To study the issue of staff evaluation on education, I interviewed Name Surname, the assistant principal at Organization. The focus of the interview was the principal assistance experience in staff evaluation, her opinion about its necessity and effectiveness, and her approach to evaluating the employees.
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How long are you involved into staff evaluation? How did you form your approach to it?
I am quite new to the game. I faced the necessity to fulfill staff evaluation a year ago when I obtained the position of the principal assistant; before that, my experience was limited by evaluating and being evaluated, not organizing and conducting evaluation. To cope with the new responsibility, I had to do a big individual work: I got familiarized with a huge volume of theoretical information on staff evaluation.
How do you estimate importance of staff evaluation for the work of the institution?
I would say this issue is of crucial importance. To go somewhere, you need to know the destination. Staff evaluation shows one where he/she should go further.
What is your opinion about student evaluation?
Well, this issue is quite controversial for many, but not for me. I think that without learning students’ opinion, the whole system is blind and deaf: just imagine a medic who treats a patient without hearing him/her. The most important issue in student evaluation is to correctly design the questions and have correct expectations about it. It is not a good idea to ask students if “a teacher is good or bad” as well as consider student evaluation a kind of panacea.
How to use the results of staff evaluation effectively?
This is a very important question. Staff evaluation is worthless until its results are correctly interpreted and practically implied. My responsibility is to understand the staff evaluation results, help the employee understand his/her strength and weaknesses and offer the way for self-improvement. These tasks are very difficult, much more difficult than fulfilling evaluation itself.
Do you use the 360-degree feedback system in your work?
No, I do not think it is worth the efforts it requires. I prefer making staff evaluation more specific. For example, in case I need to evaluate a teacher as a subordinate, I design a range of corresponding questions and ask his/her supervisors to answer them. This is the way I organize my work.
Performance Evaluation Documents
Being given the access to evaluation documents, I got familiarized with the following ones:
- Lesson observation documents. The lesson observation form used by the assistant principal includes the following sections: organization of physical environment, lesson content, communication during the lesson. When I asked about the theoretical fundament of the given form, the assistant principal said it was a summary of different observation approaches she got familiarized with. She tried to embrace the most important aspects of classroom observation.
- Parent-teacher relationship evaluation. The evaluation forms are filled by both parents and the teacher. The evaluation embraces such issues as frequency of contacting parents, content of communication, quality of communication.
- Teacher-teacher collaboration evaluation. The evaluation form is filled by a teacher and his/her colleagues. It is aimed at evaluating a teacher’s willingness to share information and experience, as well as effectiveness of this collaboration.
- Ethical standards evaluation. This kind of evaluation helps describe a teacher’s ethical principles and the extent he/she follows them. The form is filled by a teacher, his/her students and his/her colleagues.
- Performance and development evaluation. This is the key component of the evaluation system used in the organization. A broad evaluation form is aimed at evaluating how well the teacher performs, how strongly he/she has progressed during the given period and how strongly he/she is motivated for improvement. When I asked why performance and development are combined within one evaluation, the assistant principle explained that these issues are connected with each other and that while performance serves as an absolute characteristic, development is a relative one.
Thus, the evaluation system used by the assistant principal includes a range of narrow evaluation forms with each of them devoted to a specific aspect of a teacher’s activity. The system produces the impression of overload: in my opinion, some of the evaluation forms may be eliminated or joint with each other. Besides, the evaluation system lacks theoretical background: despite the forms are detailed and the questions provide valuable information, there is a risk that the assistant principal may miss important points or confuse the focus of evaluation. My recommendation to the assistant principal is to develop a more neat evaluation system with a smaller number of evaluation documents and design evaluation questions based on the templates offered in books articles and standards devoted to teacher evaluation.