Here are some helpful hints on improving those results.
#1. Keep a "brag list."
Make a running list on your computer desktop or in a document you can easily access. When possible, back it up with any evidence you can. Sometimes it's a certificate for some professional development, a printed out tweet referring to the event, or an email from collaborators to have in your documentation. (You can send them a thank you email, detailing the collaboration, and print that) Every time you do something that goes a bit beyond your normal routine, add it to the list. When May or June rolls around, you may forget all the wonderful things you have done that year.
- Working with a colleague on a lesson
- Sharing supplies (collaboration)
- Getting grants or donations
- Displays or exhibitions
- Students that win awards for what you teach
- Professional development you have participated in or lead
- Volunteer time in committees
- Classes you have taken
- Awards you have won
- Articles you have published (School Arts Magazine is always looking!)
#2. ALWAYS be prepared for an observation.
Though not all observations are announced, be ready. I have THIS one-page print out I keep in my top drawer. If an administrator walks in, I take out this paper. I have been teaching now for nearly 30 years. I know what I am doing, but when the principal walks in, I can still get a little flustered. This little, one-sided guide, helps me stay focused and remember the details.
Backwards design is where we see the hopeful result first, then figure out how get there. To break down the goal into little parts, and design a path to success.
Evaluations are often based on a rubric. If you are going to be evaluated based on a rubric, you have every right to see that rubric at the beginning of the year. Look it over and see how you can get rated at the level you wish to achieve. If you have always been getting "meets expectations" on evaluations, but feel you have done better than that, be ready to back it up with evidence. (The true purpose of the "brag list.")
The observations help list was born of backwards design. On one observation, years ago, I was rated lower than "meets expectations" because I neglected to repeat the learning target verbally. It did not matter that the students were involved directly with the learning target all period, but the rubric stated that the teacher repeats the learning target to "meet expectations." I scored well in all the other parts, my observations was great in all other aspects, negating the small deduction to my "score," but it bothered me.
So I copied the rubric and designed my helper list to focus on "exceeding expectations" in all categories. When I don't exceed, I at least meet expectations, and I am good with that. My evaluations however did improve overall, so it has been a help, even for this seasoned teacher. Your rubric may be different than mine, but others have found this list helpful.
#4. Routine is your friend.
There are items in evaluations that you are expected to do on a daily basis. For my school, we have to project/write our daily "learning target" in a conspicuous place and address it several times. I am not sure how actually helpful it is, but it is required. Be sure to do your daily housekeeping, like targets, or bell ringers, or whatever is required so that if you have an unannounced observation, you're good to go.
#5. Observe the best.
Speak with your supervisor or administrator and find out who has consistently high evaluation marks. It does not matter what subject they teach, observing their classroom procedures can be a real eye opener. Maybe how they arrange seating, record tardiness, speak to their students, address discipline, arrange their class time into chunks... There is value in observing your high performing colleagues. Some schools may actually allow a sub to come in for you while you observe another class. (Mine does, but I know that's rare) If you must do it on your own time, it's well worth it. Note this observation on your "brag list" to prove you are working to improve your teaching practices!
#6. Be a show-off.
As an art teacher, you are in a unique position to "show-off" what your students do best. Be sure you change displays frequently, and do a district show annually. I try to do at least a few big projects like THIS ONE to get everyone's attention. This lets it be known that you are an active member of the team. If it's something really awesome, write up a press release and see if your principal will pass it on to the local newspaper or television station. Share it on social media, whatever can be done to get noticed is important. When cuts come to districts, art is often the first target to get hit. If they love your program and know about it, you will have many people support your bid to stay.
If you work too as an artist, share that press at your year-end evaluation. When I win awards, I document those, and share with my supervisor.