QUESTION: My first book just came out a couple of weeks ago. I’ve done a few presentations and have more lined up. I’d like to provide my hosts with some sort of evaluation form. I can make one myself, but it seemed like something I might find on your website. Any suggestions or resources would be most welcome.
ANSWER: Provide an evaluation form? It depends. A form is most useful to you
1) when you are trying out new material and want constructive feedback or
2) when you primarily want to gather testimonials to post on your website.
Once the kinks in your program are worked out, an evaluation isn’t necessary. And once you gather some juicy testimonials from teachers, librarians, administrators and parent-hosts, you may not need to keep requesting them. (You’ll get them spontaneously anyway from your host or from fan letters.)
What you ask on your form depends on what you want to know. I favor the “simpler is better” route. I have them rate my overall performance and ask two open-ended questions. You can find an example of my evaluation form here. For the best response rate, have your host collect these on the day of your visit.
Here’s what I ask on my rating scale:
On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest, please rate the author visit listed above.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
The author assembly / author workshop (circle one)
a) Met my expectations b) Did not meet my expectations c) Exceeded my expectations.
For open-ended comments, here’s how I phrase my request:
What did you like about this author and/or her presentations? What did you gain that you think you might be able to apply in the classroom?
Notice that I don’t ask, “What didn’t you like?” This can be addressed by respondents in the “other comments” section.
I also request respondent data. Some choose to be anonymous, and that’s okay. I’m most interested in their grade level or teaching assignment and what type of session they observed.
I observed the following programs: ____ Assembly ____ Classroom Q&A ____ Writing Workshop ___ Family Night
I teach grade(s) ________ City/State ______________________
Subject: ____________ Name (Optional) ________________
If you want more specifics on your performance, you might consider using this Performance Feedback Form, based on what teachers value in a presenter and their presentation. In general, it covers your demeanor, presentation specifics and audience engagement.
As to the question I asked in the title of this post, “should teachers evaluate authors’ presentations?” my answer would be, yes. When we’re in the field, authors are educators. The only way to find out if we’re on the right track with our presentations is to get feedback. Then we have to be prepared to make necessary changes to make sure that we are delivering quality services to our audiences.