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Teacher Self-Evaluation as Part of the Formal Teacher Evaluation Process

Module by: Arthur Ebert. E-mail the author

Summary: Teacher Self-Evaluation as Part of the Formal Teacher Evaluation Process

Teacher Self-Evaluation as Part of the Formal Teacher Evaluation Process

Arthur Ebert

According to Freidburg (1987), "the usual model of feedback to secondary school teachers is provided by an administrator who may visit one of the teacher's six classrooms for an hour once, twice, or with luck, three of four times a year."  The problem with this model is that "classroom observation alone does not guarantee good evaluation" (Stronge & Ostrander, 1997).  What more can be done, because "administrators are expected to be instructional leaders, but little time remains in the operating schedule of the typical school to allow teachers to grow through any reasonable supervisory model" (Freiberg, 1987).  How then can evaluation systems be designed that encourage professional learning and ensure the quality of teaching, as stressed by Danielson (2000), while fitting within the context of a school administrator's day to day responsibilities?  The answer to this question may lie in the principles of adult learning.  "The principles of adult learning show that when people use self-assessment and self-directed inquiry in professional development, they are more likely to sustain their learning, in more disciplined ways, than when outsiders impose professional development requirements" (Danielson, 2000).  It therefore appears likely that teacher evaluation models best encourage meaningful professional growth, and fit within the time constraints of school administrators, when teacher self-evaluations are embedded within the formal process.

There are a myriad of benefits when teachers self-evaluate.   According to Siedow (1981), "teachers who self-evaluate become self-monitors in an effort to improve the quality of classroom instruction, while providing data for the evaluation of their own effectiveness."  The act of self-monitoring, with an emphasis on data collection and improvement of instruction, is done with little to no investment of time by the school administrator.  This then affords the teacher the opportunity and motivation to grow, while freeing up the supervisor to deal with other aspects of managing and leading the school.

On the other hand, teacher evaluation models that rely solely on formal and mandated supervisory observation systems find an increasing level of tension between school administrators and teachers (Freiberg, 1987).  This tension diminishes the relationship between the teacher and administrator, which can lead to teachers not taking seriously the professional recommendations of their supervisors.  Furthermore, school administrators find it difficult to have sufficient time to satisfy all other requirements of their job when solely responsible for the data collection, observation, evaluation, and goal setting as related to the teacher evaluation process.

Koehler (1990) asserts that, "teacher self-evaluation results in ownership of performance."  When teachers take ownership of their performance they come to the realization that they are in control of, and are responsible for, the teaching and learning that occurs in their classroom.  Additionally, they have a clear understanding of their own professional strengths and weaknesses.  This clear understanding can then guide them in determining how they will grow as educators.       

Teacher self-evaluations need not replace supervisor observations, but instead supplement them.  "Teachers are more willing to engage in follow-up professional growth activities, and to perceive supervisors as help-mates in the process, when teacher self-assessments are incorporated into observation reports" (Koehler, 1990).  This shared methodology preserves accountability and strengthens the bond between teacher and administrator, while further bestowing ownership and voice to the teacher throughout the evaluation process.

Professional development, as a product of traditional teacher evaluation processes, many times results in teachers being sent to a conference or workshop thought to be meaningful by their supervisor.  Williams (2012) reinforces the commonplace of this traditional approach to teacher professional development when she says, "Principal observes teacher for 50 minutes.  Principal completes checklist.  Principal tells teacher what she needs to work on."  In the end, this rarely leads to any meaningful change in professional practice for teachers, and more than likely leaves teachers feeling cynical about the process.

Having said that, the participation in professional development that positively impacts teaching and learning is the true measure of the effectiveness for any teacher evaluation process.   "When teachers select their own "problem" to be solved, their own project to pursue, they devote greater energy to it than if someone else has chosen the issue" (Danielson, 2000).  Imagine a school where professional development was pursued, initiated, and inspired by teachers.  Evidence of this practice is described below by Danielson:

Some newly developed evaluation systems require that teachers conduct a self assessment, establish professional growth goals, and participate in a study group with colleagues to pursue a topic of common interest.  Then, in addition to classroom observations, teachers are asked to submit evidence of their professional skill, in the form of planning documents, samples of student work, and other evidence of their professionalism. Assembling and selecting these documents require deep reflection on practice; describing them to an administrator engages a teacher in professional conversation (2000).

Danielson goes on to say that "quality assurance and professional learning compliment each other, but only when carefully designed" (2000). Through careful design, it then appears that teacher self-evaluations greatly enhance professional practice when integrated with traditional teacher evaluation  systems.

The problem with traditional teacher evaluation models is that they do not result in consistent professional growth by teachers. This is a consequence of insufficient buy-in by teachers and administrators who, due to other job responsibilities, do not have the time to exclusively mentor teachers. Teacher evaluation systems that combine the elements of traditional models with teacher self-evaluations are much more likely to produce meaningful professional growth.  This is not a widespread approach, but one that is emerging both in terms of research and practice.  The success of this model is highlighted by the respect developed between supervisor and teacher, the motivation realized through teacher ownership, and the meaningful change achieved by means of teacher reflection.


Danielson, C.,. McGreal, T. (2000). A Blueprint for Teacher Evaluation, Teacher Evaluation to Enhance ProfessionalPractice (pp. 21-31). Princeton, NJ: Education Testing Services.

Freiberg, H. (1987). Teacher Self-Evaluation and Principal Supervision. National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin, 71, 85-92 doi:10.1177/019263658707149814

Koehler, M. (1990). A Model for Supervisors: Self-Assessment in the Evaluation Process. National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin, 74, 40-44 doi:10.1177/019263659007452708

Siedow, M. (1981). Self-Evaluation for Instructional Improvement. The Clearing House, 55(4), 176-179. Retrieved from

Stronge, J.H. & Ostrander, L.P. (1997). Client surveys in teacher evaluation. Edvaluating teaching: A guide to current thinking and best practice (pp. 129-161) Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Williams, C. (2012). Teacher Evaluations Get Reconstructed. District Administration, 48(3) 36. Retrieved from http://www.district

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