'Professional' Evaluation Of Teachers May Not Be Easy, But It IS Simple!

By: Jim Askew
March 24, 2011
April 13, 2012

Every interaction a teacher has with students, parents, and colleagues is founded on their teaching philosophy!

Successful classroom teachers have a STRONG teaching philosophy - deeply rooted in educational history, learning theory, and teaching methods! As profesional educators, they commit their teaching philosophy to writing, publish it for all to see, review and update it regularly (because it will change from time to time), and LIVE IT.
This document should be the FIRST thing administrators ask for when interviewing a prospective teacher!
Questions and answers based on a teacher's teaching philosophy reveal their professionalism and should be the determining factor in the hiring decision!
'Professional' Evaluation of Teachers:
  • The purpose of 'professional' teacher evaluation is to make teachers AND administrators better at their jobs − thus improving the daily learning experience of students!
    NOTE: No one can evaluate the professionalism of a classroom teacher except a 'properly trained' administrator who sees them working every day!

    Each administrator involved in classroom teacher evaluation begins with their own written 'administrative' philosophy, closely paralleling the teacher's teaching philosophy − giving a copy to each of their teachers at some point in the process! The Superintendent is responsible for evaluating each administrator's philosophy.

    This is not only beneficial for the administrator, it also gives them professional credibility with their teachers.

  • All administrators within a school district or building agree on a teaching philosophy 'rubric' to be used, give it to teachers, and EXPECT them to produce a writtin statement of teaching philosophy − covering ALL rubric criteria.
    • The evaluating administrator reviews the document with each teacher, requiring revisions until the teacher has completely expressed their philosophy in ALL rubric criteria areas.
      • A teacher's teaching philosophy MUST be clear and comprehensive. As professional educators, neither the teacher nor the administrator can be satisfied with a poorly written document!
        • Failure to produce a written teaching philosophy 'worthy' of a Successful Classroom Teacher shows a lack of professionalism and should be considered grounds for dismissal.
    • When the document is completed, and approved by both teacher and administrator, it is used as THE PROFESSIONAL STANDARD for that teacher.
      • NO, all teachers will not have exactly the same teaching philosophy.
      • YES, that is fair − and professionally sound!
  • The evaluating administrator makes frequent short and unannounced classroom observations.
    • Professional classroom teachers do not 'stage' a one-time dog and pony show for an administror to observe! Successful classroom teachers are comfortable having their classroom observed at any time, by anyone!
      • All professional educators know that many factors are involved in making some classes, and some days, better than others. For that reason, ALL the teacher's classes should be observed. Even though they are challenging, bad classes, and bad days, provide the best opportunity for teachers to strengthen their teaching philosophy.
    • Shortly after each observation, the administrator and teacher have a 'sit down" discussion about how things 'observed' in the classroom relate to the teacher's teaching philosophy.
      • The teacher should expect questions like, 'Why did you do this?' - 'Why did students do that?' - 'How does this fit with your teaching goals and expectations?' In fact, teachers should be prepared to answer this type of question AT ANY TIME - from ANY ONE!
      • A teacher's teaching philosophy should be the foundation for answering ALL questions about their professional decisions − whether from an administrator, parent, or student!
      • The 'strength' of their teaching philosophy determines the classroom teacher's 'confidence' in their professional decisions!
      • If there is an obvious weakness (something not covered by, or working against the teacher's stated teaching philosophy), the administrator works with the teacher to strengthen it − thus improving the learning experience for that teacher's students.
      • If the teacher needs more administration support, they should feel free to ask for it − and expect to get it.
    • Teachers, as professional educators, are held accountable to their own teaching philosophy! Again, although teaching philosophies may be similar, they will not be exactly the same.
  • Every school year begins with the evaluating administrator and classroom teacher meeting to review EACH OTHER'S written philosophy and discussing GOALS for the new year − based on the previous year's experiences.
    • Remember, the purpose of 'professional' teacher evaluation is to make teachers AND administrators better at their jobs − thus improving the daily learning experience of students!
Example of a teaching philosophy rubric

This classroom teacher's philosophy of education/teaching philosophy