Did you know that great teachers feel slightly disappointed and somewhat unappreciated with a perfect evaluation? Take a look at the following quotes.
“I want to be better. Telling me how great the lesson was does not help me to grow. I want student and teacher growth.” – Janice Cizek
“I never got any constructive criticism except to make my plan book easier to read. I begged for real feedback.” -Larry Fliegelman
“During my first year, I had two perfect evals… sort of wanted something on there to improve on.” – Phillip Whitelaw
“I need to know a weakness. No feedback = lack of attention, if you ask me.” – Brian Bennett
“I want honest feedback. I want to be given extra ideas and ways to take it further, angles I haven’t thought of myself.” – Pernille Ripp
“If you thought I was perfect, you weren’t paying attention.” -Elizabeth Nelson
Did you know what’s happening in the classroom differs between a good principal and a great principal? A good principal spends time at the back of the room focusing on teaching. A great principal spends valuable time in the center of the learning focusing on students. Take a look at the following chart. Review each principal’s notes taken during the same classroom observation.
Principal Mia Deoker‘s Notes Principal Ed Fektuv’s Notes
|The teacher’s lesson plans are complete and meet the districts expectations. Teacher plans for low, medium and high level students.||Student work/outcomes much look the same regardless of student ability level.|
|The teacher moves about the room and seems to have a great rapport with the students.||Although the teacher is moving about the room, I have recorded 4 students who have worked 3 of the first 5 problems incorrectly.|
|The students are well behaved and seem to be engaged in the content.||Students are working independently. Two students have put their unfinished work away and are reading a novel. One student is doodling on his notebook. The teacher provides low-level feedback… Great job… You’re working hard….|
|The learning goal is located in front of the class.||After randomly asking 8 students to explain/demonstrate the learning goal, only two students could recall the learning goal while one student could demonstrate the learning goal with mastery.|
|Students are answering questions correctly and seem to have mastered the learning goal.||The teacher asked 7 questions throughout the instructional delivery and the same 3 students answered all 7 questions correctly.|
Which principal do you believe is focused on learning? Which notes were grounded in facts? Which notes will more likely translate into meaningful data to assist the teacher in improving his/her pedagogy?
It’s important to create the conditions so that teachers become more skillful in teaching because great teaching and high levels of learning go hand in hand. I believe the key to creating these conditions and transforming a teacher’s thinking and perspective, is asking the right questions. After reviewing Principal Ed Fektuv’s observation notes, I would pose the following questions during a post-observation.
- When you were moving around the room, what did you hear your student’s say or do that demonstrated understanding of the learning goal? Which students?
- What artifact can you provide that demonstrates differentiation of instruction?
- What were you looking for specifically when you provided feedback to the students?
- What were you thinking when only 3 students raised their hands?
- After asking your question, what If you were to allow students to discuss for 30 seconds collaboratively with their peers before calling on a student? What do you predict would happen?
These type of open-ended questions require a teacher to think cognitively and deeply about his/her own practice and if presented thoughtfully, can lead to collegial conversations. I would like to pose one last question. When you conduct observations, are you effective (Ed Fektuv) or mediocre (Mia Deoker)?
Something to think about.
Stay connected, Shawn