The core element of the New Teacher Induction Program is the performance appraisal process. All new teachers will have two performance appraisals within the first 12 months of their position as part of NTIP. For some, the thought of this can be overwhelming and daunting, even if you’re a confident and experienced teacher.
There are a total of sixteen competencies that the TPA process evaluates. Experienced teachers are evaluated in all sixteen areas every five years (something to worry about later for us!). For new teachers, the TPA focuses only on these eight:
- Teachers demonstrate commitment to the well-being and development of all pupils.
- Teachers are dedicated in their efforts to teach and support pupil learning and achievement.
- Teachers treat all pupils equitably and with respect.
- Teachers provide an environment for learning that encourages pupils to be problem solvers, decision makers, lifelong learners, and contributing members of a changing society
- Teachers know their subject matter, the Ontario curriculum, and education- related legislation.
- Teachers use their professional knowledge and understanding of pupils, curriculum, legislation, teaching practices, and classroom management strategies to promote the learning and achievement of their pupils.
- Teachers communicate effectively with pupils, parents, and colleagues.
- Teachers conduct ongoing assessment of pupils’ progress, evaluate their achievement, and report results to pupils and their parents regularly.
The TPA process involves the following components:
- the pre-observation meeting
- a classroom observation (for new teachers, there are two of these!)
- a post-observation meeting
- a summative report that includes a rating of the teacher’s overall performance
Preparing for the pre-observation meeting and classroom observations will take some thought and time, but the best advice I can share – as someone who is knee-deep in the process right now – is that being prepared is the best thing you can do. Aside from having confidence in yourself, of course!
The Pre-Observation Meeting
The teacher and principal must have a pre-observation meeting to prepare for the classroom observation component of the appraisal. The principal must record the date of the pre-observation meeting in the summative report.
The principal and the teacher use the pre-observation meeting to:
- make certain that the expectations for the appraisal process are clearly understood;
- promote a collegial atmosphere in advance of the classroom observation;
- identify exactly what is expected during the lesson to be observed;
- discuss the teacher’s plan for the classroom observation period;
- identify the expectations for student learning that are the focus of the lesson;
- discuss the unique qualities of the teacher’s class of students;
- discuss how the teacher’s performance will be assessed, including a review of the competencies that will form the basis of the teacher’s performance appraisal;
- establish procedures in advance;
- set the date and time for the classroom observation
This meeting is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to your administrator how you meet all of the competencies being evaluated. This is when you can portray who you are as a teacher and share information that your administrator might not be able to observe during their relatively short classroom observation. It’s almost like a show and tell, and the best way to prepare for this is to go into this meeting with a variety of evidence of your practice. Prior to my pre-observation meeting, my administrator provided me with some ideas of things that I might consider bringing to the meeting. These things included:
- your day book including a record of your daily plans dating back to the beginning of the current teaching assignment
- evidence of long range planning
- notes on how you are meeting the competencies that might not be observed during your classroom observation (for example, your use of technology, how assessment drives your instruction or how equity is evident in your classroom)
- notes in your involvement in activities in the school or the system that address the competencies, yet might not be observable during classroom observations
- notes on your contact and communication with parents
- all of your student assessment and evaluation records from the beginning of your assignment
- samples of assessment methods and activities that you have used in your class
- samples of resources being used in the classroom this year
Preparation for this meeting felt like the most intensive part of the process so far, for me personally. I wanted to have enough evidence to demonstrate all of who I am as a teacher – my pedagogy, my relationships, my practice and my professional growth. It did offer a great opportunity to step back, look at my teaching practice and do a lot of self evaluating (before the actual evaluation!).
The Classroom Observations
To assess teachers’ skills, knowledge, and attitudes, each appraisal must include at least one classroom observation. For the purposes of the performance appraisal, each teacher must be observed in an instructional setting. With the exception of the teaching assignments summarized below, the classroom observation involves a visit by the principal to the teacher’s classroom. For teachers such as physical education teachers, special education teachers, or guidance counsellors, the ordinary teaching environment would include, respectively, the gymnasium, a regular classroom where the special education teacher is working with particular students, or a guidance office or small-group setting where the counsellor is interacting with students.
In my case, the observations are taking place in my classroom. Usually, your administrator will want to see one lesson in math and one in language if you are a homeroom teacher. I have completed my first observation in math and will have my second, in language, next week!
On the morning of your observation, you’ll hand in a lesson plan to your administrator that outlines in detail what you are planning to teach. I went back to my trusty old teacher’s college lesson plan template (brought back some memories!) as it reminded me of all the important and helpful information to record and consider.
It’s wise to include written evidence of how you plan to differentiate and which assessment indicators you will look for throughout the lesson. This takes away the guessing for your administrator and shows that you consider these things in your planning consistently.
The best advice that I received when trying to decide what to teach for my observation was not to try anything new or crazy. Follow your regular routines, engage your students in processes they are familiar with and work with content that they have likely had some exposure to already. This takes the pressure off of you and your students and increases the likelihood of having a smooth, successful lesson take place.
I decided to teach a three-part lesson plan for my lesson as I felt it demonstrated my strongest aspects as a teacher. My class has fantastic consolidation discussions and math talks and I wanted my administrator to see that. Choose a lesson that will demonstrate both your and your students’ best features as teachers and learners.
I have yet to have the Post-Observation Meeting with my administrator, but I am feeling very confident and pleased with how my first observation went! Of course, no lesson ever goes exactly how you plan it but this only provided me with the chance to demonstrate my flexibility and adaptability as a teacher.
After my observation next week, in language, I will meet for the post-observation meeting and will have a chance to look at my Summative Evaluation. I’ll be sure to post again and share my experiences with the consolidation of this process so far!
For more information about TPA for New Teachers, click here.