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The Dreaded Performance Review

I have yet to meet a school administrator who enjoys conducting performance reviews of teachers or staff. Teachers do not like receiving a review of their performance any more than parents enjoy hearing an assessment of child’s delayed development.

Writing personal narratives takes a long time. It can be challenging to find language that uniquely describes individual teachers. It is even more challenging to review the same teachers, year after year.

Most good educators are reflective of their practice. They consider what does and does not work, making real-time changes to ensure they are continually challenging their students. An administrator’s performance evaluation is just one moment in time. There is no way it can capture all that happens in a classroom every day through the whole school year.

For these reasons and many more, I believe that teachers should write their own goals. They should then evaluate themselves on these goals midway through their school year and at the end. Areas of mastery and growth should be identified at both check-ins. These self-evaluation check-ins should be with the school administrator but led by the teacher. Most people are much harder on themselves than any authority figure would be. However, most people also have blind spots surrounding their behavior. So the administrator’s role should be to provide insight into these areas. . New or revised goals should be created following this dialogue and self-reflection.

Human resource managers will probably disagree with this type of performance evaluation. Rather than awarding some type of merit, as most performance evaluations do, this structure shifts the responsibility of growth onto the individual. Additionally, I think it reflects the core value of the educational process: giving the student ownership and promoting a desire to learn or achieve mastery. When we do this for our teachers by giving them the ownership for their own growth, we are saying that we trust they are capable and will grow.

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