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Carol Ann Tomlinson on What Evaluation Should Be
(Originally titled “The Evaluation of My Dreams”)
In this Educational Leadership article, differentiation guru Carol Ann Tomlinson describes her “dream evaluator” – an administrator who would push everyone toward excellence by:
• Communicating a vision of the potential power of teaching – “It’s easier to muster the courage to change when that change is in service of labor that seems meaningful and important,” says Tomlinson.
• Mentoring – This requires knowing a lot about each teacher, knowing the content area, and caring.
• Visiting classrooms frequently – This is essential to having a multidimensional sense of what teachers are doing and how they’re doing.
• Communicating feedback clearly and respectfully – Compliments on strengths and progress are an important component of feedback.
• Pointing out areas for growth – All teachers need a specific, descriptive roadmap of next steps on where and how to become more effective.
• Being timely – Prompt feedback reduces anxiety and is important to fixing problems before the summative evaluation.
• Listening and building autonomy – “My ideal evaluator would help me construct my own options for how I might use feedback to move forward as a professional, rather than dictate next steps,” says Tomlinson. “At the same time, he or she would provide concrete support for my continuing growth. I’m not always my own best teacher; like all workers, I need structures, guidance, and coaching that are appropriate to my development.”
“The Evaluation of My Dreams” by Carol Ann Tomlinson in Educational Leadership, November 2012 (Vol. 70, #3, p. 88-89), www.ascd.org; Tomlinson can be reached at
From the Marshall Memo #460