Staff Workshop Topic: Evaluating Your Program
An in-depth look at your program from many perspectives can give teachers and directors important new insights.
- Grades: Early Childhood, Infant, PreK–K, 1–2
Instructions for the Workshop Leader:
1 What You Need to Know
This workshop consists of two parts: these leadership instructions and a handout for the participating staff members.
2 What to Do in Advance
At least one week prior to your staff workshop, distribute the handout titled "Perspectives on Early Childhood Programs" by Lilian Katz (see "Perspectives on Early Childhood Programs"). Explain that everyone should read the article carefully and thoughtfully before you meet.
Ask teachers to think about and come prepared to discuss one aspect of their teaching this year that they are proud of and another in which they feel they need help. Explain that they can focus on their classroom, their relationship with parents, or their relationship with colleagues.
3 Using the Handout
Discuss the handout and the teachers' reactions to it. What new perspectives did they gain from reading the handout? Did they find any of the perspectives difficult to accept? Did they agree or disagree with the questions posed for each perspective? Did they think of questions to ask that were not included in the reading? Did the handout help the staff think about your program's strengths and any weaknesses?
Ask the participants to share their successes and problem areas. On a sheet of chart paper, record everyone's responses under one of these headings: "In the classroom," "With parents," and "With colleagues." Then circle the responses that teachers consider problem areas so that they'll be easy to identify as the workshop discussion continues.
Talk about the responses and any patterns. Note the columns where the circles appear. Are they mainly in one category? Does any pattern emerge across the program? For example, are successes mainly "In the classroom," while the "With parents" category has the majority of the circles? Where is more support needed? Is that support needed for individuals or across the program?
Ask whether anyone would like to add any other successes or problem areas to the list. As the discussion unfolds, teachers may think of additional comments they'd like to incorporate. Encourage any and all ideas.
4 Questions to Ask
This year, have we been able to foster an environment in which children were active learners, encouraged and supported? Did we provide a safe environment for all children? Did we meet the special emotional, cognitive, and developmental goals we had for each child? Did we work successfully with children with special needs? Was each child treated as an individual and given appropriate challenges? Did we always know how to engage and work with each child? Have there been times when we were uncertain in our interactions with a particular child? Did we know where to turn for help if unsure of an approach?
Have we encouraged parents to participate in our classroom/school activities? Are there some relationships that are not entirely satisfactory? Why? Have we made efforts to understand and respect cultural differences? Were there efforts we should have made individually or collectively to encourage more parent involvement in the classroom? In the center or school?
Are our relationships with colleagues, individually and across the program, as strong as they can be? Are we consistently helpful to one another? Do we readily share information and resources? Are we each open to asking for help or training when we need it?
Encourage teachers to set short-term goals. What short-term goals would help you individually or as a team, make necessary improvements before the school year ends? How can teachers encourage each other's successes? Could one teacher share copies of successful science activities? Could another lead a discussion on successful parent-involvement strategies? Are there resources or activities that some teachers might share that could directly address other teachers' needs?
Form a task force to set long-term goals. Ask for staff volunteers to examine current program goals and how they're now being met. What obstacles need to be overcome and how? What areas need to be strengthened for next year? Discuss ways teachers can improve, such as having mentoring buddies, setting aside time to visit other classrooms or programs, and selecting representatives to attend conferences or seminars and share what they've learned.
Establish an evaluation process. Assign a committee to create an evaluation form that you will send to parents to seek feedback on how they view your program and how it might be improved. Also be sure there is a system in place for the director to evaluate staff each year, for the staff to evaluate the director, and for the staff to evaluate their own progress.
Continue to share successes and problems in staff meetings. At your weekly or monthly meetings, ask teachers to bring in examples of what's working well for them in the classroom, with parents, or with one another. Encourage staff to be open about any problems they're having and to offer suggestions in a spirit of collaboration.