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The Tree of Accountability: Using Evaluation to Promote Growth



Teachers are a pillar of our world. They help to build, empower, and inspire the youth, which is, ultimately, our future. As supervisors, it is pertinent that we ensure educators are personally responsible and accountable, especially, since their actions have an incredible impact on the students, parents, community, and world around them. Honest and just supervisor evaluations will not only support teachers, but their entire circle of influence. It is thus pertinent that supervisors have the necessary tools to evaluate effectively as well as create an entire culture based around it.


There are many elements to consider when analyzing employee performance. This includes their personal performance as well as the effect these actions have on those around them, both of which benefit from a present, helpful supervisor.


To more aptly understand the interconnectedness of an employee’s actions and performance, we can use the metaphor of a tree. A tree is a beautiful, living organism that is greatly connected with the world around it. A tree roots and experiences its own growth, while giving oxygen to the world around it. What and how much it exudes to its surroundings is influenced by the amount of nutrients it receives. Everything is interconnected, just as in organizations.



How to Maintain a Healthy Foundation


The tree itself is the base, it is comparable to how the teacher is the foundation of their classroom. There are four elements that are important to take into account when working with a teacher and evaluating their overall performance. They are as follows:


  1. Performance: Determining whether an employee upholds the standards given to them.

  2. Accountability: Maintaining regular evaluations and recordings of employee’s aforementioned performance.

  3. Classroom observation: Making objective observations of the teacher within their classroom.

  4. Evaluation: Analyzing the regular observations and evaluations to understand patterns and solutions, when necessary.



The Interconnected Influence


Furthering our analogy to a tree, we can compare the oxygen trees emanate to the effect a teacher’s actions has on their environment. This next part addresses the areas, individuals, and groups possibly impacted by a teacher’s performance and how you can evaluate a teacher’s actions based upon their consequent reactions.


  1. Student information: It is important to evaluate the productivity and success of students. A student’s performance is greatly correlated with their teacher’s performance. However, it is important to keep in mind any extenuating circumstances that may affect a student’s success.

  2. Peer and parent observation: A teacher not only influences their students, but their peers and the parents of these students. It is important to regularly review how a teacher affects these persons as it will ultimately impact the organization and surrounding community.

  3. Administrative factors: It is poignant to note whether a teacher’s presence significantly changes the organization or administration. This may include instances such as delayed reports or increased workload for supervisors and staff. On the other hand, it can also include positive transformation, which is also important to take note of.

  4. Extenuating circumstances: Just as it is necessary to note whether a student’s grades and behavior are influenced by external circumstances, it is important to lend the same grace to teachers and evaluate accordingly.



Supervisors as Sunlight


Lastly, the nutrients absorbed by a tree can be a metaphor for what a teacher is receiving from their supervisor. The following questions can help you to analyze whether your interpersonal and supervisory skills are of benefit to the teachers at your organization.

  1. Are you committed to the success of your teacher? Are you taking actions that show this commitment? For example, are you regularly communicating? Are you willing to listen, check-in, and be supportive of ideas?

  2. Do you provide assistance when remediation is needed?

  3. Are you allocating resources to aid in the teacher’s success? This can be time, supplies, and other forms of professional support.

  4. Are you encouraging? Do you give consistent feedback? Is it kind, compassionate, and honest?



Accountability as Co-Creation


In accordance with the metaphor of the “tree of accountability,” it is important to consider the concept of giving and receiving. As much as it is a teacher’s responsibility to uphold their standards and actions in alignment with the ideals of your organization, it is equally, if not more, important that as supervisors we provide teachers with the skills and communication to know how to be self-accountable. For each person to be able to give their best, they must equally receive support. We cannot give what we do not have. As supervisors, it is our job to show this compassionate support- we are the sunlight that our teacher trees need to grow and thrive in their environment.


All of the above actions will allow you to be a professional, insightful, and proficient leader. It will allow you to evaluate your instructors but, also, to honestly review your own actions and thoughts about your employees. Conducting thorough checks of performance, and maintaining a willingness to help your teachers improve upon this performance, will ensure your organization and school is positively impactful to its members and the surrounding community. You will be a fair and fit leader who is personally, professionally, and in accordance with the law of accountability.


Together, you and your teachers can transform accountability from an admonishment, to a co-creation. Through transparent, honest communication, the organization can work together to create a willingness towards self and team responsibility. Accountability is not only for when termination is a possibility, it is a daily commitment to assess the organization as a whole and on an individual level to ensure it is functioning at its highest moral, ethical, and productive standards. McGrath’s SUCCEED with TRUE-SPEAK will help you lead thriving teachers with authentic interpersonal and relational standards while also adhering to the standards of the law. It will help you to distinguish between your rights as a supervisor to supervise and that of your teacher’s rights during evaluation procedures. Overall, SUCCEED with TRUE-SPEAK will help your organization befriend accountability as a team-building quality that ensures all interconnected participants are happy, healthy, responsible, and of the highest standard.

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