Be Careful. Evaluations Happen at the Oddest Times.


As you know (or don’t), I’m experiencing a rather weird situation.

No.

Not the rash.  That’s still a whole different story (any opportunity to use the word salve in a blog I take it… and I just did).

The Evil Spawn is in my wife’s 4th grade class.

You may be thinking this must be weird for them, but who really cares.

The important thing is it’s weird for me.

Why?

Because it is.Someone is Watching You.

And it’s my blog, so we are going to focus on my issues (but not all of them because of time constraints).

Having my daughter in her mother’s class struck me as odd from the very beginning.

It’s like prom.

I’ve said it before, the only good thing that can happen (for me… and I’m guessing you’re not surprised) is nothing bad happens.

A successful prom night for me is probably a boring night for the kids.

And I’m okay with that.

I feel the same about this “4th grade experiment”.

The only good thing that can come out of it is nothing bad happens.

No awkward Parent-Teacher Conferences.  No uncomfortable holiday parties.  No field trips where I have to chaperone and share a bus seat with 6 smelly kids over the course of an 18 hour day (which means 17 hours on the bus…  40 minutes in a museum…. and 20 minutes sitting at a picnic table eating a hot sandwich that’s supposed to be cold… probably in the rain).

When the school year started I envisioned a lot of crying.

I wasn’t sure by whom, but I figured one of the four of us would have some sort of breakdown (Buddy the Dog can be very emotional).

Much to my surprise, things have gone smoothly (I have the strange feeling I just jinxed myself).

I shouldn’t be surprised because this goes along with my theory on things almost always turn out just the opposite of what you expect (good and bad… so if you’re anticipating something good happening in the next few days… beware).

They both seem to be enjoying their year together, which means I get to enjoy my time at home.

The only thing that has struck me as odd is the Evil Spawn seems to be doing a year-long observation (the apple doesn’t fall far from the administrative tree).

Each night she comes home and critiques her mother’s performance.

It’s like getting a Broadway review after EVERY show.

Mom was interesting.  Mom was okay.  Mom was funny.  Mom got annoyed.  Mom got tickled.  Mom seemed tired.  Mom danced (ugh).  Mom’s timing was just a little off when she delivered a punch line during the math lesson (again… apple… not far from the tree).

For me it’s been an opportunity to experience my wife teaching without being in the classroom.

For the evil one, it’s a once in a lifetime chance to spend an entire year with her mom watching what she does best (not dance).

But for my wife?

It’s a year-long evaluation at the dinner table.

Good thing she has tenure.

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PrincipalsPage Thinks This is Funny.


Graduation brings many gifts (the end of school, luggage, and cash to name a few).

The grandest of them all is the fact that I can blog about my experiences with the graduating Senior Class.

As soon as they received their diploma, I’m free (as are they).

Don (if in fact that is Don...).

I’m no longer under any sort of moral contractual agreement not to embarrass them on the world wide web.

Not that they would ever read this drivel, but you never know.

From each class, I learn many lessons.

As I see them grow from snot-nosed kindergarteners to snot-nosed teenagers it is hard not to take something away from our time together.

A recent class (I don’t want to be too specific on the year just in case one of them gets a law degree… or owns a gun) taught me an invaluable lesson during a teacher’s evaluation.

As I watched the teacher work her magic, I noticed one young man paying extra special attention.

His name is Don (not really… the PrincipalsPage Legal Department advised me to change his name… or maybe I’m using his real name just to confuse you…).

He was hanging on every word the teacher said.

Each time a question was asked, his hand quickly went up to answer.

Don(?) seemed disappointed when the teacher called on other students.

This happened about four times before he finally got a chance to participate.

He could hardly contain his excitement.

The answer almost flew right out of his mouth.

Then something odd happened.

He answered the question by going 3rd person.

He said “Don thinks the answer is an adverb.”

Weird.

The answer was correct, but who goes 3rd person right in the middle of class?

Even weirder it was like no one noticed but me.  The teacher and the students never cracked a smile.

No one even acknowledged it.

During the rest of the evaluation this was all I could think about.

High school boy goes 3rd person for no apparent reason in English.

A couple of days later I was walking by this class, so I decided to drop in and get to the bottom of what happened.

I asked the teacher if she had noticed Don going 3rd person during her evaluation.

She said she hadn’t, but by the rest of the class’s laughter I could tell they did (by the way, compliments to them for not making a big deal of it during the evaluation).

So I asked Don (if in fact this is his real name) why he answered the adverb question in 3rd person.

After a long thoughtful and completely respectful pause he said…

…“Don doesn’t know why Don answered in 3rd person".

Fair enough.

The lesson here is don’t go 3rd person.  Ever.

I’m not sure why, just don’t.

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Evaluations: Which Came First, The Principal or the Good Behavior?


I’m fascinated by the reaction that many people have to an evaluation. In my humble opinion, they don’t seem to like them.

Call me crazy (trust me, I have been called worse).

The reaction is very subtle, but if you look closely you can see the disgust. And the steam coming out of orphuses (I have always wanted to use that word in a blog).

It is like people have to go through a greiving process.

Which Comes First?

Which Comes First?

There is denial.

Then anger.

Followed by bargaining.

Depression.

And finally, acceptance.

If you stop and think about it, no one has ever died from an evaluation (you just wish you would).

While this isn’t always the case, an evaluation does make most of us at least a little nervous.

It seems that most people are happy with their present job performance. They already have their own opinion on their abilities and they like it (they generally believe they are model employees… human nature I guess).

I have more respect for evaluations since I started being the one who does them.

If done correctly, I really believe you can help people become better at their jobs. And I assume this works in any type of business.

This can be done (in most cases) without subjecting employees to a torturous process that takes away the will to live (or makes them want to take away my ability to live).

And even more importantly, the evaluator doesn’t want them to lose the will to work hard for the good of the students.

If for some reason they aren’t better for going through the evaluation, I know I am.

Evaluations have been a great learning experience for me. Granted I could do without the paperwork, but overall they are quite interesting and educational (I almost always learn something about teaching and the subject area while I conduct an evaluation).

If I’d had the opportunity to watch 50 different teachers while I was still in the classroom, I am positive that I would have done a better job in my role as a teacher.

Every teacher teaches in a slightly different way, but most seem to get the job done.

It occurred to me that the really great teachers seem to do a few things alike.

One, they teach the entire class period. And the students know it. These teachers don’t have time to waste because there are too many concepts they need/want to cover.

Secondly, they are in the same mood every day. Could be outgoing and happy. Could be quiet and reserved, but their students always know what to expect.

Students like surprises, like a new car on their birthday. They don’t like surprises, like drastic psychotic mood swings from adults (mental note… neither does my wife).

When kids walk into a great teacher’s classroom they know instantly what to expect. They are going to be constructively busy the entire period and the teacher’s personality won’t be a surprise.

There is one other thing that the really good teachers seem to do. They dismiss their students when the bell rings (or after the bell rings… after all they have a lot to accomplish in one class period).

Seems like a small thing, but I have definitely seen a pattern.

When an evaluation is complete, I seem to hear one comment more than any other… “The students sure were good while you (place evaluator’s name here) were in the classroom.”

My question for the day (or the blog)…

is that because an administrator was in the room…

or because the teacher was giving 110%, completely organized, and teaching a lesson that is interesting and engaging?

Which came first? The administrator or the good behavior?

Or the great lesson?

This blog is only one person’s opinion. My wife refers to that person as… clueless. As a teacher, she likes the evaluation process. Who is right? Do most people (in any job) like being evaluated, or consider it a necessary (forced upon them) evil?

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.