Should Teachers Evaluate Authors’ Presentations?

EvaluationNot long ago, I received this email from a newly-published writer:

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.
Poor                           Excellent
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?

Other comments:

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.

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2 Comments on “Should Teachers Evaluate Authors’ Presentations?”

  • Sorry this is a late comment for this post, but one ancillary reason I use real time evaluations is to keep teachers engaged. I hate to say it, but sometimes SOME teachers use author visits to catch up on paperwork, emails, texts, etc. It may be a anecdotal finding, but since I started handing out evaluation cards to teachers as they entered the presentation venue, they are more engaged — and are modeling that behavior for students. (Maybe its just that my presentations are more engaging now, right? :) I tell teachers that I’ve tweaked my presentation a bit and want to be sure it is working and I appreciate their feedback. That is true, by the way!

  • Interesting observation, Carrie — that teachers are more engaged when given the task of evaluating a performance. And the tweaking part is absolutely right. I’ve dumped bits that just don’t work as a result of feedback.

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