Implementing An Educator Evaluation – Staff Introduction And Rollout.

For many years now, we have watched what appears to be a failing school system. And in most cases people want to blame the teachers for this down fall. The question on so many peoples minds are; how can we figure out which teachers are doing great things and which teachers are not cutting it in the classroom.

Every time, I have a talk with a friend or a family member, that makes a comment about teachers not doing what they are paid “to much to do”, I ask them, “Well, how would you evaluate a teacher?” And in almost every case they don’t have answer and if they do, it usually stinks or it is just sarcastic in tone. The question isn’t really about how to find the bad ones; it’s more about how to make them all great ones. I don’t really know any teachers that go into education for the money. Sure in some states like Pennsylvania it pays the bills, but like I said, in most cases it’s not about the money. It’s about wanting to make a difference. The hard part is, it not as easy as many people think. I’m not sure, but I thing a good 30% of teachers don’t even get past the first 3 years.

So, back to the question how do we make teachers great? How do we get teachers to have an impact on the students? I know there is no easy answer, but I think a big part of the change can come from a better teacher evaluation system. Danielson Framework For Teaching could possibly be the tools to begin see results. But I will be honest… I think it’s a bit intimidating myself.

Developing a plan… School Wide.

Ok, how do you get a system as detailed as this one in place to start turning your school around? Well I was asked to tell you how, so here goes.

Step 1: School Wide Introduction.

The first step would be to begin this program on the first few days’ of school, and break it to the staff in a few small pieces. I think a 15 to 20 minute overview would be more then enough. At the end of the meeting supply the teachers with a binder and ask them to fill it with everything they do. Emphasis to not leave anything out. Tell them you want to see; presentations, vocab sheets, lesson plans, journal entries and anything else they might use during the class time. And just before they get up and completely forget everything you just told them. Let them know you will be using these books in an activity, one month from now… “Don’t be shy fill them bad boys up”!

If I have learned one thing about teachers and administration, it’s that teacher expect admin’s ideas to fade away. I was told this concept by an older teacher and in most cases it does.

Step 2: Introduction to the Evaluation

So what happens now? In one month you ask your teachers to come back with their binders and say ok. Here’s what I want to see a solid example of “Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy” What you got?

Now I’m sure, someone will pull out a lesson plan the explains how to change the oil on a car. Ok, but what do you have that’s better? What do you have that says to the students “Oh, ok that’s why we change the oil in the first place. Let me explain what the heck I am I talking about.

Direct Pull – The Framework for Teaching is a research-based set of components of instruction, aligned to the INTASC standards, and grounded in a constructivist view of learning and teaching. The complex activity of teaching is divided into 22 components (and 76 smaller elements) clustered into four domains of teaching responsibility:
1.Planning and Preparation
2.Classroom Environment
3.Instruction
4.Professional Responsibilities

So lets start with the first domain and its 7 key sections…

Planning and Preparation. – Domain 1
1a Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy
1b Demonstrating Knowledge of Students
1c Setting Instructional Outcomes
1d Demonstrating Knowledge of Resources
1e Designing Coherent Instruction
1f Designing Student Assessments

Ok, so lets start with your oil change lesson; why do we need to change the oil? I’m sure I will get a technical answer. The next question is where’s that lesson plan, presentation or even a video. What else would be important to know? Do the students know the background of different oil ratios, what kind of life span do they get? Why do the break down? What the science of heat vs friction? Is their any history about this topic that would be fun for them to know?

Breakdown of domains and sub sections:

I am trying to use an idea of verbal lists and cures to help educate the staff members with Examples and Statement Helpers.

1a Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy:

It’s all about looking to see that the teacher finds other information for them to help the students see multiple reasons, concepts, backgrounds and ideas about the task. I am sure ever teacher can say they do that but, we, as administrators need to see the evidence.

Examples; personally developed worksheets, presentations with study guides or anticipation sheets, resources for the students to use, magazine articles with journal topics, open ended problems and discussion topics and of course tests.

Statement Helper: Expand their knowledge of not just the task, but why the task exists.

1b Demonstrating Knowledge of Students:

This on sounds easy… its not. The first example of this would be to see a teachers understanding of this, by demonstrating a basic class structure the allows all of the different styles of learning, audio, visual, cognitive… etc.. A solid teacher will be able to build his lesson plans and projects that might have various outcomes and methods used to get the answer. We know, not every student learns the same and most teachers have figured this part of the problem out with great planning, But it’s the details that get lost and the only way for real education to occur is to truly know the students.

If I was looking for evidence in this section, I would want to see a teacher talk to the student about, (example) remember when you told me your dad and you took a trip to the art museums… what was you favorite part about that trip. This kind of information could also come from great journaling topics, or public speaking projects. Teachers need to have lots of spoons in the pot.

Examples: understanding of family dynamics, student surveys, journal project, oral reports about themselves, individual conversations, knowledge of out of school activities, clubs, sports,

Statement Helper: Making real world connections only works if you know what THIER real world looks like.

1c Setting Instructional Outcomes

This one is about what the student will learn, not what they will do. I know in my experience as an art teacher. My first few years were all about the projects and what they looked like in the end. While they looked great, I realized they didn’t understand why or how it was a good project. This is when we moved to a more problem solving style of projects. It was easy to say to the student, I want you to draw a pair of shoes. But the better project would have been to design a new style of shoe, that did something no other shoe did. This made them think, not just does something to get a grade. If the shoes they made could fly, how were they powered, did it have wings, jets, air magnets… etc.

I would be looking for problem solving designed lesson plans, students need to make mistakes or be challenged to truly learn.

Examples: rubrics, project outcomes, student portfolio’s, back to front planning, open ended problems, challenges not just answers, project critiques and discussions.

Statement Helper: I know I won’t make that mistake again… I learned my lesson this time.

1d Demonstrating Knowledge of Resources

When looking for evidence of this section, it has to come down on the what and how… Lets say a teacher wants to talk about a setting up a professional website. Sure you could sit up in front of the class and show examples of existing websites. Or you could have an outside designer stop in and talk about what he/she did to get their website up and running. This is also an opportunity to provide the class with reading examples about how to get started, or provide them with websites that can help. A good teacher will dig deep and find tutorials, videos and books to guide their student with extra help. There are communities out there for them to talk to on the web and connect with other students who might be doing the same thing. A big section of this is finding the right materials to use in the class that will allow them to grow no matter what level or style they learn at.

Examples: guest speakers, multi-level reading materials, video tutorials, pod casts, blogs, student examples, knowledge of professional clubs and education opportunities.

Statement Helper: If you’re going to leads a horse to water… at least make it taste good.

1e Designing Coherent Instruction

Section 1e is all about the big picture, it’s the meat and potato’s and a lot of other cliché statements could be used here. But in the end, it comes down to making the entire program work together. It lets the program make connections from one task to another and then fills in all the gaps. I would have to say that this is the one thing, that I do really well. I love writing curriculum, I love to see how it all works together and makes a solid transition and path between projects lectures and tasks. This combines your resources, lesson plans, websites, lectures and everything in between. I had a friend that called it the “Learning Journey” his explanation was not so serious, but it did have the main idea down.

Examples: resources, lesson plans, websites, lectures, work sheets, bell activities, reading and math strategies… THAT ALL WORK TOGETHER!

Statement Helper: It’s the big picture…

1f Designing Student Assessments

The assessment section is probably the worst for most teachers. I know I struggle with this one too. When you think about education, we spend so much time preparing them for the final project or test. We create all the information they need, and the end, in too many cases we just give them a grade and end it there. I know we should be doing more, but I think that’s how most of us went through school. Your grade was the feedback. I know I hate the word rubric, because, it becomes an almost a “no duh”… document. Over the years I have been learning to understand the importance of a rubric more and more. This isn’t much different then reflecting on how the project went for us. To many times a student get a grade with no real feedback, and like I said, I believe teacher’s fail this part of the educational planning system.

Examples: rubrics, critiques, journal reflections, project statements, post project reflections and teacher/student relationships and conversations.

Statement Helper: Feedback is our friend.

Domain 2 – The Classroom Environment

2a Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport

2b Establishing a Culture for Learning

2c Managing Classroom Procedures

2d Managing Student Behavior

2e Organizing Physical Space

This entire section is really the core of what Career and Tech is all about. I believe that CTE teachers do this better then any other education system in America. And the reason is we put so much time into these students. On a normal student rotation we can spend 2 hours a day for 3 years with a student. We learn about the student, just as much as they learn about us. I think it is so cool when a student asks me how my daughter’s soccer team did this weekend. Other then a small group of people, most people can only name a few teachers that made a different and it usually comes from the elementary school years or a high school coach.

Why did a kid fail a project? People outside of education would say, they just didn’t care and didn’t study. Generally there is a lot more to it. Most of the time there is no support system at home. Sometimes, it a struggle to understand the assignments and because they have been behind for so long that they can’t even imagine catching up at this time. People don’t see that a student’s family and personal life has a huge effect on their schools performance. I have seen students use every trick in the book to get out of a reading assignment or write a paper and its not always because they are just lazy… sometimes they just can’t do it and nobody ever really took the time to help them. But I don’t think it’s always because of lack of teacher support. I think it happens because of a lack of understanding and poor relationships with the students.

This Domain is all about the how you interact with the students, family and those involved.

2a Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport

Examples: Respect for students, background, caring, fair and support.

Statement Helper: Everything I needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten.

2b Establishing a Culture for Learning

Examples: Value of the work, high expectations, positive encouragement, confidence in students, expectation that students get involved.

Statement Helper: Expect success… Get Success.

2d Managing Student Behavior

Examples: Clear standards, visual guides, posted rules, preventive actions, expectations of professional behavior and consequences for not following the rules.

Statement Helper: Hold the students accountable for their actions.

2e Organizing Physical Space

Examples: inviting atmosphere, safe, furniture arrangement suitable for the learning activities, Effective use of physical resources, including computer technology, by both teacher and students.

Domain 3: Instruction
3a Communicating With Students
3b Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques
3c Engaging Students in Learning
3d Using Assessment in Instruction
3e Demonstrating Flexibility and Responsiveness

So, I have always felt that there are usually two different types of teachers, those that look great on paper and those that look great in front of the classroom. Teaching needs to be part Hollywood actor, part physiologist and part Cool Uncle Mike. The reason that I say this we all look at the teacher that connects with us as the ones that are going to make an impact. Change of pace, asking the right questions, engaging the students and having teachable moments are part s of being a great teacher.

The biggest part of this really has to deal with how you accomplish your curriculum goals through the actual instruction. Communication is the key. My first assistant director always said, “you need to stand on you head to get their attention.” You don’t need to constantly be putting on a show for them, but you do need to hold their attention. A good start, an opening question, a review of information through a debate are all fun ways to keep the class moving. Teachers need to show excitement and emotion about their subject matters. How do you change up the daily grind? How do you not bore yourself? Students want to learn, we just need to find our personality so the students see we are real and passionate about we do.

Lets break it down.

3a Communicating With Students

Examples: Why are you doing these lessons, are the outcomes well defined for the students, is their a clear understand of the requirements, do they get it, is the language being used correct to the lesson and the concepts of previous and post information getting a crossed to the students.

Statement Helper: Actions speak louder then lesson plans.

3b Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques

Examples: good ideas, creative and challenging topics, student can make the connections to the topic, teacher can let the students take over the conversation, lots of students involved and participating.

Statement Helper: Jumpstart the conversation and watch it run away.

3c Engaging Students in Learning

Examples: High level of thinking needs to be involved in the student projects, students want to learn, project pacing not rushed but still put pressure on them to complete.

Statement Helper: Lesson plans on steroids.

3d Using Assessment in Instruction

Examples: keeping a close look at student progress on projects, looking for proof of content knowledge throughout their projects, students can make there own assessments about their work.

Statement Helper: Its all in the follow thru.

3e Demonstrating Flexibility and Responsiveness

Examples: finding the right mix of instructional times, giving the students some projects that they may choose, make some activities in a game like approach, seeing opportunities to rise to the occasion, see the students confidence go up.

Statement Helper: Seize the Day.

Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities
4a Reflecting on Teaching
4b Maintaining Accurate Records
4c Communicating with Families
4d Participating in a Professional Community
4e Growing and Developing Professionally
4f Showing Professionalism

Domain 4 is in my opinion the business side of education. It deals with all the stuff we don’t really want to do especially in tech schools. It deals with the paperwork trail, keeping records, staying up-to-date and acting professional. I always said if I could all exceptional ratings a Domain 1, 2 & 3, I would be happy. But, domain 4… that’s a big step for me. It’s like asking artist to vote republican. I know there is a time in place for everything, you just have to hope that teachers can do the right thing at the right time.

To me Domain 4 could never happen without successfully navigating through 1, 2 & 3.

This section is a quick check of list to either completely hammer you down or put the icing on the cake. All 6 of these subtopics would never be able to be met without having a good hold on the rest of the evaluation. If I had to provide a Statement Helper for this entire domain it would be… JUST DO YOUR JOB!

Final step in the plan:

Throughout the year, I would slowly address all of the different domains and what each of the subtitles really means. The teachers need to know not only what I would like to see, but also, what kinds of evaluation tools make for a solid educational plan. During that time, I would do my checking progress with the teachers in class communication and be looking for evidence or lack of those different types of teacher skills.

Somewhere around the halfway mark I would be asking to see their binders and begin to try and defend their program. This is an excellent tool to get them ready for the 339 review. It is a great idea to get the teachers to be able to talk about their program in a manor that defends it. The great thing about this binder is that it would also serve as jumpstart for the 339 review. I would think that this kind of back forth input between the teacher and the administrator would really begin to help teachers not only excide in the classroom, but also help them grow as a professional teacher.

Being a teacher. A great teacher. Takes more work then we will ever get paid for, but in the end the reward isn’t the money. It’s the reward of seeing the success stories come to life, because we made that kind of impact… It’s what we do!