In any school setting, there are many moving parts: students, teachers, other staff, parents and the bigger community. One way to make sure that the staff is promoting the bigger expectations of the school’s vision is through teacher observation. Observation is just one tool in a bigger evaluating system.
Teacher evaluation systems help to improve the overall quality of the staff and with reward systems in place, there will be an overall improvement in teaching strategies. Sometimes teacher evaluations can be stressful for the teacher who is being observed. There are several ways to get around this: one way is to have teaching assistants fill out forms regarding the head teacher; the second way is to remotely observe the teacher’s through the use of closed circuit cameras.
Having teachers submit lesson plans with scaffolding can help the higher administration keep track of what is being taught in each individual classroom. I would also encourage teachers of the same grade to work together. This ensures that they are teaching the same material at the same time.
Meaningful evaluation systems are beneficial for students and teachers. There are several different observation systems that any school can implement to ensure proper teacher evaluation. Two of these observation systems are Core Teaching Rubric and Insight Core Framework. Another way to help teachers feel more comfortable is to have meetings with the whole teaching staff. Meetings where there can be an open dialogue among all teaching staff where the staff can ask questions and address concerns.
When an entry-level teacher comes in, it helps for them to shadow an experienced teacher before taking on their own classroom. Hiring for the new school year should take place at the end of the school year so that the entry-level teacher is given an opportunity to either shadow or act as a teaching assistant (paraprofessional) in a classroom. To prepare the teachers who are going to be evaluated, the teachers should be given a print out for what types of things the observer will be looking for. The observer should be looking for the teaching style, the lesson plan, and the overall class environment.
Student-teacher interaction is also incredibly important. The teachers have a very important job of encouraging the students to learn. Teachers, especially in lower elementary help encourage the students by having a variety of reward systems in place. Through rewards and clear expectations, students will produce a better outcome. One of the most important and often overlooked aspects of the observation is for the teacher to receive quality feedback after the observation. Observers should not just be a silent partner in the educational process. Observers who also take on the role of the coach have better outcomes than those who do not.
State by state the way that teachers are observed varies. Teachers should try to do things that engage the students. One way to do this is to have “call outs” where the students answer back. There are several ways to do this: the teacher can say to students “If you hear me, put one hand in the air.” The observation process can help streamline the process of retaining quality staff and be a cornerstone in the educational process.