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Evaluations can be a nerve-wracking experience for any teacher. As art teachers, we are also artists and can be very sensitive about our teaching practice. The normal circumstances of an evaluation can make many art teachers nervous. Those of us who may have an evaluation this year while teaching remotely are in uncharted territory.
We understand the need to continue the evaluation process, but we may wonder how to best prepare for a formal evaluation while still teaching remotely. Despite having a few months of practice, teaching art through a computer doesn’t feel natural to many of us. While we may be confident in our typical in-person classrooms after years of experience, our remote experience is still relatively new by comparison.
When it’s time to start planning for your evaluation, it’s a good idea to take a look at the rubric or guide your district already has in place. From this evaluation tool, you can gain some insight into what your administrator is looking for. Many of these characteristics and actions are things you already demonstrate. Unfortunately, your administrator may not be aware of all the great things you do in and out of your school. By looking at the evaluation tool, you can better prepare to represent yourself accurately.
As with most evaluations, there is usually a pre-conference scheduled with your administrator. A remote evaluation will most likely take place over the computer. However you end up meeting, you will want to be prepared with questions answered ahead of time. Your administrator may provide you a list of questions to consider before the meeting. Answer these questions, not only informally in conversation but also in writing before your meeting.
Typed answers will provide you with the key details you want to mention in your meeting. You can refer to this document if you forget specific information. The other reason you may want to type your answers is sothat you can send a copy to your administrator after the meeting. You can make their job a little easier by providing specifics like dates and titles they may have missed during your meeting. Give them a clear picture of how amazing you are!
After answering the questions, go back and look for specific examples to support your responses. For example, if you wrote down that you attend online art education conferences for professional development, then provide a screenshot or the conference program’s image. You can speak to specific workshops that helped you implement a new lesson in your classroom.
The written answers can be a bullet list. Your administrator will appreciate clear, concise answers to reference for your evaluation. The evidence you provide can be more elaborate, like lesson plans, presentations, pictures, etc. Try to have a specific example for each bullet point you listed to answer the questions. This will also give you more to talk about in your pre-conference meeting.
The biggest change for having a remote learning evaluation is that your administrator will be joining from his or her computer, much like your remote students. You will want to provide your administrator access to your online classroom in advance. Create a cheat-sheet list of procedures and norms that you have established in your classroom. Think of this as your classroom management plan or classroom expectations that you would usually establish with students in-person.
Some of those easily observable characteristics of your interactions and physical classroom space are less apparent in a remote learning atmosphere. Share with your administrator how you’ve developed strategies for engagement, set routines, and manage behavior issues. If they have an idea of how you set up your online classroom before they logon, they’ll be able to better understand what you’re doing during the observation.
The best advice for your evaluation is to treat it like any other day. Don’t try to impress your administrator by attempting new strategies or technology you’ve never incorporated before. The point of your evaluation is to assess all of the great things you already do. You can’t fake a perfect lesson for your evaluation.
Be yourself and allow your administrator to see how you genuinely conduct a class. Students will be more at ease when following the normal routines than trying to force some trendy new activity you think will impress your administrator. Even if something goes wrong, how you respond can speak to your strengths as an educator. Approach the day like any other. Try to be calm and not make a big deal out of the observation. Be confident and welcome them into your virtual classroom.
There has been no playbook for how to best teach art through remote learning. We’ve done the best we can through research and trial and error. We’ve managed to build positive relationships and develop routines despite our current circumstances. Your administrators know this year has been challenging. They will likely want to observe how you have handled this challenge, but with a great deal of grace and understanding. Take this as an opportunity to show how you’ve adapted your teaching style. Welcome their feedback so that you might improve the remote learning experience for your students.
How is your district approaching evaluations this year?
What tips would you give a first-year teacher going into their evaluation?
How has teaching remotely changed your overall teaching philosophy?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors from across the nation and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University or any of its academic offerings.