Rachel L. Leibrandt MI Electronic Portfolio
Submitted for Graduation, May 2005
C: Self-Evaluation
principal observation | students | parent interactions | overall reflection


I continually evaluate my performance as a teacher.  This enables me to refine, modify, and change my instruction to meet the needs of my students throughout the year.  This is vital to the success of my teaching because the needs of my students change, and I need to change with them.  I use observations from my principal, student work, and parent interactions to evaluate my performance as a teacher.  I will explain and reflect on each method.

1.  Principal Observation
As a non-tenured teacher, I received four unannounced observations per school year.   I felt these were wonderful opportunities to receive feedback from my principal.  After my principal observed my teaching, I met with her to discuss my performance.  I was able to listen to how she perceived my success as a teacher.  A teacher and principal's day does not always allow for the opportunity to sit and discuss teaching.  Therefore, I always took advantage of this opportunity by engaging my principal in discussion. 

I also received an observation form that contained three sections:  Planning, Instructional Techniques, and Commendations/ Recommendations.  The three domains allowed for self-evaluation.  The planning section contained the objectives that I listed in my plan book.  By comparing my lesson objectives to the instructional technique my principal observed, I was able to evaluate how my teaching allowed or did not allow my students to achieve the lesson objectives.  This also enabled me to observe my own teaching through the eyes of another.  This enabled me to evaluate the effectiveness of my lessons.  The commendations/ recommendations section helped me set clear goals for my teaching.  I used those comments to refine, modify, or change my teaching. 

As I collected those forms, I was able to read through the snapshots of myself as a teacher throughout the year.  I was able to reflect on my strengths and areas that I would like to develop.  In addition, I have collected these forms for the past five years.  I read them in sequential order and reflect on how I've grown as a teacher.  Reflecting on these forms is an excellent source of self-evaluation. 

Date of Observation
Self-Evaluation Using Principal Observation
October 23, 2002:

I clearly remember this lesson.  I was teaching a small group of struggling readers who were working to develop decoding skills.  They were reading on a pre-primer level.  I was unsure if I was using appropriate activities to help develop their decoding skills.  I was also curious to know how the rest of my class behaved while I was instructing the small group.  This observation made me aware that my instructional techniques were beneficial for this reading group.  My principal mentioned that my students strive to meet my expectations.  This made me realize how important my expectations are to my students.  Through my principal's notes, I was also able to determine that the rest of the class remained on-task throughout my small group lesson. 
January 10, 2003:

By reading the instructional techniques section, I was able to see that I provided a variety of modalities for my students to express their learning.  In the coin lesson, I allowed them to work with play money, work at their seats in groups, and work individually.  Sometimes I am rushed and think I can "quickly" teach something.  Then I do not present the lesson using a variety of instructional techniques.  This observation challenged me to continue this practice.  I also liked that my principal saw an "atmosphere of collegiality."  Being a part of the class, especially being the teacher, I am unable to gain an accurate sense of the class atmosphere.  I was very excited to hear that she felt we had an atmosphere of collegiality in my classroom. 
April 9, 2003:  "Pilgrim Families" is one of my favorite simulation activities.  I often forget how simulations can help to engage students, and as my principal stated, "cement their acquired knowledge through participation."  This is such a valuable activity.  I often find myself so rushed, and I just want to teach.  I forget that I need to give my students opportunities to "cement" their understanding as I did in the pilgrim activity. 
April 30, 2003: I have worked to develop my Writing Workshop for the past six years.  Last year, I wanted my principal to observe my Writing Workshop, so I could receive feedback.  I was very excited to have this opportunity to share this with her.  In our conversation after she observed the lesson, she challenged me to continue to develop my conferences with the students.  Sometimes I edit and revise the students' pieces of writing at home.  If they have questions, we review them, and then they publish their pieces.  She noted that some of the papers are very much the same and lack style.  She challenged me to help my students develop their writing through the use of the conference.  This is something I am still developing.  In addition, I wondered if the students were truly engaged in their writing while I held conferences at the table.  I was excited to see that she observed them as "immersed" in their writing. 
Overall self-evaluation of the year through principal observation:
As I reflect on these observations, I learn about my instructional techniques, my classroom environment, and the work habits of my students.  These aspects of the classroom can be difficult to evaluate because as a teacher, I am always focused on what I'm doing.  Having an outside person observe my classroom provides me with a wealth of knowledge.  I need to continue to strive to use a variety of techniques in every lesson that I teach.  I am often so rushed when I sit down to plan my lessons, and I introduce a lesson using only one instructional technique.  The principal's feedback helps me realize that providing multiple instructional techniques is truly beneficial for the students' learning.  In the beginning of the year, I always spend a lot of time developing independent work habits.  I have always wondered if my students were excellent independent workers because I spent many days modeling and teaching those habits.  My principal's observations help me realize that the time spent developing those skills is extremely important.  She saw the results every time she observed my class.  I also wondered about the team building activities I integrate into my lessons.  I often forget about these activities mid-year, but these observations help me realize that they are important in developing a positive classroom atmosphere.  I realize that I should continue these team building activities to maintain the positive classroom atmosphere. 

2.  Students
I believe that student work is the most valuable source for self-evaluation because they are directly related.  By assessing my students' growth throughout the year, I am able to evaluate my success as a teacher.  I use student work to help me refine, modify, or change my instruction and planning.  I have many forms of student work that I assess, and I will demonstrate how I use the assessment of my students' work in Language Arts to evaluate my instruction.

Self-Evaluation Using Student Work 
Decoding One indicator I use to evaluate my success as a teacher are my students' uses of decoding strategies.  Decoding is a vital component of successful reading, and I constantly assess how, when, and where the students use these strategies.  I also assess their success at decoding words.  If I see that the students have not mastered these skills, I modify my teaching as necessary. I am able to determine whether I need to meet my students' needs through a small group, whole class, or individual lesson. 
Comprehension I constantly assess my students' comprehension strategies.  These strategies are also vital to successful reading.  I assess comprehension throughout the year and create and modify reading groups that will teach the needs of the students.  I also determine what dimension of comprehension the students need to develop (literal, inferential) and plan instruction that will meet those needs.  I believe that ongoing assessment throughout the year helps me evaluate how my teaching addresses their needs.  If I find that the students are not progressing, I am able to modify my teaching or seek additional assistance so those students can achieve their goals. 
Reading Responses
I constantly ask my students to complete reading responses about the books they are reading.  As I read their responses, I look for areas that I need to develop.  For example, the student sample displayed to the left shows that this student's response to the reading is very literal.  This student understood that the character changed, but he did not realize that the change was made about how the character felt about himself.  The student needed to connect the story to a time in his life when he changed how he felt about himself.  Now that I have determined what this student needs, I can modify my planning and instruction so I can develop this skill. 
Written Responses
I use the Pennsylvania state rubric to assess writing.  I assess five domains:  focus, content, organization, style, and conventions.  As I read the students' work, I determine areas that I need to target and develop within my instruction.  In addition, I have my students complete "trimester anchor papers," so I can assess their growth throughout the year.   As I reflect on their growth throughout the year, I become aware of how my teaching has impacted or failed to develop their writing.  Then I use this information as I plan my instruction.  I also determine their strengths and weaknesses, and I work to develop those areas in the individual writing conferences. 

3.  Parent Interactions
As a teacher, I understand the importance of parent support.  I value the contributions every parent makes to my classroom.  Therefore, I reflect on our interactions and use them as a method for self-evaluation.  I have a variety of ways I interact with parents:  telephone calls, e-mail, notes in the assignment book, and notes home.  I feel that parents are a valuable source of feedback because they know their children at home, and I know their children at school.  When I combine these two views, I can evaluate myself and refine, modify, or change my instruction. 

Method of Communication
Self-Evaluation Using Parent Interactions
Telephone Calls
I view telephone calls as an excellent source of self-evaluation.  I am able to receive feedback from parents about how they feel about their child's success in the classroom.  When they share their feelings with me, I am able to reflect on how my instruction affects their child.  Then I refine, modify, or change my teaching or my interactions with their child.  Clicking on the link to the left shows the phone log I maintain for every parent.  Every time I make or receive a phone call, I write notes about the subject of the phone call.  As I review the phone log throughout the year, I am able to evaluate my interactions with the parent and reflect on how I addressed their needs and the needs of their child. 
E-mail I use e-mail it if a parent needs to contact me quickly.  I prefer to talk with parents because misinterpretation can occur when one reads an e-mail message.  Clicking on the link to the left shows two parent e-mails.  The first is an e-mail that a parent sent before conferences.  She stated the issues she wanted to address in our conference.  Reflecting on this e-mail helped me evaluate her needs as a parent and helped me evaluate how I could address those needs.  This e-mail showed me that I needed to modify my instruction to address the needs of her child.  The second e-mail shows that a student had a difficult time with a homework assignment.  This e-mail showed me that I needed to self-evaluate my teaching from the previous day.  I realized that I had not given the students enough time to practice the homework game.  The next day, I was able to work with the student so he understood the concept of the math game. 
Notes in the Assignment Book
I use the assignment book on a daily basis.  I believe this is an excellent form of self-evaluation.  The assignment book is signed by parents every night.  If their child struggles with homework or if they have a question for me, parents can write a note in the assignment book.  I respond the next day when I check the book.  Clicking on the link to the left shows an example note in the assignment book.  One mom wrote that her child struggled with the math homework.  This helped me evaluate my teaching of the math concept from the previous day.  Then I was able to approach the concept in a new way with that child.  This also showed me that a particular child needed repetition with a particular skill. 
Notes Home
I also send home notes.  I try to make these notes positive in nature, but there are times when I need to make a parent aware of a situation.  These notes are carbon-copied, so I always have a record of the communication.  I have often evaluated how the parent and I worked together to meet a student's needs by reflecting on the notes I've sent home.   I can evaluate how cooperation between a teacher and a parent can benefit a student's learning.  I have also been able to evaluate how positive letters can be a beneficial way for me to give my students and parents feedback.  Clicking on the left shows two examples of notes I sent home.  Writing positive letters to parents makes me continually evaluate how my teaching reaches students in a positive manner. 

Overall Reflection:  Principal observation, student work, and parent interactions are an excellent source for self-evaluation.  As I reflect on these sources, I am able to determine how I need to refine, modify, and change my instruction.  As a teacher, I realize I can never stay the same.  I need to constantly strive to develop excellent instruction.  Self-evaluation is an excellent method to reflect on my teaching and learn from my experiences. 


Clipart from Discovery School.


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