Principal as Instructional Coach: AP Leadership and Teacher Evaluations
Another important topic of consideration for principals in this series on developing assistant principal leadership is building your assistant principal’s expertise in teacher evaluation. Your AP will be expected to evaluate teachers immediately despite the fact that she has never done so before, and has only experienced the evaluation process as a teacher.
She may be able to express what she liked or disliked about the process, and how it did or did not benefit her teaching. But frankly, having her learn to evaluate other teachers via the sink-or-swim method using these personal reference points will not build her proficiency. A principal’s mentoring is key.
Teacher evaluations: Who NOT to assign to your AP
In my experience, wise principals are thoughtful about assigning teachers to their assistant principals for evaluation, especially when APs are new. The following teachers are not optimum candidates for evaluation by a new AP:
- Teachers who have a history of negative interactions with students
- Poor classroom managers
- Teachers who fail large numbers of students
- Those resistant to feedback
- Teachers who engage in unprofessional behavior
Young APs may encounter resistance evaluating veteran teachers
A further contributing factor to problematic evaluation relationships can be an AP’s youth versus a veteran teacher’s years of experience, especially when there are issues that need to be addressed through evaluation. Unfortunately, some veteran teachers make it widely known that they do not respect administrators. When the administrator is half their age, this only exacerbates the situation, but there are ways to navigate negative situations.
The other end of the spectrum may present problems for APs as well. Although new teachers tend to be open to feedback and willing to improve, assigning non-tenured teachers to an AP means that the decision to non-re-elect a teacher or to grant tenure will also fall to the assistant principal. I would argue that this is a decision that should rest with the principal, but that means that the principal must be the evaluator.
Given these considerations, a good rule of thumb is to assign strong or adequately performing, tenured teachers to the AP for evaluation. Upcoming posts on this topic will explore how to mentor your AP in the planning and conducting of formal observations and evaluations.