Across the country, there’s been a push to better measure teacher effectiveness. This has resulted in several new evaluation systems (including Danielson and Marzano) being developed and implemented in states across the country. While speech-language pathologists certainly aren’t teachers, we are often evaluated either on the same evaluation tool as classroom teachers, or on slightly modified ones, supposed to be tailored for speech-language pathologists.
One problem I encountered after my district switched to the Danielson model is that I couldn’t find much about what an SLP should know about and prepare for if being evaluated on one of these models. So today, I’d like to share some of what I have learned!
The first, most important step is to get a copy of whatever evaluation tool your employer will be using, and read through it. (And yes, this can be overwhelming when it is 20 or 30 pages long!) Look at the examples needed for the highest scores and the lowest scores. Take general notes as you go.
What you really want to concentrate on is the general areas you will be rated on. Some likely areas include:
- Overall knowledge of speech-language pathology
- Therapy planning
- Therapy routines and behavior management
- Assessment and progress monitoring
- Ability to interpret assessment information and write appropriate goals
- Interaction with other faculty/special ed team/staff
- Overall organization
- Parent communication
- Professional development
One thing that several models (including Danielson) suggest is making a portfolio of artifacts to help display what you are doing as an SLP. (I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word artifacts, I think of archeologists digging in the dirt! But here, we’re talking about evidence of how you meet the criteria in the evaluation tool.) But what should you include???
Here’s where your notes come in handy. How many of the areas covered by the evaluation tool can you explain ahead of time? Your evaluation will likely only last 30-60 minutes, and there’s no way someone can observe everything that you do during the school day, with different students, and over the entire school year in that brief window of time. Make your administrator’s job easier - and make sure you get credit for what you already do - by addressing as much as you can ahead of time.
Here’s some examples of what I included in my portfolio.
Modified Resume - What are your actual responsibilities in your current position? About how many students do you currently have on your caseload? What grades do you work with? Are you split between schools? What are your qualifications? What degree do you have? How much experience do you have as an SLP? What additional, non-required responsibilities (committees, volunteer positions, etc.) do you have? Do you do anything SLP-related in your spare time?
(Yes, administrators probably could spend the time and look at least some of this information up, but it is so much easier to have this at a glance!)
Classroom Setup - This is a great place to include pictures! Show how you have designed your learning environment. Explain why you have the set up that you do. (And yes, this counts even if you have to share a space, or don’t have an assigned space of your own. Do you have a traveling cart? Explain what you carry in it and why. Talk about how you deal with your space constraints.) Do your bulletin boards have a purpose other than being decorative? Explain here!
Routines - What does your typical therapy session look like? Why do you do things a certain way?
Behavior Management - How do you set up your therapy sessions for success? How do you avoid, re-direct, or deal with problem behaviors? Do you have a reward system in place?
Assessment - Here, I listed how many evaluations and re-evaluations I have completed this year and the past couple of years. I also estimated how long each evaluation takes me to administer to the student, and then about how long the report takes me to analyze and write. This is a good place to include a recent evaluation report you have written (with the identifying information blacked out).
Progress Monitoring/Data Collection/Organization - Here, I included information about how I monitor progress with my students (both with regular data collection and my progress monitoring tools).
I made copies of 2 students’ progress monitoring record forms to include in this section, and included some of my reflections on sticky notes that were attached. These showed how much growth these students made with these goals, and also how the data is informing my therapy. (For example, my progress monitoring showed that my student working on irregular past tense verbs is doing great with straight drill of this skill, but has significant difficulty judging whether given sentences are correct or not. This tells me that I need to work on higher level activities that have the irregular past tense verbs in more natural contexts.)
I also included examples of my weekly data sheets, since this is how I take data on a daily basis. I also included a bit about how I store all of this information (for me, it is stored all in one master binder).
Professional Development - What conferences/seminars have you attended over the last year or two? Do you have plans to attend a certain conference later this year? Do you belong to any professional groups (on Facebook, Linked-In, etc.)?
Parent Communication - How do you communicate with parents? Do you send home folders? Do you have a communication log? Do you have a master list of all parent contact info? Do you send home newsletters or homework?
Now that you have created your evidence portfolio, how should you put it together? A small binder is probably the easiest option, although a professional report folder would work, too. Of course, I like things to be beautiful, so I made this pretty cover for mine.
I hope this information helps you prepare for your evaluation this year! Looking for more information? Check out this post for how I chose goals for my professional growth plan for the Danielson model.