Teacher evaluations play a vital role in the private and independent school application process. The data can often be the most revealing glimpse into the learning profile of a child. Between balancing classroom responsibilities and preparing insightful evaluations, teachers can easily feel overwhelmed. Sadly, this can turn writing a straightforward evaluation into an excruciating chore.
Great recommendations tell stories about the student. They describe the student’s ability to match the evaluator’s environment or situation. It is this data that is vital to the admission team. It helps application reviewers identify and assess best matches.
To alleviate teachers’ anxiety around evaluations, we’ve collected 7 tips that we think will help beat writer’s block and ensure the child’s application gets a realistic assessment.
1. Use a common lexicon.
Most independent/private schools have a common set of internal mission-appropriate words. It is extremely important to use those words in the descriptive sections of a teacher evaluation. It helps build a more consistent view of the child and how they thrived in your learning community.
2. Seek peer feedback.
No need to fret on your own! It is all too common for schools to have an official editorial process in place for teacher evaluations. Make sure to take advantage of the process. If not, create your own. Use a mentor or peer to help you craft the right message and make the necessary revisions.
3. Keep it all in perspective.
This is important, but is not the overall deciding factor in the student’s outcome. While teacher evaluations are influential, they are just one of many components in the application process. Remind yourself that your input has a strong impact and should be given your careful thought, but do not drive yourself crazy over it.
4. Consistency is key.
Nothing is worse for an admission office if you rate a child’s skill high but contradict that in your narrative section of your evaluation. Make sure these align, as it builds more weight and lends more clarity in the evaluation of the student.
5. Talk about strengths and positives (in general).
This might go without saying, but demonstrate the student’s strengths and highlight them. Evaluate your student in their best light.
6. Give anecdotal stories.
Examples and stories are a great way to show a student’s actual learning profile and genuine character. Concern yourself less with your writing style, and more on demonstrating the student’s behavior.
7. Be mindful of length.
Admission directors have to read thousands of teacher evaluations every year. While great stories are enjoyable, leave the generalizations out so you can focus on the important qualities in each student.
Rather than looking at teacher evaluations as a burden, put yourself in the student’s shoes. They are relying on your support and expertise to showcase their skills and abilities in a positive light. These evaluations help establish them as thoughtful, future leaders that grades and test scores cannot show.
The unique experience a teacher has with a student can be insightful and beneficial for admission directors in their decision-making process. Help them get the most value from your evaluation through these seven tips.
What other suggestions do you find useful when writing letters of recommendation?