So, it is the beginning of the year. Evaluation planning begins now.
At the beginning of the school year, we are simply not thinking about evaluation. We are thinking about schedules, timelines, ordering materials, processing materials, planning book fairs and literacy initiatives, technology access, library orientation, collaborative lessons.... Did you notice what just happened? We disappeared into the avalanche of our duties, not how those duties will be evaluated. However, this is the perfect time to begin thinking about the evaluation process. Begin with research.
1. Setting the Stage for Success.
Next, don't just put your employee handbook on the shelf in your office. Read it, cover to cover. Highlight those passages that apply directly to your job role. These passages may have bearing on your conversations about your evaluation later.
Lastly, ask who will be evaluating you, when you will be evaluated, how and when, and if the evaluation rubric for your job role is the only instrument used in your evaluation. Make note of the evaluation timeline on your calendar, put it into any electronic calendars that you use and set reminders of deadlines. If you could not find a copy, now is the time to ask for a copy of the evaluation rubric.
2. Get to Know the Evaluation Rubric.
Not every evaluation rubric is created equal. Not every evaluation rubric is created by practitioners of the field that will be evaluated by the rubric. Not all rubrics are fair to the person who is being evaluated with regard to time and experience. The rubric is created with the expectations of the district in mind. Never forget that.
If you are lucky, you work in a district where a team of media specialists were gathered to create the rubric and it was evaluated by the local union and meets the personal criteria of those two groups as well as the district and state in question. Unfortunately, this convergence does not happen overnight and you may be evaluated on a rubric that is flawed. Work with what you have.
EXAMPLE FROM THE EVALUATION RUBRIC OF HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SCHOOLS FOR LIBRARY MEDIA SPECIALISTS
"The library media specialist includes administration and faculty when annually creating and reviewing media goals. The library media specialist routinely adjusts goals as needed based on student needs and multiple sources of available school-wide data. The library media specialist identifies what data sources were used and outlines the role of the media program in response to that data. Goals go beyond circulation data to thoroughly support programs and connect to school-wide goals, classroom initiatives, and themes."
Translation to responsibility statements:
1. The administration will have approval over my goals. I may need to include a faculty committee in creating goals for the media program.
2. I will be instructed by administration to change my goals based on school-wide data.
3. I am responsible for identifying, collecting, and managing data from my program in response to goals.
4. My data cannot just be from circulation, it must be based on programs, school-wide goals and themes.
Notice that several tasks are identified in only one performance criteria.
3. Create Performance and Development goals.
All rubrics, not matter how poorly constructed, should give you an opportunity to complete performance tasks and develop skills. Performance goals are about showing how you can be effective now and development goals are about showing what skills you will acquire so that you can be effective or more effective in the future. Your goal planning should have a mixture of both.
Performance Goal: I will make five points of collaboration with classroom teachers per nine weeks.
Development Goal: I will improve relationship with my coworkers to make better collaborations, understand their goals and needs, and to assist in meeting their goals.
Both goals are measureable, but with different tools. The performance goal may be measured with a collaboration log. The development goal may be measured with collaborator surveys and/or a personal reflection journal.
4. Be realistic about your time.
Some time ago I decided to have a personal life outside of work, which required me to be more realistic about what I could complete in a 24 hour day. The clock is ticking and I have already run out of time to complete five other tasks that I would complete today.
In other words, (insert serenity prayer here), you can't do everything. You won't be addressing every point on the evaluation rubric every year. Be selective and choose what is most important to you and your program now, (based on school initiative and themes, of course).
5. Develop a system of collecting data and evidence that is time effecient and ongoing.
6. Provide regular status reports to stakeholders.
Write regular status reports. Be specific about the value of your work to keep your goals on track. Report that information to your stakeholders, which include administration, faculty and staff, students and parents.
Vary the method in which you report. Faculty, students, and parents really won't read much so an infographic of quick consumable information like the one to the right (randomly snagged from Pinterest. Thanks DHS library for sharing.) is great.
Administrators may want more detail. A quarterly report that addresses goals sent through email may be best for them. Gauge your audiences and report regularly, but don't overwhelm them with information. Too much information is ignored.
7. Conduct real service surveys about what you do, not who you are.
As you prepare for the end of the year evaluations, user surveys are generally expected by most school districts as one of the tools used for evaluating your media program. Many districts provide generic surveys that are repeated year to year for media specialists to use with patrons. Do yourself a huge favor, DON'T USE THE GENERIC SURVEY.
Surveys should be tailored to the goals that were created for the program, otherwise you are not measuring anything relevant to report. In addition, creating effective measurement tools are a part of professional practice. If you can't make a survey, learn how. Find someone to teach you. This will be the best professional learning you complete all year and while you are at it, use an online survey tool, like survey monkey to deliver the survey.
8. Wrapping up your year for your final evaluation meeting.
Last step, take your evaluation rubric and a moment to self-evaluate. Use your collected information to prove how you are self-evaluating, don't just choose levels in the rubric based on your personal feelings. Make some notes as to how you score against the performance criteria so that when you meet with your administrator for your final evaluation, you have the information at your fingertips to prove your value.
Good luck! But you really don't need it, because you have a game plan for success!