practices that we'll discuss today are those of the post-conference. One of the key considerations here for teachers is to think very carefully about the amount of time that you dedicate to the post-conference. You want to make sure that you not only have time to receive feedback, but you also have time built in to get questions answered, and clarify things.

Sometimes it's hard to receive feedback well when you've been working so hard. Have an open mind. Address anything that you believe is a potential discrepancy. And use evidence when possible to address these discrepancies. It might be helpful to invite the evaluator back for a second opportunity to watch if there's a difference in opinion. It's also essential to make the most of feedback. Ask for help in developing a plan for improvement. And request times to check in with your evaluator. Most importantly, remember that you became a teacher for a reason, to become the very best teacher. Not just because you love it, but for your students. The evaluation process is designed to help you better yourself and your students.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the following question. When meeting for conferences and observations with your evaluator, what are some best practices to consider? Today we looked at the best practices for the process of teacher evaluation.

First, we started with the pre-conference. Remember, here it's important to share information that's pertinent, and exchange expectations with your evaluator. During the observation it's important to be yourself, and be honest with your evaluator. During the post-conference accept feedback for what it is, an opportunity to better your teaching for you and your students. Develop a plan and ask questions, this process is for you.

Now that you're not familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. Consider a time you have been observed as a teacher. Or a time that you have observed this process. Which of these best practices did you use during this experience?

Thanks for joining me today and discussing the lesson, Evaluation Conferences and Observation Best Practices. I hope you found value in this video lesson and ideas we talked about, as far as evaluation conferences, and observations, and the best practices to consider. I hope you're able to apply these ideas and resources to your own teaching. As you reflect on this new information, and how it can be applied, you may want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies the video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning, and explore ways to apply your newly acquired skill set.

Notes on “Evaluation Conferences and Observation Best Practices ”


(00:00- 00:25) Introduction/Objectives

(00:26- 00:41) What to Consider for Teacher Evaluations and Conferences?

(00:42- 01:44) Best Practices: Pre-Conferences 

(01:45- 04:12) Best Practices: Observation

(04:13- 05:12) Best Practices: Post-Conference

(05:13- 05:54) Recap

(05:55- 06:45) Reflection 

Additional Resources

Teacher Development Toolkit for the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model

This document from Marzano Research Laboratories provides tools to prepare for pre and post conferences.

Ohio Department of Education: Teacher Performance

This page provides tools for pre and post conferences, as well as for professional growth plans and improvement plans.