Examples, Examples, Examples

Vol. 11 No. 6


In the 12 months since we released the new ISM Evaluation and Growth Cycle model, we’ve been asked to compare this to other approaches that schools currently use. We’re happy to address one particular theme concerning evaluation rubrics.


As a quick re-cap, ISM recommends that schools:

  • Identify and communicate “characteristics of excellence” that describe the most important behaviors/traits for teachers, based on your mission, culture, and values;
  • Use these characteristics as the foundation for hiring, inducting, evaluating, coaching, paying, and guiding teachers; and
  • Establish these characteristics as your “expectations” for teachers; observe their performance in a variety of settings inside and outside the classroom; coach and mentor them on a regular basis; evaluate their performance against these characteristics; and help teachers use the evaluation as a point of reflection when selecting and pursuing their professional growth goals for the coming year.

Rubrics or Examples? Examples!

We’ve observed that a number of schools have developed complex rubrics for evaluating faculty (example: one rubric ran more than seven pages and covered four levels of performance for each of 30 teacher qualities). While we applaud the diligence that faculty committees have shown in developing these rubrics, this approach concerns us for two reasons.

1. It is overwhelming for both teacher and evaluator. We know of few professionals of any type who could keep 30 “priorities” in mind at the same time when carrying out their daily duties. Nor do we know anyone who could evaluate even one teacher (much less a whole department or division) on 30 criteria at any level of detail without reaching the point of exhaustion … to say nothing of how the teacher could possibly receive and reflect on so much feedback at once (or at all).

2. It implies that evaluation is about checking the boxes of a rubric, not providing substantive examples. We disagree with this entire statement. Instead, we believe that effective evaluation and coaching is founded on sharing and discussing substantive behavioral examples—and learning from those examples, whether good or bad.

Keeping It Simple

Instead of detailed rubrics, we recommend instead that schools “keep it simple”—but effective.

  • When you observe teachers, look for examples of behavior that illustrates how they are (or are not) demonstrating the characteristics/expectations that have been established.
  • Using these examples as your coaching base, discuss with teachers how they can enhance (or correct) these specific practices.
  • Provide them with direction, encouragement, and resources to guide them in developing these behaviors/characteristics.

It’s hard to do this – in terms of committing the time, energy, and resources to carry this out on a regular basis. We believe, though, that this simple approach provides administrators with the best means of helping faculty grow (individually and collectively) along the lines that the school requires—and along lines that will inspire the teachers themselves to feel supported, valued, and encouraged.

Additional ISM articles of interest
ISM Monthly Update for Human Resources Vol. 10 No. 8 Re-Designing Your Teacher Evaluation Process
ISM Monthly Update for Business Officers Vol. 10 No. 5 Why Business Managers Need to Care About Teacher Evaluation
Private School News Vol. 11 No. 2 ISM’s New Faculty Evaluation Template
ISM Monthly Update for School Heads Vol. 9 No. 7 Does Your Teacher Evaluation System Include Professional Development?
ISM Monthly Update for Human Resources Vol. 10 No. 7 Can Evaluation Really Drive Faculty (and Student) Performance?

Additional ISM articles of interest for Gold Consortium members
I&P Vol. 37 No. 2 A 21st Century Teacher Evaluation Model

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