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Aligning Educator Evaluation Systems with a Portrait of an Educator

New Hampshire’s School Administrative Unit 16 (SAU-16) comprises seven smaller school districts and eight school boards around Exeter, NH. In 2020, SAU-16 brought in teachers, paraeducators, principals, and other stakeholders to begin imagining a companion Portrait of an Educator. 

SAU-16 leaders recognized that without the right evaluative tools and support, the Portrait of an Educator would be just another piece of paper, so they decided to move to an asset-based evaluation system. Now, teachers develop their own growth goals – a knowledge goal focusing on pedagogy and a skill or mindset goal based on where they want to grow professionally. 

Once a year, an assigned administrator observes educators, and twice per year, they can choose among peers, students, community members, and others to conduct observations. SAU-16 trained administrators in appreciative inquiry and framing their feedback through a positive lens. Teachers were asked, “How can this feedback help you grow?” and then challenged to create their growth plan. Educators complete growth reflection sheets during the year and submit artifacts to document their progress. 

Teachers indicate they appreciate the collaborative nature of the process and that observing, sharing, and having rich conversations improves their practice and sense of connectedness. They also understand the relevance of the growth process to their teaching. Teachers report that having a choice in naming their goals, choosing their collaborators, and creating their vehicles for growth is empowering and helps them tailor their professional development to their needs.