• Jim Mercer

SamTastic Weekly Tip: 2/25/19 - Make your annual evaluation of staff valuable.

Today’s tip: Make your annual evaluation of staff valuable.

Each district or organization has its own formal evaluation system—a series of steps designed to judge the performance of staff members. This is a time consuming process that often has little positive effect.

Some try to improve their formal, summative evaluation structure by focusing on areas for improvement. Of course, this has little, if any impact unless it is combined with robust, frequent and positive coaching.

Effective SAM teams look at their data, time spent with a teacher, when preparing a formal evaluation. They look to see if there is a pattern of support, frequent observation of practice and lots of varied feedback and group work. This data tells more about the leader than anyone else. Is the data a story of an effective school leader? If not, is the leader willing to commit to giving the teacher the missing, and needed, support and coaching? Some teams even print the graph showing the work with a teacher and add it to the evaluation documents.

“Being a school leader isn’t rocket science. It is harder.” NSIP director Mark Shellinger makes this point at all SAM team implementation training sessions. A rocket scientist has to get it right just once. Once that happens he/she can replicate and get it right every time. A school leader has to keep adjusting his/her approach and keep doing so until he/she gets it right. And, since the leader is working with people, the same approach may not work the next day and he/she will have to try something else.

Good SAM teams enjoy the work at solving the puzzle—what do we do today to help improve each teacher—and never give up. This requires a vigorous positive attitude and a focus on celebrating the smallest wins each day. It is worth it, though, as you are doing the most important work in the country today: teaching our children and students.

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