A New Era for Teacher Evaluation and Supervision
School districts are now perfectly poised to make courageous decisions that can change students’ futures by ensuring them access to an effective teacher in every classroom. Robert Marzano
There is a new vision for the process of teacher evaluation. This vision is one where evaluation involves administrators coaching teachers in the use of research-based instructional practice leading to increased and more robust student achievement.
As such, this vision subscribes to a philosophical underpinning: unless teachers have a clear and specific understanding of the knowledge they want students to own and apply, they promote misconceptions. Research supports that when teachers invest in the process of helping students completely and thoroughly understand what they are expected to master from the beginning of the learning process, students can build to higher levels of metacognition throughout instruction.
This vision is in direct contrast to the more traditional “spaghetti against the wall” style of instruction where teachers continue to present content, not really being certain that students understand until they begin to assess. In this way, teachers miss critical opportunities to coach students through the process of making and building connections throughout instruction.
The vision moves to practice when the focus becomes a real coaching model. To best facilitate this approach, administrators must be developed as coaches. The emphasis on the administrative team is integral to the success of the project. Administrators must:
1. Become skilled at identifying evidence of research-based teacher practice,
2. Become skilled at identifying evidence of student understanding and metacognition,
3. Become skilled at evaluating the evidence,
4. Provide focused feedback to teachers,
5. Engage in rich conversations with teachers about the evidence of research-based instruction and evidence of student understanding throughout the entire process of instruction, and
6. Engage in rich conversations with teachers to problem solve methods of making informed instructional decisions based on the quality of evidence of student understanding and metacognition.
The method which works to advance this practice is a “teaching hospital model”. A group of administrators perform evaluations in classrooms as a team and collects evidence on one or possibly two instructional strategies. There needs to be a conversation about what constitutes evidence versus opinion prior to the exercise and throughout the process. Teachers volunteer to have the team come and view a lesson. Teachers may request feedback but this is clearly identified as training for administrators and is non-evaluative.
Once the team sits in on a lesson, they come together and identify specific evidence of the strategy or strategies. The evidence must reflect teacher practice and student metacognition. Once the evidence is determined, it can then be rated as to its quality. Most significantly, there needs to be a discussion of exactly how to provide very specific and focused feedback to the teacher. The conversation must include a discussion of strategies to enhance student metacognition. This will enable the teacher to examine the connection between student understanding of what is being taught effectively through research-based instructional strategies and increased student achievement. Investing time in this type of coaching model for evaluation leads to amazingly rich conversations with teachers about instruction as well as higher levels of student achievement. It is well worth the investment of time and energy.