I thrive on it. I love the seasons, re-arranging my studio annually, and re-doing my student schedule each summer and fall. The latter of course takes time but for me, the idea of never changing my lesson schedule is suffocating! LOL.
Clear start and endpoints can give a distinctive physical and mental relief and rest. When I used to be a choral director I would frequently get sick the week following school being out as my body was letting go of the stress!
The end of the school year for many independent studios is the time to take a step back and celebrate the culmination of student’s work and progress through recitals.
Not only that, but it’s the perfect time to turn our heads and reflect on the last 30-40 lessons and 4,000 plus hours of practice. Did we use our time wisely? Did the student make progress? Did they participate in any studio events? Does the student feel they put in their best effort? There are so many questions that can be pondered and progress assessed, that conducting student evaluations has become a part of my annual schedule.
My recital is always the Sunday before Memorial Day. It does get a little crazy having it that time of year, but I love the feeling of having that culminating event where the whole studio comes together to celebrate and make music.
The week following the recital, students and parents come to the student’s normal lesson time, but there is no formal lesson. We sit down and hash out the past and the future of the student’s piano studies together. (The last week of May my studio is closed for a semester break then we return for summer lessons the first week of June).
My role in that meeting time is giving the student a formal evaluation and the parent and student’s part is filling out questionnaires I give to them ahead of time. Today we’re focusing on the former.
Many teachers, after seeing my extensive tutorial on how Evernote can help you organize your studio, got a peek at my evaluation form, and have been asking if I would be willing to share. Not only am I going to share the form, but I’m going to explain in detail how I use Evernote to organize and track evaluations from year to year.
Seeing how far we’ve come is only possible if we remember where we started!
First, let me tell you that nothing is new under the sun. Through other teachers’ generosity, their ideas have helped me develop a form of my own. I would encourage you to do the same!
My rating scale was inspired by Leila Viss’s post on her weekly lesson assessments. Details for skill areas were inspired by an article in AMT magazine on assessments, and Natalie Weber’s Year-End Evaluation form she shared several years ago (which is what I used my first couple of years).
Here’s a screenshot (in 3 images) showing you what the form looks like as a note in Evernote.
*Side note – The table was cut and pasted from Excel as I don’t like how the “table” function in Evernote behaves.
Guess what? If you use Evernote, I’m going to share a public link to MY note with you! What does that mean? If you use the link, you will always see my most recent version of the note, even if I make changes at a later date. It also means you can save that note directly into YOUR Evernote account!? What, are you serious? Yes! So, now instead of having to create the note yourself, you can simply start with mine and then modify it to your needs. (Don’t worry, saving the note to your account and then making changes will not alter my note). How cool is that?!
Click here to access my Evaluation form in Evernote
A few Details
A few points regarding my form. First, as I note on the form, most students, as long as I feel we’ve had a solid year and good progress, will receive a 3. I reserve 4’s and 5’s for above and beyond. My husband, who’s in the business world as a Salesforce Administrator, receives annual evaluations. This has always been the norm in his experiences in the real world. It made sense to me so that’s what I went with. You may disagree and that’s why it’s great you can modify the form to your own needs and expectations! 🙂
Second, under the “Achievements” section, I left examples of things I would generally include.
Third, I use Piano Safari’s Mini Essay #21: Levels of Repertoire to help me determine “school grade level.” I include this because it relates to the student’s level to something they already understand. Last year I didn’t include this (because at the time I simply didn’t feel like it and sometimes I make decisions on the fly based on how I’m feeling at the moment – a flaw, I know). I had a few parents that still asked about it and were disappointed to not have it included thus the return of the grade level.
I used the Evernote web clipper (see my 5-minute tutorial) to clip the pdf from the Piano Safari website.
Now, not only is the pdf downloaded and therefore referenced under my Evernote tag, but the note captured the direct link to the pdf if I would ever need to view it online.
Duplicating and Tracking from Year to Year
Ok, next I’m about to go into how to track each student’s evaluations and save them in Evernote. This includes the use of tags. If you’re not familiar with the tagging system or why, in my opinion, it’s the best way to organize Evernote, then take a few minutes to watch my video on tagging.
Here’s what you do. First of all, notice that I’m under my “evaluations” tag. You can see that in all the circled areas. I currently have 14 notes under this tag. Right-click on your master evaluation form note title and click “Duplicate Note.”
Then, tag one student on this note and remove the “evaluations” tag.
That note will now show up under that student’s tag. You can then change the title of that note to say “Student Progress Evaluation 2017”, and add the student’s name to the top of the evaluation, and it won’t affect your original note. You can also see that I can view the previous three years of evaluations for that student. It’s always nice to see comparisons from year to year.
Next year for this student, I can simply duplicate this note. Easy!
It takes maybe 10-15 minutes to duplicate the master note individually for all of my students and 15-20 minutes per student to write their evaluations if I’m lucky. I spend quite a bit of time writing these evaluations during evaluation week.
You can then either email the note directly to the parent to preview prior to the meeting or print a hard copy to give them during the meeting.
Here’s what it looks like when it comes to email.
Face to Face
Even if I didn’t write formal evaluations for my students, I would still take the time to schedule a face-to-face time to chat together at the end of the year. Since many of my parents I only see face to face a few times throughout the year, it feels good to have a chat whether it be formal or casual.
An in-person meeting is also the perfect time to make any big studio announcements. I can’t wait to share my big announcement with my families this year, actually, the announcement is for you too, but I’m going to keep you both in suspense until the last week of May! Hehehe…
Thank you so much for sharing! If I am going to give your a rating, it would be
* 5 = WOW, exceeded MY highest expectations, completely above and beyond
By the way, aren’t you going to give us a clue about the big surprise? Very excited and cannot wait for end of May 🙂
LOL. Well, thank you, Karen. 🙂 A clue…hmmm…no, I think I’ll leave you in suspense. It’s more fun that way! 😉
This is really fabulous! I love Evernote — I came to your blog from Natalie’s blog about tracking repertoire in Evernote. 😉 Thank you so much for sharing your note! 🙂
I would have loved having tangible evaluations like this when I was growing up. Usually the only written evaluation I ever had was from festivals or RCM exams, and I really appreciated that feedback. This is definitely something I will be implementing.
Hi, Natasha. Thanks to Natalie for sending you this way! I’m always excited to hear of other enthusiastic Evernote users. It’s really changed my life and workflow over the last several years especially. Good luck on the new evaluations!
Hi, Amy. This blog post has me inspired! I think giving my students an evaluation could be very helpful. I read Julie Knerr’s essay. But I’m a little puzzled. Since the satisfactory range is usually includes about 3 grades and the ranges overlap from grade to grade, how do you know what to write on a student’s form. For example, a student in level 2 — is he in 2nd, 3rd, or 4th grade?
Hi, Emily, that’s a good question! I would say it’s not completely exact or cut and dry and I explain that to the families as well. I basically start by determining the level of music the student is playing. If it’s level 2, I then say they are playing at the equivalent level of being in 2nd grade. If you’re looking at Julie’s table on the mini essay, I don’t necessarily use the 3rd column. To me, that’s more of an explanation of, if you consider the goal for the student to be playing early advanced repertoire by the time they get to 12th grade, then if they’re a 4th grader, they’re moving along at a good pace as long as they’re somewhere between level 2-4. Honestly, sometimes I will write that the student is comparable to being in say 2nd-3rd grade if they’re progressing between the levels but not necessarily strongly at level 3. I hope this makes sense!
Okay, that’s starting to make sense. Thanks, Amy!