Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The New Evaluation Framework: One Teacher's Initial Reaction

Today we had a system-wide introduction to Massachusetts' New Supervision and Evaluation Framework.  I had heard bits and pieces about the topic, but this was my first chance to review the standards with any depth.

John D'Auria, President of Teacher 21, presented the introduction. My initial reaction is that I plan to embrace the new Framework because the document focuses on optimal student learning and exemplifies what good teachers do. We all want to work in school environments that ensure optimal learning and experiences for students, and it seems to me that these standards support that. I am fortunate to work in a school system that provides an optimal environment for instructional success, and I realize that is one reason why I find the new standards to be a positive challenge.

As I listened to the presentation, I thought carefully about what we do now to meet those standards and how I (and the teams I work with) might better meet the standards in the future.  I created the chart at the bottom of the page related to my current work with fourth graders as one way of moving from our current evaluation system to the new Framework.

My one concern with the new Framework lies in the area of collaboration.  In schools, students are served by many teachers, teaching assistants and others. No one teacher can be all things to all students, and it takes a team to serve children well.

How is collaboration fostered with this new system? In response to that concern, I learned of the possibility of team or school goals rather than individual goals.  That notion intrigues me. I'm wondering how a whole school or team identifies, collaborates, works towards and is evaluated with regard to team goals.

As I've mentioned in the past, I think that the many new structures in education such as this new Framework, the integration of technology and other changes call for a review of roles and responsibilities in schools.  How can a "roles' and responsibilities' review" serve to better support student success and ensure that every educator in a building has a reasonable schedule and responsibility with regard to student success and the many standards regularly assessed?  It shouldn't be that some educators in a building are accountable to testing while others are not since everyone plays an important role related to student achievement.

With regard to my own personal work, the chart at the bottom of the page depicts an initial short list of how I'll start to incorporate the New Framework into my work with students.

How is your system reacting to the New Framework?  How will this evaluation revision change your practice and your school environment?  What concerns do you have?  I will continue to think about this subject in the weeks and months to come.  I am grateful to my school administration that they took the time to bring this discussion to us in a timely, respectful fashion so that we can begin to reflect, research, understand and implement integral action that affects our professional work and student success.

Current Work
Ideas for Further Action
1. Curriculum, Planning and Assessment
  Identify unit goals.
  Standards-Based Units.
  Clearly define standards, criteria for quality work.
  Use motivating instructional practices.
  Tiered, multi-modal instruction.
   Plan for students with disabilities and ELL learners.
   Regular assessments, and revision to instruction in response to assessments.

   Continue to finesse units of instruction and identification of standards, goals.
   Focus on optimal collaboration to best meet standards.
   Continue to focus on optimal lesson delivery and design.
   Continue focus on students' developmental stages and how that affects curriculum delivery and design.
2. Teaching All Students
   Institute rituals, routines that establish safe physical and intellectual environments.
   Introduce students to latest cognitive research related to optimal learning.
   Coach students to utilize effective behavior, effort, inquiry and risk to foster optimal learning.
   Create opportunities for student collaboration with diverse groups, and coach students with respect to interpersonal communication skills
   Create portfolios and implement reflection opportunities to help students identify strengths, interests and needs. 
   Utilize motivating, responsive learning activities and events.
   Culture Units of Study: What is your Culture?, Native American Cultures, Regions of the United States, and the Family History/Immigration Museum Project.
   Ongoing discussion, read aloud and response related to misunderstandings arising from differences in backgrounds, languages and identities.
   Greater awareness, study and practice of current cognitive research related to learning.
   Greater study, awareness and practice of efforts related to coaching students with learning to learn efforts and behaviors.
   More visual reminders of classroom rituals, routines and optimal behaviors related to student success.
   Continued effort to represent all cultures and backgrounds with teaching materials and books.
   Finessing current units with best possible literature, research, essential questions, and activities.

3. Family and Community Engagement
   Regular Newsletters
   Parent Conferences
   Class Websites and Social Media.
   Family surveys
   Open Houses and Project Performances.
   Curriculum Night
   Report Cards
   Email, Notes and Letters

   Think about making the first two days of school family days when students and family members have get-to-know you meetings with the teacher.
   Regular student surveys.
   Think more about how to meet the needs of families-at-risk or isolated families in a systematic, responsive way.
Research and develop shared practices related to student/family feedback.
4. Professional Culture
   Sharing via PLCs, grade-level meetings, staff meetings, blogs, emails and professional development.
   Attendance at conferences.
   Independent Study.
   University Study.
   Goal setting as individuals and teams.
Student Teacher Programs

    Learning more about team goal setting, communication, efforts and reflection.
   Continued development of RTI and PLCs to foster optimal collaboration.
   Review of roles and responsibilities to best meet student needs.

Continued work with student teaching programs and University partnerships.