Principal’s Bookshelf: Building Trust in Teacher Evaluations

Shelly M. Arneson.
Corwin Press, 2015, 118 pages.

Teacher evaluations are now at the forefront of education discussions across the United States. With a new evaluation model starting in the 2015- 2016 school year in my state, South Carolina, I was excited to read Building Trust in Teacher Evaluations. In it, Shelly M. Arneson takes an in-depth look at the topic of trust and how it can build or be a barrier to a school. She argues that developing trust is vital for educational leaders if they want to successfully and effectively evaluate teachers.

Arneson begins her book by defining trust as the willingness to be vulnerable to another person who is open, honest, reliable, and competent. The author also describes trust as having an emotional bank account with another person: The account is available for deposits that occur when someone does something that adds trust to another.

After presenting these definitions to readers, Arneson then goes in-depth about how trust should be established to make evaluation systems effective. Communication also is necessary, and should be open and allow both parties to speak, the author explains.

Throughout the book, Arneson presents many examples and scenarios on how to build trust. I was particularly interested in the chapter that discusses building relationships. Being honest, open, and providing effective feedback to teachers is identified as being crucial to effectively evaluating them. Arneson says that teachers must be given time to talk, and the evaluator must listen. Principals also must be present, both physically and mentally, when evaluating teachers.

It is such a paradigm shift to evaluate teachers these days, especially because evaluations can be linked to teacher pay. Arneson explains that principals must be up-to-date with instructional practices to increase trust and open the lines of communication. Providing support to teachers also is identified as a way to build trust.

Arneson says principals must give teachers a voice and allow them the opportunity to make decisions. This idea of shared leadership will go a long way in building trust.

Building Trust in Teacher Evaluations was an easy read and was a constant reminder for me that to build trust, a leader must first build relationships with their staff.

Reviewed by Allen Fain, principal of Pickens Elementary School in Pickens, South Carolina. NAESP MEMBER


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