How to evaluate a teacher’s performance

Delivering a quality education for students starts with the teacher. A teacher’s job usually includes a three-part process: planning lessons, presenting the lessons, and following through to make sure students understand and retain the curriculum.

Each teacher has a unique approach and teaching style — and there’s no such thing as one proven formula for success in the classroom. While personality is an important factor in the teacher-student relationship, personality alone won’t ensure an optimal educational experience. Following fundamental teaching principles is essential. 

Every school needs to determine how to evaluate a teacher’s performance to make sure teachers are meeting students’ educational needs.

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Teacher evaluation matters

There’s no question that a good teacher has a positive impact on student learning. But collecting measurable data from student test scores and grades alone won’t identify how effective a teacher is. It’s important to look at a wide range of factors that make a teacher successful in their work, including

  • Formal education and continuing education
  • Experience in the classroom and the education sector
  • The ability to foster positive interactions with students
  • The ability to create a positive classroom environment
  • Successfully using homework and assessments to determine student proficiency
  • Communication with students, parents, and coworkers
  • Integration of various teaching techniques to accommodate the unique needs of each student
  • Accommodation of students with disabilities or behavioral challenges
  • Integration of cultural diversity in the classroom curriculum

Developing a system to evaluate a teacher’s performance isn’t just about looking at the nuances of what’s happening in the classroom. It’s also important for creating accountability. The ultimate purpose of a teacher evaluation system is to improve the teacher’s effectiveness — and the more effective a teacher is, the more successful their students will be.

Tools for evaluating a teacher’s performance

Most industry experts agree that the current approach to teacher evaluation isn’t working — largely because many evaluation systems are inadequate or overly complicated. Because effective teacher evaluations are critical to ensuring everyone performs at their best and to delivering a quality education, school administrators need to be proactive about implementing new evaluation systems. 

Digital tools help evaluators conduct an observation and deliver actionable information to teachers. Here are some tools you can use to make the process easier and more effective:

  • Digital forms. Maintaining equity in evaluations starts with a structured system that ensures you assess every teacher using the same process. Digital forms and templates encourage objective reviews and reduce evaluators’ tendency to report subjective opinions. Jotform provides a wide range of templates and forms that are customizable and easy to use — the teacher assessment form template is an excellent place to start. As an added benefit, Jotform collects your data with forms that feed directly into tables, making the information easier to analyze.  
  • Feedback reports. One of the most common problems with teacher evaluation systems is that they often don’t provide teachers with actionable and meaningful feedback. Observers should give teachers a report with notes detailing successes as well as specific advice on what and how they can improve. Jotform’s reporting features make it easy to consolidate information from a form into a document to present to each teacher.
  • Video tools. Tech platforms make conducting evaluations convenient for both administrators and educators. If evaluators aren’t available to attend every class in person, then the teacher can set up a camera to capture classroom lessons and interactions and submit the videos to evaluators. Administrators can then view the content at their convenience. Additionally, video footage can be helpful for teacher coaching and peer observation.

Each school environment is different, which is why a personalized approach is essential for your evaluation system. These tools provide the foundational elements — you can customize them to match your evaluation system of choice. 

Best practices for teacher evaluation

When deciding how to evaluate a teacher’s performance, consider implementing a multifaceted system. 

For example, most teacher evaluations involve classroom observation only, but it can also be helpful to integrate a self-reporting element. If you have evaluators complete digital evaluation forms, you can also ask teachers to evaluate themselves in a similar way. 

Don’t forget to track student achievement metrics — such as standardized test scores — which provide other points of reference.

Teacher evaluation systems often rely on a predetermined set of indicators. During the process of developing your evaluation forms, be sure to include descriptions of what effective teaching looks like and rating scales for different subcategories, such as

  • Content knowledge
  • Preparation and lesson planning
  • Instructional techniques
  • Classroom environment
  • Collaboration
  • Professional development

To make a teacher evaluation system as effective as possible, administrators need to provide meaningful feedback and coaching. 

Teacher evaluation is a critical element in building a successful educational experience for students. It’s important to use research-based models and implement them consistently to positively impact teachers — and the students they teach.

This article is originally published on Sep 16, 2021, and updated on Aug 08, 2022.

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