Thursday, June 18, 2009

End of the Year Evaluations and Evaluators

We, as teachers, and our children, as students, work hard throughout our required 180 days to teach and learn what we choose and what is required. Most of us (that I know) even put in more than 180 days each year.

Therefore, when it comes time for the end-of-the-year evaluation, you're feeling, (at least I do), like you want someone to let you and your children know that it was worth it, that what you did was of interest to your evaluator and not just something to be glanced off and simply checked off on a check-off sheet. That's what our end-of-the-year evaluations have felt like for the past four years.

Our first two years, we had an evaluator who took her time looking at the portfolios that we presented to her. She took the time to get to know the boys and their strong points and interests. She made suggestions and gave us tips on things the boys may enjoy that would farther enhance those interests. In the end, however, she simply presented us with a check-off sheet that simply checked off that we had me the PA Homeschool requirements. But, we didn't feel too badly about it because of the interest she took in us otherwise.

Unfortunately, after those two years, that evaluator could no longer continue evaluating due to personal unexpected circumstances. So, we found another evaluator. However, this one did not even make sure that she had a slot for us each year. She teaches in a public school and she does homeschool evaluations at the end of each school year. She has a lot of clients and she continues to take on more without guaranteeing those already with her a slot for evaluation each year. She also charges quite a bit of money to simply glance through the portfolio and give you a check-off sheet. She does give advice, from a public school's viewpoint, making it worthless to me and a bit unnerving.

I had heard several horror stories from other people who have dealt with this evaluator as well. Too many people I knew, including me, just weren't happy with her, and it seemed to get worse every year. This year when I contacted her, she didn't even remember how many children I had.

Then a friend called who had just finished her first year homeschooling, and she had just had her first end-of-the-year evaluation. She could not have been happier with her evaluator. So, I got her evaluator's name and number from her, and I contacted this evaluator the next morning. She was even able to schedule me for this year, which I wasn't expecting, but was thrilled about.

So, I cancelled with the evaluator that I was unhappy with, and we went to the new one.

WHAT A BLESSING! She told me right from the beginning, "I am a homeschool mom too, and I am on your side, not the school district's side. No one knows your children better than you do, so I will trust what you tell me." She also told me that she keeps all of her records and she said she will even write the high school transcripts for me and help me figure out how many credits we complete each year. She spoke with both of the boys and asked them what they liked best about this year, what kind of books they like to read and what their favorite book is.

Then she said she would be typing up her letters and she would mail them to me. She doesn't just give a check-off sheet, and she doesn't cost as much as the last evaluator!

So, when it comes to evaluators, make sure you find one that you are comfortable with and that you feel you can trust and who will be willing to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. That will make your homeschooling years much easier and less stressful.

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