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April 04, 2017

Pre & Post Conference Tips from a Former Principal

Headshot of a former team member Kevin Rooney.

Kevin Rooney

Former Principal

At its best the evaluation process between teachers and administrators should be about professional growth for the teacher, and a quality learning environment for the students. In order to accomplish these lofty goals, many schools are striving to include the necessary pieces of a quality feedback loop: pre-conferences, observations, incremental walkthroughs, and post conferences. When the observation process is completed in a trusted and supportive manner the entire progression becomes a foundational place for understanding, sharing, and growth for all involved.

Here are some tips on getting the most from your pre and post conference.

Tips for a Successful Pre-Conference

  1. Have a prepared list of questions for the observee to complete before the conference.
  2. Be sure to ask what the teacher would like help/support with, even if the question is written down.
  3. Look at the stated objectives and ensure that is what the instructional plan is actually focused on throughout the lesson. If not, revise the objectives together.
  4. Be sure the observers have the complete context of the lesson. Talk about what came before, what is coming next.
  5. If possible, hold the conference in the classroom where the instruction will take place. It will allow both parties to feel more comfortable when it comes time for the lesson.
  6. If this is not the first observation this year there should be a reflection back to the previous observation and any suggestions that may have been made.

A good pre-conference should be about dialogue and understanding. So, every effort to make it as conversational as possible with a good dialogue about the expectations about for the teaching and learning for the lesson will help tremendously.

Tips for a Successful Post-Conference

  1. Prepare questions for a reflection. Have this teacher fill it out. The administrator should also look at those questions so they know what the teachers have been asked to reflect on. This can serve as the foundational basis for the conversation.
  2. To ensure the success of the post conference and to help build an atmosphere of trust the administrator should begin and complete post conference with an affirming statement about the teacher and/or the lesson.
  3. Hold the post conference as quickly as you can but never the same day. Having a night to reflect on things will benefit both parties. Try not to let more than 2 days pass, if possible, so that everything is still fresh in the participant’s head.
  4. The observer should provide evidence, both good and bad, and it should be as specific as possible, tagging evidence to domains, or indicators when possible.
  5. Discuss, and embrace, what went well and why you think it went well. There is much to be learned from success.
  6. Don’t evaluate the class, the observation is a chance to talk about the teaching and learning. Rather, describe situations or talk about choices made throughout the lesson. Save any discussion about the class and the students for another time.
  7. If there is something that needs to be improved, the administrator should point it out specifically. The observers should be prepared to offer suggestions and resources that will help. However, once the area for improvement is noted there should be a dialogue about how to improve it. Don’t be afraid to brainstorm together. The best ideas come from good communication.

State and local mandates on the length and frequency of observations may change over time but what does not change is that good teaching is difficult.

To learn how OnCourse Evaluate facilitates a healthy staff evaluation environment that supports all of the tips and tricks in this blog, contact us today!

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