flickr photo by TerryJohnston shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Can Teachers Trust Their Observations?

How to Focus on Evaluator Capacity

Greg McVerry
May 17, 2016 · 4 min read

As a society we want our teacher evaluations to serve as quality assurances and professional development (Danielson & McGreal, 2000). At ReVIEW Talent Feedback System we believe schools must build feedback driven tools to accomplish these two goals.

Yet how do teachers know they can trust the observational feedback that principals and evaluators give? Recent reports from research suggest that teachers shouldn’t. Before major changes to our evaluation plans principals spent less than 13% of their time focused on instructional capacity (Nuemerski et al., 2014). Even now as districts have rolled out ambitious plans with an increased focus on observations teachers are not getting the high quality feedback they deserve.

In fact we face many challenges when increasing the instructional capacity of principals. They have too little time and almost no coaching (Sartain, Stoelinga, &Brown, 2011). Its no wonder teachers often report not incorporating the feedback (Donaldson & Donaldson, 2012). After all principals claim to receive little training in delivering high quality feedback (Kraft & Gilmour, 2015).

Yet we also know that effective teacher evaluation plans driven by observation can improve student achievement (Taylor & Tyler, 2012). So how can we make sure principals have the time and training? How can we promise teachers they can trust and use the feedback they receive?

At ReVIEW Talent Feedback System we are happy to announce the release of Version 1.5.2 which seeks to address these very concerns. We believe that the best way to improve the instructional leadership of evaluators is to coach them through the same high quality feedback they will give to teachers.

In this release we have added a new facilitator role. Evaluators can now send their feedback to a coach. Their reports are then scored against our research based ReVision Supervisory Continuum.

Step One Create a Facilitator

Similar to their students, teachers learn best through high quality feedback. Principals are no different. Using our new facilitator feature districts can either have a coach from ReVIEW score teacher observation reports or through our Training of the Trainer model districts can learn to use the RVL to support learning in their schools.

We begin by coaching evaluators to use ReVision Learning’s Claim, Connect, Action approach to narrative feedback. As a first step an evaluator writes up a report for a teacher. They make a claim based on the district’s chosen framework. Connect that claim to observed classroom practice, and then provide actionable feedback to improve student learning.

Step Two: Evaluator Leaves Teacher Feedback

The evaluator can then choose to send their report to their coach who serves in our new facilitator role.

Step Three: Send to Evaluator

The facilitator then has access to the written report and uses this as evidence. The evaluator is then scored against the RVL Continuum.

Our goal at ReVIEW Talent Feedback System is to coach evaluators the same way we want them to score educators:

High quality narrative driven feedback.

Danielson, C., & McGreal, T. L. (2000). Teacher evaluation to enhance professional practice. ASCD.

Donaldson, M. L., & Donaldson Jr, G. A. (2012). Strengthening Teacher Evaluation: What District Leaders Can Do. Educational Leadership, 69(8), 78–82.

Kraft, M. A., & Gilmour, A. (2015). Can Evaluation Promote Teacher Development? Principals’ Views and Experiences Implementing Observation and Feedback Cycles.

Neumerski, C., Grissom, J. A., Goldring, E., Cannata, M., Drake, T., Rubin, M., & Schuermann, P. (2014, March). Inside teacher evaluation systems: Shifting the role of the principal as instructional leader. In Annual Meeting of the Association for Education Finance and Policy, San Antonio, TX, March.

Sartain, L., Stoelinga, S. R., & Brown, E. R. (2011). Rethinking Teacher Evaluation in Chicago: Lessons Learned from Classroom Observations, Principal-Teacher Conferences, and District Implementation. Research Report. Consortium on Chicago School Research. 1313 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637.

Taylor, E. S., & Tyler, J. H. (2012). The effect of evaluation on teacher performance. The American Economic Review, 102(7), 3628–3651.

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