Some principals have made improvements on the official process.

Linda Sienkiewicz, principal at Audubon Elementary in Roscoe Village, says she tries to visit classrooms for an entire lesson of 30 to 40 minutes, although that time frame is not required. She also has a conference beforehand, also not required, and asks the teacher for a focus area in which they would like particular assistance.

She says, for example, “‘You might not be aware of whether you’re teaching higher-order thinking skills.’ I can keep tabs on that for a teacher. I try to make the whole procedure meaningful for both of us, as well as meeting the requirements of the evaluation process.” She adds, “I’m not sure that I would want the official process to require any more steps because I think that would take more time away from anything else I’d want to do.”

Cydney Fields, principal at Ray Elementary in Hyde Park, says she has drawn up her own evaluation form in addition to the contractually specified check-sheet. “Usually, I’ll ask the teacher to fill out some kind of self-reflection about the lessons, and we’ll use that as a basis of discussion,” she says. “If my goal is to improve instruction, I need to use a format that is going to make that possible.”

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