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Reflecting on the Role of Evaluator During This Global Pandemic by Miranda Yates

Dear AEA Community, 

Today will begin a series of Saturday blogs that provide a space for us to reflect on and exchange information about our practice as evaluators in response to today’s global pandemic. This week we will address how to adapt our roles to the needs of the service providers with whom we work. Next week, we will look at tools and best practices for educators and group facilitators who are moving to online platforms. On April 4th, we will talk about self-care during these trying times.  

It’s common to feel alone, anxious, and even fearful during moments of unprecedented change such as this. The greatest service we can provide ourselves and those with whom we work is remembering that change also creates space for innovation and new possibilities to take root. Our AEA community has served as a source of inspiration, support, and collaboration for decades, and it is my hope that these blogs spark those same conversations and collaborations with one another now as well.  

Wishing you all good health, 

Elizabeth DiLuzio, AEA365 Curator and Editor 

Hello from New York City. I’m Miranda Yates from Good Shepherd Services, a multi-service youth and family development organization. Like many of you, we as internal evaluators have been scrambling to adapt to the ever-shifting and urgent demands placed upon our non-profit by the COVID-19 pandemic.  In response, we’d like to start a learning community for sharing tips, tools, and ideas.  Below are some highlights based on our experiences over the past couple weeks. Please feel free to add your own in the comments section below.

A few practical tools and ideas for evaluators  

  • Listen to people on the front lines and be open to pivoting as needed.
  • Focus on identifying and responding to the pressing needs that are emerging.  
  • Perform work with urgency. If program staff need something, make all efforts to get it to them that day.  
  • Anticipate needs. While a general offer of help is excellent, concrete proposed ideas of what you could do are even better. At this moment, many people are not in a space to connect the ways that data and evaluation might help with managing the immediate crisis and with laying more solid groundwork for what is to come.  
    • Example: When we heard schools were likely closing and staff were concerned about keeping in contact with participants, we generated individual program reports of contact information from our database for program staff to use as a starting point. 
  • Offer up your project management, communication and facilitation skills for whatever is needed to help organize efforts. 
    • Example: We created an Excel document to track shifts in our program services. We included columns to monitor staffing, services still available, questions for funders, etc. You can find a template of this document here. In providing a tool, we also take the lead in helping however we can for this tool to be completed and used over the course of time.  
    • Example: Elizabeth DiLuzio helped our Chief Medicaid Officer, Joan Siegel, to create a survey form for supervisors to report the agency-wide incidence of COVID-19 among staff. You can use our form as a template in creating your own by clicking here
  • Respond to the immediate while laying groundwork for identifying and supporting needs in the long term. Keep a systems lens.  
  • Tap into available expertise and draw upon your partnerships and connections. 
    • Example: We tapped our research-practice partnership with NYU Institute for Human Development and Social Change for feedback on our data collections tools and to access technology training resources (see NYU Zoom for bite-size videos). We have also indicated the need for longer-term conversation about other ways they might help with developing alternate programming, curriculum, etc.   
  • As much as possible, share what you are learning.  

Got your own ideas and tools to share? Please post them in the comments below!  

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.

9 thoughts on “Reflecting on the Role of Evaluator During This Global Pandemic by Miranda Yates”

  1. Find food assistance, help paying bills, and other free or reduced cost programs, including new programs for the COVID-19 pandemic. Searchable by zip code, Aunt Bertha has updated its resource search platform. https://findhelp.org/ We are sharing this as a comprehensive resource for front line staff connecting with youth and families.

  2. Pingback: Evaluation, Pandemics, and Running a Small Business - The Measurement Group

  3. Thank you, really glad that this weekly Saturday series pertaining to COVID-19 is happening, and with attention to evaluators’ self-care too!

    1. Elizabeth DiLuzio

      Thanks for the encouragement, Phung. Any self-care tips that are working well for you at the moment?

      1. Sleep is #1. It’s too easy for us to sacrifice sleep in the quest to keep busy and get as much done as possible during these uncertain times. What has also been helpful is sticking to one or two news websites for a limited amount of time each day. And finally, staying in touch with family, friends, and colleagues near and far. Social (physical) distancing does not mean social isolation.

        1. Elizabeth DiLuzio

          I so appreciate your ideas, Phung, and I will be sure to include them. Take care of yourself, and feel free to reach out if you come up with any other ideas between then and now. (elizabeth.diluzio@gmail.com)

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