The formal appraisal system for teachers in Texas is called PDAS, the Professional Development and Appraisal System. The main portion of this appraisal is a 45-minute visit by the appraiser. Today was my day to be PDASed. Even after all the years I've been in the classroom, I still development the teacher version of test anxiety every time.
The students were doing a small-group lab activity today related to elastic forces using a Hooke's Law apparatus. After a brief discussion, I turned them loose to work in their groups, and I became the "guide on the side" answering questions, providing hints and suggestions, and checking for accuracy and understanding. My appraiser, an Assistant Principal, sat in with one of the lab groups for the entire period, which I think is a good thing since she was able to talk with the students and see first-hand what they were doing. When she left, the only comment she made was, "I can't believe how crowded it is in your classroom." I have 36 student desks in a classroom designed for 24, and being crowded is a way of life for my students.
Now, the waiting begins. Our appraisal system is housed in an Eduphoria database, so my appraiser has to enter all of her comments and notations into that database. When she is done, I will get an email so I can go in and read through her comments and see my overall rating. Our summative evaluation does not occur until the latter part of the spring semester, but this phase constitutes the biggest portion of the overall appraisal, so I'm relieved that I have this part behind me.
Of course, there will be random walk-throughs (affectionately called drive-bys) during the rest of the year, but I have no problem with those since they always catch me teaching. That's a no-brainer for me since it's, like, my job, but I guess there are more than a few teachers at my school who don't exactly teach every day of the school year. I came from a private-sector philosophy of, "Do your job or lose your job." That sentiment doesn't seem to be very pervasive in public education.