It was long time Christian school administrator, J. Lester Brubaker who said, “Only that work that is evaluated is improved.” One of the most under-developed areas in Christian schools is that of staff evaluation. Schools seeking ways to improve must understand the importance of looking inward — scouring themselves to the core — investigating all they are and do, be willing to scrutinize themselves thoroughly, and then make necessary plans for adjustment and change.
It is not right to think of evaluation as a one-off pursuit, but done year-in and year-out, seeking to ever improve upon the quality. Each teacher, each year, should be a part of the process. When schools forsake properly evaluating its teachers, it suffers. Being a great Christian school is hard work and this area of teacher evaluations is one of the areas requiring diligence, consistency, and hard work.
Listed here are a few misconceptions many have about the process and event of evaluation. It’s important to remember, evaluation is not supervision, although certainly one function of it.
MISCONCEPTION #1: Evaluation takes place in the classroom
While good teaching should take place inside the classroom, it should take place outside the classroom, as well. That being the case, evaluation of any teacher must be a combination of observable moments in and out of the classroom, including interaction with other staff, parents, and various students in various settings. It is an administrator’s job to observe the observable moments!
MISCONCEPTION #2: Evaluation just happens
To the contrary, evaluation is a prescriptive process. In personal and God-honoring ways, administrators must ask the hard questions and get involved in understanding the process of why things are done as they are done. This happens in informal settings and formal observable moments. Evaluation must ultimately be a formal pursuit whereby a teacher understands they are being observed for encouragement and improvement opportunities, and in certain cases — contract renewal.
MISCONCEPTION #3: Evaluation is only for new teachers
Evaluation is a process that should be occurring each year, every year, for every teacher. Frankly, many schools are horrible at this and simply avoid it altogether because it is just too difficult to “stay up on it all.” Evaluation is a form of discipleship. It is the role of the shepherd (administrator) to lead and disciple those that are in his care. Once a disciple, always a disciple. Veteran teachers need the attention of this process as much as a new teacher. While veterans have the experience, they may also be doing poor things over and over without notice. I recall a comment by a long-time administrator, that many veteran teachers have taught the same lessons the same way year after year and therefore brought no freshness to the classroom from year to year.
MISCONCEPTION #4: Evaluation is a program
Evaluation must become a lifestyle of an excellent school. We are Christ’s disciples and this Christian life calls us to learn from others and to live like Him (Romans 12:2). This will require significant changes in the way we think and live including in our profession … our calling. Evaluation is a professional process of improvement and should seek to bring honor the Lord — for the very purposes of education are to know Him and make Him known.
MISCONCEPTION #5: Evaluation is a necessary “evil”
To the contrary, there better never be ANY evil processes in the Christian school! Evaluation should be a process that teachers never fear. It must never be used as the hammer that hangs over the head of any staff member. Perhaps the greatest encouragement an administrator can receive from a teacher is one who shares how the entire evaluation process helped build them up and make them more confident to continue in this great task and calling to teach!
A solid Christian school has its basis in the Holy Scriptures where the Bible is the foundation and rule of the entire school. The Christian school is led forward by the discipline of the Word of God. Thus, Christ is Lord over education. It would be a disgrace to ignore Christ’s crown in the area of education, the mind, ideas, and the rearing of our children. Taken seriously, establishing a meaningful evaluation process at your school can be one of the most God-honoring things you can do to maintain quality, and improve impact as a Christian school.
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