Ed Eval TIG Week: A People Vision by Amy Zilbar

Hi! I’m Amy Zilbar and as a veteran elementary school principal, evaluation is a large part of my role as the instructional leader of the school.  In my post, I will touch on some of the things that I value as a leader that I hope will shed some light on how education evaluators can work with local agencies in a collaborative fashion. I enjoy collaborating with teachers and looking at ways to improve instruction in order to reach every student.  What I often find as principal is that no matter how collaborative I want to be, the “principal hat” is always on.  However, my two key learnings have been:

  1. People, people, people
  2. What is your vision (your “why”)

People, people, people

In any organization, getting to know the people, their strengths, and the things they enjoy allows you to see things through many lenses and this helps move the organization forward.  I work in a school with an amazing community of educators, students, and parents where we solve problems collectively through problem solving protocols and build personal connections. Taking time to recognize and appreciate their contributions is important because they ARE valued.

What is your vision?

This is at the forefront of many educational leadership research and resources.

Rad Resource:

Simon Sinek’s “Leaders Eat Last” and “Start With Why.” The first step for any supervisor is to clearly AND frequently communicate their why.  It drives every decision and every system aligns to it.  Our why is simple and was created together: “Guide Learners to Success.”  It is what we do every day and we all work to ensure that each and every student is successful.  Teachers are also learners and we want to be successful teachers that inspire and engage students everyday

Even though a supervisor will always be the supervisor, to be a true collaborative thought partner, you need relationships and a clear why.

How feedback and suggestions are received during evaluations depend on the relationships that have been established and that everyone knows your why. During the last 14 years as the official and final evaluator of teachers, I have learned that evaluation is only one component.

Rad Resource:

“Thanks for the Feedback” by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen. They share three forms of feedback:

  1. Evaluative
  2. Appreciative
  3. Coaching

It would not be sufficient to offer teachers feedback once a year during their formal evaluation. Both myself and our assistant principal provides specific, appreciative feedback each week, so every teacher knows what we saw that was powerful to student learning and why it is appreciated.

A formal evaluation may only happen once a year, but it is not just a score, it is a reflection on the feedback, practice, and impact throughout the year.  It provides reciprocal feedback to the evaluator on what tweaks might be needed.  It is a true partnership and can be a positive and collaborative experience for both!

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Ed Eval TIG Week with our colleagues in the PreK-12 Educational Evaluation Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our Ed Eval TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “Ed Eval TIG Week: A People Vision by Amy Zilbar”

  1. Hi Amy,

    I enjoyed reading your post. Viewing evaluation from a principal’s perspective, as I am used to being on the receiving end of it, was interesting. My biggest takeaway from what you talked about is the importance of relationships when collaborating and the impact that they have on feedback reception.

    I can imagine with the amount of effort that you put into the “people, people, people”, that it can be quite a bit easier to foster an open environment where staff are more willing to be receptive to evaluations and feedback.

    I had a principal that did a similar strategy to the “appreciative” feedback, where he made an effort to come into our classrooms, once a month, and tell us what he noticed and how he thought it was benefiting students. I often think that teaching can be a bit of a lonely occupation. It can be tough to recognize what positive and powerful things you are doing to help students grow when you are in a room solo, but those emails not only made me feel good about my teaching, they also made me more comfortable having someone watching my teaching, and more willing to talk about practices in the classroom.

    I was wondering what you would do if you had teachers who were reluctant to have different types of evaluations happening? For instance, one of my relatives is a principal and I know she has said she has to be very careful of what she says to certain teachers if they are not on an “evaluation year”. Because even talking about what she has seen in the classroom (even positive things) can be turned around because she is not allowed to “evaluate” them that year.
    As someone who is looking to move into a consultation or administration role in the next five years, I want to make sure that I build relationships where others feel valued, so thank you for your thoughts and your resource.

    Bailey Wilson

  2. Arielle Rodriguez

    Great advise mentioned here! Providing constant and meaningful feedback to teachers is a practice that should be done more often in schools. People want to know when they are doing a job well and most enjoy being appreciated for it. As a leader, recognizing the contributions of your staff is beneficial for those they are serving, the students. As educators we are constantly assess the students for their comprehension of the material. It makes perfect sense that we should also be evaluating and improving the instruction that we provide to the students.

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