The typical administrator’s feeling toward performance reviews is not a favorable one. Preschool teacher evaluations in too many early learning programs represent just another annual administrative chore. But they can — and should — be much more. Learn how to transform your preschool teacher evaluations into more enjoyable, effective experiences.
A “Necessary Evil” Can Be A Good Thing
Why do most organizations conduct performance reviews? Because that’s how it’s been done for decades, and because an oversight agency tells them they must. For example, 20 states require preschool teachers participate in their state educator evaluation system. The state of Washington’s regulations require licensed educators’ personnel files at preschool and child care programs include “Annual observation, evaluation, and feedback information.”
Even though you might have to conduct teacher evaluations, you should shift the thought from “annual reviews are something I have to do,” to “feedback and evaluations are things I should do and actually want to do.” Preschool teacher evaluations can be used to get to know your team, help employees perform their best, and move individually and organizationally closer to aligned goals.
Why You Should Regularly Evaluate Your Preschool Teachers
Regularly evaluating your preschool teachers brings many benefits.
- Staff evaluations provide valuable sources of feedback for professional growth.
- Done properly, teacher evaluations help promote open communication and clarify expectations.
- More frequent and more timely feedback results in improved performance, ultimately.
Receiving feedback just once a year, or even twice a year, allows for minimal opportunities to make use of that feedback. If the feedback is less than optimal and the teacher has opportunities to adjust her performance, then she is more likely to do so. Real-time evaluation allows for early interruption of undesirable patterns and behaviors and increased correction.
Important Elements of a More Successful Performance Evaluation
A more successful performance evaluation process not only will demonstrate respect and fairness, they will include the following elements:
- Explicit expectations for performance and outcomes that reflect the preschool teacher’s specific job description
- Goal setting for the short-term and long-term
- Regular feedback
- Collection of observation documentation throughout the year
- Competency evaluation to assess status and knowledge of core skills
- Professional development plans, for growth within the school as well as individual career paths
Preschool teacher evaluations should collect feedback from multiple sources and resources at different times. Professional practice measures could include student surveys, parent questionnaires, evaluation of student work, classroom observations, peer reviews, and self-assessment.
An effective preschool teacher evaluation requires appropriate outcomes management. For example, there should be differentiation in rewards between different performance levels. Ratings and expectations should clear and consistently applied. You should include a plan to support poor performance that sets explicit outcomes.
Finally, preschool teacher evaluations (and staff performance reviews in general) should ideally be just one component of an overall culture of feedback. You should regularly observe and monitor your early childhood educators and the successes (and challenges) of their students. Find opportunities to share your observations with the teachers, and take that opportunity to engage the teachers in dialogue about their own performance, professional plans, personal goals, and resource needs.
Key Areas to Review
The content and format for your teacher evaluations will vary according to personal style, statewide requirements, and your preschool’s expectations of educators. Several areas are key to include in your structured performance review:
- Professionalism: Assess basic standards of professional behavior, such as arriving on time, following your school’s protocols, etc.
- Work With Children: Observe the teacher’s relationship with students, and note how the teacher interacts with the children, inclusive practices, age-appropriateness, etc.
- Engagement With Family: Review how the teacher communicates with the family, whether she is responsive to family requests, and other interactions with the child’s family.
- Program Development: Note the teacher’s approach to her teaching. Is she prepared for the day’s activities? Does she adapt to individual student needs?
- Teamwork: Consider how the teacher interacts with other staff and assess the supportiveness of those interactions.
- Professional Development: What are the teacher’s professional goals, and what learning opportunities is she pursuing?
As an early learning administrator, you have an abundance of administrative tasks to attend to, such as preschool teacher evaluations. Partner with Honest Buck Accounting and let our expert accountants and professionals help ease your bureaucratic or business office burden.