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NAPCIS Newsletter Fall 2004

Faculty Formation: Types of Classroom Observations and Teacher Evaluation
Part Two - Teacher Evaluation

Last issue we considered some practical techniques in the conducting of classroom observations of faculty. This time we will look at the evaluation of teachers’ work more closely.

As mentioned last time, the classroom observation is an opportunity for the administrator to collect important data concerning what goes on in the classroom. This data ought to be recorded raw and unedited, as it occurs chronologically, without conclusions or summary statements entered. This approach to information recording is important because it will give the administrator the most objective basis for drawing up an evaluation after the period is over. Administrators who approach classroom observations this way spend as much time writing as they do listening and looking.

An evaluation founded on particulars is likely to be the most honest and true assessment of teacher effectiveness. It also is a good tool for steering teachers toward the right path when actual missteps are identified in their teaching and classroom management. Additionally, it fosters better self-confidence in teachers concerning their strengths and helps them form lasting pedagogical habits when they learn precisely what is commendable about their work in the classroom.

When conducting a general assessment of the teacher and classroom, the evaluation portion of the review ought to consider the following interrelated and overlapping areas:

Static classroom environment (tidiness, organization, safety, and relatedness to
the academic objectives)

Student Activity (as individuals; as a group or groups; routines, procedures and
behavior; participation in lesson presentation; participation in assigned work)

Teacher’s command of the classroom participants (teacher’s directing and
transitioning student’s attention and activities; overseeing routines and
procedures; regulating student participation and questioning; effective handling of
multiple grades and/or levels with their unique lessons and work; checking for
comprehension and assimilation; handling of any disruptions, misbehaviors or
violations of rules; teacher’s demeanor and appearance)

Teacher’s presentation of the lesson (following the school’s defined pedagogical
methodology, or a typical plan including Introductory Preview/ Review,
Exposition, Repetition, Application, Representation, Student Self-learning and
Concluding Review; clarity, facility, orderliness in the ideas and their pace of
presentation; checks for comprehension and efforts to represent when needed.)

Teacher’s guidance of students during the assignment portion (individually
checking for comprehension, application and mastery; adequacy of time budgeted for
student work; degree of responsibility vested in the students for their own work)

Above all, the information collected during the observation should be evaluated in the light of the school’s curricular, pedagogical, discipline and professional policies. Comparisons with the NAPCIS Standards of Excellence for Teachers, as well as the cardinal and theological virtues may also aid in the assessment of the classroom experience. An appeal to common sense is always refreshing in the field of academics, too. In short, the key to a truly beneficial and effective evaluation is the interpretation of the observed data with defined criteria, standards and rules.

We mentioned last time that a pre-conference ought be held with the teacher to discuss any objectives that will be looked for in the observation and evaluation process. During that meeting the criteria and rubrics that will be employed in the evaluation may be discussed with the teacher as well. Just as a good teacher will tell the students what he is going to teach them, then teach that to them, then have the students work with those points in their assignments, then review those same points, and finally test the students on them, so too will the good administrator tell the teacher what is expected of him, review those points with him in meetings and in services, observe for those same points, and finally evaluate him in the light of his implementation of the same during his professional review. This sort of careful attention will help insure the intended result at each stage of the whole process: the professional improvement of the teacher.

Once your evaluation of the observation is formed, keep the original data to support your conclusions. Include it with the evaluation and share it with the teacher in a post-conference. Be sure to schedule plenty of time for this meeting. Instead of fitting it into the teacher’s prep period, consider arranging for a substitute to take the teacher’s class for a period while the meeting is held. During this meeting, point out the particulars in your explanation of the evaluation. Though you will want to insist on school policies and best practices, whenever possible give the teacher the benefit of the doubt. Allow him to respond to your evaluation, and consider accepting his comments into your final daft of the professional review.

Where there are areas for professional growth, diagnose any deficiency through the manifest symptoms and offer an assessment of their cause, present the teacher with the desired goal and solicit his help in formulating the steps necessary to attain the desired outcome. For instance, if a teacher’s classroom observation reveals much unfocused student activity at the beginning of the period such as talking, sharing of items not pertinent to the forthcoming class, cluttered class materials and personal effects, followed by repeated calls from the teacher for order, quiet, and the handing in of assignments, you may conclude that there is lacking an effective start-of-class routine. Through your discussion with the teacher you will learn if there is a good routine “on the books” that is simply not being followed, a poorly designed routine in place that only leads to confusion, or no routine at all. Once this is discovered, the goal of establishing a good routine that is consistently followed by all students at every beginning of class will be laid out, and the steps necessary to attain the routine may become evident. Allow the teacher to suggest what that routine should be and how to begin to implement it.

Once the observation, evaluation, commendations, goals and steps for improvement are noted, present them in writing and have the teacher sign and date them along with you. Give the teacher an opportunity to attach a written response if he so desires, and place these items in his professional file.

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