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New Teacher Evaluations: A Road Map to Great Teaching

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I’m teaching a training class for teachers about the best way to give students feedback, and it dawns on me: When do teachers get the type of formative feedback that we strive to give our students? We talk about kids needing specific, timely feedback in order to improve. Don’t teachers need this feedback as well?

In Washington state, where I live, a new day is coming – a day when teachers will receive concrete, specific information on how they can improve. In my mind, our state’s new teacher evaluation system is a road map to great teaching.

Here’s my past experience, as an elementary teacher, with evaluation. An evaluator would come in, observe, write up the notes, and give them to me. These notes basically consisted of a “top-down” list of what went well in my lesson and what I could improve. I would then return to my classroom, no more empowered to change my practice than before the evaluation.

Washington’s new teacher evaluation system encourages self-assessment, reflection on practice, and professional discussion. Through casino online conversation, teachers will have the opportunity to enlighten the evaluator on the context of the lesson and their class. Then together, the teacher and evaluator can identify the teacher’s strengths and areas for growth, and map out a professional learning plan. Instead of a formal assessment, this approach is a dialogue.

Once a professional learning plan is in place, Success at the Core resources can be very helpful.  As an instructional coach in my school, I have observed my principal pilot the new teacher evaluation system with three of my colleagues. As the teachers and principal de-briefed the classroom observations, some amazing conversations occurred, and teachers emerged from these meetings with at least one instructional practice they’d like to improve. As a coach, I then have the opportunity to work with these teachers, and I find myself recommending Success at the Core tools again and again.

Once a teacher really digs into the minutia of teacher evaluation requirements, they will likely see an area they would like to focus. I point teachers to Teacher Development strategies most aligned with their identified growth areas. In addition to showing an instructional practice “in action,” these strategies include instructional plans, student work, teacher commentary, and more. To help teachers with their specific target areas, I’ve created a document that aligns Washington’s teacher evaluation criteria and Charlotte Danielson’s instructional framework with some SaC resources. These resources can help teachers on their individual improvement journeys. You can access the alignment document here.

Rarely can principals/evaluators keep up with the variety of tools available to assist teachers with improving their practice. The evaluation – and debrief conversation – is a motivator, an igniter. Success at the Core materials can then offer teachers examples of how others have implemented effective instructional strategies. Teachers are the ultimate learners IF they are engaged in activities that promote learning.

As you reflect on your own path to improved teaching, what other tools and resources have been the most beneficial to you?

You might also like:

Preparing to Talk Evaluation with My Principal
A Success at the Core Activity to Kick-Off the Year
An Action Plan for Personal Growth

7 Responses to New Teacher Evaluations: A Road Map to Great Teaching

  1. ailene baxter says:

    I enjoyed this post very much. I particularly like your emphasis on the shared responsibility for the new evaluation process, the importance of self-assessment and reflection, the emphasis on formative feedback, and the significance of dialogue. How are you, your teachers and administrators thinking about ways to systematically create time and opportunities for this process to occur? Great job on the alignment doc, BTW.

    • Corrie Freiwaldt says:

      Systemic change to create time is problematic. Our principals are going through this process with just 3 teachers right now. While they see this as a rewarding and beneficial responsibility, the question comes up, “when will we find the time?” Teachers NEED this feedback just as much as principals NEED to give this feedback. My hopes is that through collaboration and experimentation, principals will find how this can work in their busy schedules. I’ll keep you posted if we develop a system.

  2. Heather Byington says:

    Watching Success at the Core videos inspired me to videotape my own instruction during this school year. I decided I wanted to focus on what was happening during reading instruction, specifically as I taught comprehension strategy mini lessons or conferenced with individuals about their reading comprehension. Watching those videos has helped me analyze my questioning strategies. Watching the videos with colleagues has helped me gain perspective as they’ve asked me why I’ve gone in a certain direction or asked certain questions. This has been a powerful tool for me in learning about my own teaching and next steps for my growth as a teacher.

    • Corrie Freiwaldt says:

      ooh, yes! When teachers videotape themselves, it will prepare them for National Board Certification if they choose to go that route. I wish more teachers had the confidence to tape themselves. Watching yourself, listening to yourself and seeing the student’s reactions are powerful.

  3. Beth Ashley says:

    Both Corrie’s comments about the importance of dialogue and Heather’s video example are anchored in data. When we as administrators and teachers have an opportunity to look at the data collected through the observation and evaluation process, amazing insights emerge. I love data because it is completely objective. It would be great to hear how other folks experienced this process!

  4. Andrea Brixey says:

    Corrie, your message here is so important.

    Through my own in class experience, it is becoming evident that the new teacher evaluation model is not scary and punative, but offers the potential for real growth as an instructor.

    There is nothing more heartening (or sustaining!) than making progress as a teacher and watching your students grow through your instruction. Thanks for creating another resource to allow more of that. Keep spreading the word!

  5. Mark Gardner says:

    I lead TPEP pilot groups in my building and I have used several SAC videos to launch us into good, reflective, analytical discussions. I’ve also used videos from the teaching channel and a few random (rougher) ones out there on youtube. The SAC videos and videos on the teaching channel are by far the most useful.

    I appreciate what Beth says above about using all of this as a means of gathering data…which to me used to mean only “numbers,” but now I realize that data means “observation” or anything else that can be gathered as potential evidence. This has been a bit of a shift for admin in my district, as well as for teachers who are not accustomed to the kinds of conversations where they are expected to articulate their reasoning, instincts, and decision-making (since these all can figure into the “data” and observation that an evaluator might consider).

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