Advice about Observation

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by snowflake24, Apr 12, 2018.

  1. snowflake24

    snowflake24 Guest

    Apr 12, 2018

    I am in need of some advice. I feel like I am not being a good teacher after my last observation. I am really deflated. I am a second year teacher who is trying very hard. When I got my scores on my observation they were in my mail box and the other teachers where in their mail boxes. I could not help myself, I wanted to see how I compared with others. I looked at their observations and was totally discouraged because everyone was higher then me. I have talked with the principal about how to fix what he does not like but he goes against what he tells me from different evaluations. I am very frustrated. Any advice and am I a bad person for looking?
     
  2.  
  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    24,948
    Likes Received:
    2,096

    Apr 12, 2018

    You should not have gone in other mailboxes :oops:

    You can only compare you to you.... have you reflected on your admin's write ups? What do you think you can do to improve?
     
  4. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    3,215
    Likes Received:
    1,561

    Apr 13, 2018

    Well, since you already spied on other people's paperwork...

    What notes did you see on those who had scored higher?
     
    futuremathsprof likes this.
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Apr 13, 2018

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2016
    Messages:
    2,407
    Likes Received:
    1,180

    Apr 13, 2018

    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
    Obadiah and Backroads like this.
  7. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    3,215
    Likes Received:
    1,561

    Apr 13, 2018

    Yeah! I was like, wow, mind your business and no protection is not an excuse but... principal, come on!
     
  8. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

    Joined:
    May 18, 2007
    Messages:
    6,291
    Likes Received:
    278

    Apr 13, 2018

    Is it, “Needs improvement” or “Does not meet expectations”?

    Can you ask your P to sit down with you, and give specific examples of areas that were low?
     
  9. TeacherWhoRuns

    TeacherWhoRuns Companion

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2011
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    49

    Apr 13, 2018

    Ugh. Evaluations are so ridiculously subjective.
    I had to do two last year, in the fall and then in the late winter/early spring. In my first one, the principal made some suggestions. I put those into play and demonstrated them for my second observation. She then told me I shouldn't be doing that either, but something else entirely. Um....you were the one who told me to do it this way!
    This year she marked me down as below expectations on both observations for student engagement. One was because an autistic student was not participating in a call/response type of small group lesson. The other was because 20 minutes into the lesson, some six year olds got wiggly. Not disruptive, just not sitting perfectly still. Fortunately, she wrote all this on the form, so I'm pretty sure anyone looking at it would just roll their eyes.
    I totally get why you wanted to look at other scores. It's totally natural to want to know if others are being held to the same standard as you. I'm on a temp contract, and I'm certain my P judges the temp teachers more harshly than the ones she can't get rid of. From what people have been saying, every one of her observations has been nerve wracking.
    I don't have advice. I just wanted to say I get where you're coming from.
     
    Backroads likes this.
  10. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2002
    Messages:
    3,274
    Likes Received:
    38

    Apr 14, 2018

    Shame on the principal for not keeping those private and you shouldn't be looking at them anyway.

    Do you have a mentor teacher? Or someone in the building that is willing to help & support you? Find a teacher that everyone says is excellent and go watch that person teach. You may need to do this on your prep hour. Then talk with that teacher about what you saw.

    I also think that sometimes principals are told look for specific items, such as technology and if you don't use it during your formal observation you will get marked down for it.
     
  11. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,223
    Likes Received:
    1,157

    Apr 16, 2018

    We (site admin) have to do district walkthroughs at other sites. When we leave each classroom, we have to debrief. What I think was stellar, another administrator might think was subpar (and vice versa). Moreover, when you're evaluating a teacher you actually know, subjectivity most definitely comes into play: you know the teacher's style, you understand the students s/he has, you're aware of background information that others might not know, etc.
     
    Backroads likes this.
  12. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

    Joined:
    May 18, 2007
    Messages:
    6,291
    Likes Received:
    278

    Apr 17, 2018

    But isn't it true that you have to give some low marks, regardless?

    In my last review, my part time retail supervisor told me I was a perfect 10, but the manager said told her to change some of my scores! Said corporate wouldn't believe it, and I needed something to work on.

    Really?
     
  13. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,306
    Likes Received:
    783

    Apr 17, 2018

    When I first began, my evaluations had much to improve in, and these were valid judgments by the administrator. Teaching is a skill that takes time and actual on the job experience to develop. You are not a bad teacher. A bad teacher never sees room for improvement. Your concern proves that you are an excellent developing teacher. Even when you start obtaining perfect evaluations, a good teacher always seeks to improve. Because we are human, and because scientific understanding of teaching is constantly updating, there is always room for improvement.
     
    Backroads likes this.
  14. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    24,948
    Likes Received:
    2,096

    Apr 17, 2018

    Nope. Dont have to give low scores.
     
    futuremathsprof likes this.
  15. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    3,215
    Likes Received:
    1,561

    Apr 17, 2018

    In theory, I imagine supervisors/administers do want to be looking out for those who are dismally failing.

    This may unintentionally get translated as "be sure to give low scores here and there" or "make sure you fire someone every year".

    The former is good management. The second is bad management that's missing the mark.
     
  16. Been There

    Been There Habitué

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2017
    Messages:
    849
    Likes Received:
    514

    Apr 17, 2018

    I tend to agree with Obadiah - even those with perfect evals. should always strive to improve. Early in my career, the ratings on my evals meant a lot more to me, but the older I became the less they mattered. In fact, towards the latter half of my career, principals would: fail to show up at the appointed time, fall asleep in the middle of my lesson, and fail to have follow-up conferences with me. I learned not to take it personally.

    I once had the privilege of working in the personnel dept. of a 140-school district - part of my job was to access teachers' personnel files. I noticed that it wasn't uncommon for the worst teachers that I knew to have perfect scores on their evaluations! Perhaps their principals had slept through their observations too! In the overall scheme of things, the relative importance of evaluations probably varies from district to district.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018
    Backroads likes this.
  17. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    3,870
    Likes Received:
    1,076

    Apr 17, 2018

    But you’re using a rubric to determine if a teacher is meeting expectations, which is objective. For example, is the class generally engaged? Are students on task? Do students understand the objective of the day’s lesson? Is instruction being differentiated so that the teacher is reaching all learners? Is the teacher following the lesson plan? Is the teacher adequately employing classroom management techniques?

    These all seem like objective questions to me. Subjectivity should have little involvement when teachers are being evaluated, IMO.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
    Been There likes this.
  18. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    3,870
    Likes Received:
    1,076

    Apr 17, 2018

    This is outrageous. If you do everything right and as expected, shouldn’t you receive full marks?

    People in the Olympics, for example, have received perfect scores. It’s unlikely, but it’s still within the realm of possibility.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
    Been There likes this.
  19. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,223
    Likes Received:
    1,157

    Apr 17, 2018

    I know y'all probably don't use the California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTPs) in private schools; however, that's what most (all?) public schools use here to evaluate teachers. Take a look at the different areas. They be judged pretty subjectively, in my humble opinion.
     
    futuremathsprof likes this.
  20. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    3,870
    Likes Received:
    1,076

    Apr 17, 2018

    My admin use the same standards. They score us using a comprehensive grid and mark down the list as they do their observations and write how I accomplished each. The standards tend to overlap so they check multiple ones at the same time. It doesn’t seem subjective to me. I either accomplish the standard or I don’t. The implementation is either effective or it isn’t. The teacher uses effective teaching techniques or they don’t.
     
  21. greendream

    greendream Cohort

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Messages:
    597
    Likes Received:
    127

    Apr 18, 2018

    You don't see how "The implementation is either effective or it isn’t" could be subjective? Really?
     
  22. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    3,870
    Likes Received:
    1,076

    Apr 18, 2018

    The implementation is achieved if the students are attentive, engaged, correctly answer questions when asked, can complete the prescribed tasks, understand the objective(s), are taking notes or following along without having to be constantly reminded, and the classroom management is maintained. Otherwise, the techniques being used are ineffective.

    What is so intricate about that?
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018
  23. greendream

    greendream Cohort

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Messages:
    597
    Likes Received:
    127

    Apr 18, 2018

    Never said anything about "intricate," but those can definitely be subjective. For example, "are taking notes or following on without having to be constantly reminded." How do you define "constantly"? It might vary from one admin to the next. That's subjective. Likewise, "classroom management is maintained" is very broad, and quite subjective.
     
    Been There and a2z like this.
  24. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Apr 18, 2018

    Does this mean 100% engagement? If one kid is having an off day, does that mean that the teacher is definitely ineffective? If it's a bunch of high-achieving kids who would do these things on their own anyway, does that mean that the teacher is definitely effective?
     
    Backroads, Obadiah, otterpop and 2 others like this.
  25. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    3,870
    Likes Received:
    1,076

    Apr 18, 2018

    If you don’t use the aforementioned indicators, even for the high-achievers, how else would you assess teacher effectiveness? So the answer to your second question is affirmative. Here’s why: The students are doing what they are supposed to be doing and the teacher played a large role in that. High-achievers don’t always do all of these things on their own accord, at least at the high school level. They’re teenagers, after all.

    My administrators require these criteria for all classes, regardless of skill level. They require near 100% engagement (at least 90%), but they recognize that sometimes students have to be reminded to stay on task so they factor that into their evaluations as nobody is perfect. That’s not subjective, that’s reality.

    What I don’t like is reading about stories about how some admin score teachers as ineffective just because they think or feel they are. That, and evaluating a teacher when they have a substiute, which is ludicrous. How does it make sense to judge a teacher on how someone else teaches in their classroom?

    What the administrators should be doing is explaining exactly why a teacher is effective/ineffective in the report with objective facts, not opinions or feelings. For example: “futuremathsprof taught a lesson on separable differential equations. The objective(s) of the lesson were clearly revealed at the beginning of the lesson and the students were in their assigned seats when class started, came prepared, and were ready to learn. Students spoke out of turn on occasion, but we’re politely and calmly reminded to follow classroom procedures. Periodically, the teacher called on students at random and called upon students that volunteered their answers. While the lesson was going on, the teacher used a variety of manipulatives and relevant examples to demonstrate how to separate a variety of diffeq’s using the correct methods. He has a solid grasp of the concepts and explained in an easy-to-understand format.

    Upon reading through his lesson plans, he listed the applicable standards, taught said standards, and continually checked to gauge if the students understood using informal assessments.

    The teacher used minimal transition time in between tasks and students stayed on topic for the vast majority of class. As the class drew to a close, the teacher concluded the lesson and wrote the homework assignment on the static homework board. The teacher also reminded students of the upcoming quiz and gave other class updates.

    Near the end of the period, the students quietly packed up and waited to be released. The teacher say goodbye and began prepping for the next period.”

    My evaluations are very comprehensive and everything mentioned has a reason behind it, which is stated explicitly using objectivity.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2018
  26. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    3,870
    Likes Received:
    1,076

    Apr 18, 2018

    I define constantly using the textbook definition, so in this context, reptitiously and continually throughout the period. A few times is expected and acceptable.
     
  27. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    3,870
    Likes Received:
    1,076

    Apr 18, 2018

    Read the definitions below and put both together in a sentence.

    Definition of “classroom management”:

    Classroom management refers to the wide variety of skills and techniques that teachers use to keep students organized, orderly, focused, attentive, on task, and academically productive during a class.

    Definition of “maintained”:

    1. to keep in existence or continuance; preserve; retain

    2. to keep in an appropriate condition, operation, or force; keep unimpaired:
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018
  28. Been There

    Been There Habitué

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2017
    Messages:
    849
    Likes Received:
    514

    Apr 18, 2018

    I know what it's like to receive both kinds of evals. and can personally relate to the comments of greendream and futuremathsprof. Having worked with at least 16 different principals, I found that the majority would insert subjective comments into their final reports. Unless a district makes a special effort to PD their administrators to be objective evaluators of teachers, admins like futuremathsprof are probably the exception rather than the rule.

    In the final analysis, whether evals are objective or subjective is immaterial. Just be humble and accept whatever recommendations are made for improvement. I know of one ambitious principal who was so busy preparing for his promotion to the district office that he never completed several observations and evaluations - instead, he just copied prior evals for teachers' signatures! His new position was Personnel Director/Assistant Superintendent.

    BTW, it's really not necessary for anyone to be overly critical of the words that one chooses to use in this open forum. What I don't like is having to read the rants of professional American educators bickering over minutiae. I'm guessing it turns others off as well. But, then again it may just be my aversion to high horses!
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018
    Backroads likes this.
  29. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    3,870
    Likes Received:
    1,076

    Apr 18, 2018

    Wow, unbelievable. Some principal he was cutting corners like that.
     
  30. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2013
    Messages:
    3,807
    Likes Received:
    1,406

    Apr 18, 2018

    I think this depends on your supervisor/admin.

    I've met some bosses who will give perfect scores for average work. I've also met some that would not even give the most perfect teacher perfect scores, because they think no one can actually be perfect and everyone's got an area to improve.
     
  31. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2017
    Messages:
    1,485
    Likes Received:
    1,020

    Apr 18, 2018

    That's true.....there's one AP at my school who just gives everyone all 4s (highly effective) no matter what the lesson. I once did a very average lesson that was mostly teacher-centered lecture, and it came back with all 4s. Then I did a wonderful group activity for another very picky supervisor in my district, and it came back with mostly 3s (effective) and only a couple of 4s. She said it was a great lesson too, but that most teachers don't reach the 4 level except in a couple of areas. I could objectively say the second lesson was more effective, but it got lower scores than the first based on the observer.

    I've learned to just nod and not ask any questions. It's not like I get any extra pay or incentive for getting a higher observation score so as long as I don't fall below effective, I just agree with whatever they say and move on.
     
    futuremathsprof likes this.
  32. greendream

    greendream Cohort

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Messages:
    597
    Likes Received:
    127

    Apr 19, 2018

    Ok, I think I get it now. You really don't know what subjective means.
     
  33. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Apr 19, 2018

    So, 90% student engagement is definitely effective?

    I would further suggest that reminders to stay on task are indicators of effective teaching. A teacher is not responsible for the choices his student makes, but he is responsible for his response to those choices. If I had to measure teacher effectiveness, I'd much rather see a teacher actively redirecting and managing a bad class than a teacher passively handling a good class. The teacher with the good class may be effective, but I'm not seeing that if I'm not seeing that redirection and management. If I'm going to be rating teacher effectiveness, I need to see the presence of evidence, not the absence of problems.
     
  34. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    3,870
    Likes Received:
    1,076

    Apr 19, 2018

    This is fair and agreeable.
     
  35. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    3,870
    Likes Received:
    1,076

    Apr 19, 2018

    No, I just apply definitions as stated in the dictionary. I don’t abitrarily call things subjective just because I feel like it. Certain things don’t have gray areas just because you say they do.
     
  36. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Apr 19, 2018

    Teacher evaluations always include at least some subjectivity. You may feel that you're being evaluated objectively only, but that's not true.

    Furthermore, some subjectivity is a good and useful thing. There is research to support this. You can start here if you like.

    Abstract:
    A substantial literature documents large variation in teacher effectiveness at raising student achievement, providing motivation to identify highly effective and ineffective teachers early in their careers. Using data from New York City public schools, we estimate whether subjective evaluations of teacher effectiveness have predictive power for the achievement gains made by teachers' future students. We find that these subjective evaluations have substantial power, comparable with and complementary to objective measures of teacher effectiveness taken from a teacher's first year in the classroom.
     
    Backroads likes this.
  37. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    3,215
    Likes Received:
    1,561

    Apr 19, 2018

    What if, do to conditions a given student has, said student does need to be frequently redirected? What if the admin sees a teacher redirecting a student as "poor teaching"--example: if the teacher were good, all student conditions affecting attention span and understanding would be magically neutralized.

    Also, what does "engaged" look like? Does it look like students looking at the teacher? Again, what if some students must "fidget" in order to be able to pay attention? What if the lesson at hand required a different level of engagement (exciting and active vs not).

    It can definitely be subjective.
     
    greendream and Caesar753 like this.
  38. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    3,870
    Likes Received:
    1,076

    Apr 19, 2018

    Engaged means to participate in or be involved in or to occupy someone’s interest or attention. If the students are engaged, then I have their full or near full attention’s and they are focusing on the lesson, task(s), or activity/activities at hand. If they are not doing that, then they are not engaged, by definition.

    All of my lesson plans have a section that lists the students with learning differences/accommodations so the principal would know, for instance, exactly which student has to fidget to pay attention. To clarify, I once taught a student with extreme ADHD — which was listed in the provided lesson plan — and he was one of the most squirrelly students I’ve ever had. He physically could not sit still because his mind is so active. The principal was aware of this and took that into account when writing my eval. I was marked highly in part because the student in question and I developed a system where whenever he would turn around, which was quite often, I would lightly tap the top of his desk and that would redirect his attention. This was quick yet effective. Also, he was situated near my desk in the corner, so this was very easy to manage.
     
    Backroads likes this.
  39. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    3,870
    Likes Received:
    1,076

    Apr 19, 2018

    I guess subjectivity has its uses, as the research paper suggests. I would argue, then, that it is more useful for certain teachers and not myself. As a mathematician, I like right or wrong answers. I am not comfortable with answers that are in between. If I am doing something that is ineffective or needs improvement, then I want to be told exactly how to improve and which methodologies that can be implemented to achieve said improvement. I would not like to be told, “Something seems off. I just feel that more can be done to garner student attention. Try something else.” How is that more useful than someone saying, “Try to redirect students with minimal transition time. Situate them in the classroom so they have fewer distractions like in the front of the classroom or in the corner of the room. Take attendance when the students are reading or doing group work to save time.” ?

    I like explicit instructions, not ambiguity.
     
  40. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Apr 19, 2018

    I think that you are confusing subjectivity with vagueness or equivocation, and these are not the same things.

    Subjectivity does have its place in teacher evaluations. Have you ever walked into a classroom with a really great vibe? How about one with a bad vibe? It's hard to put into words what makes one classroom different from the other in terms of vibe. Of course you can identify some things, like by describing the physical environment or recording the conversations between the teacher and students, but you can't always identify everything that makes a classroom feel the way it does. I've been in classrooms that looked awesome, where the teacher was doing and saying all the right things, where students appeared to be on task--where everything felt negative, bad, unhappy, unpleasant. Is that teacher effective? Well, maybe. The teacher may be effective when it comes to instruction but maybe not so much when it comes to rapport, which is part of my formal teacher evaluation.

    Subjectivity comes in many forms. Even in your own example of engagement, that's fairly subjective, too. Engaged students look at their teacher, right? But is every student who is looking at the teacher engaged? Engaged students take notes, right? But is the student--whose hand was injured in PE class earlier that day--who is not taking notes not engaged? Students who are texting on their phones are not engaged, right? But what about the student who glances at the clock on his phone once during the class period or uses his phone to take notes in a Google doc? Then you have situations where students may be taking a short brain break during an exam, maybe closing their eyes for a minute or stretching or staring off into the middle distance for a while before getting back to it. Anyone who sees only that behavior may assume that the students are off task, when in reality they are fully on task and engaging in activities that will improve their chances for success.

    I can assure you that I'm amazing at looking like I'm paying attention when I am absolutely not, and I'm sure that some students have a similar skill. It's up to the evaluator to take everything into account and make a judgment call, a subjective one, as to whether what she is seeing constitutes engagement or not.
     
    MrsC, Backroads and Been There like this.
  41. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    3,870
    Likes Received:
    1,076

    Apr 19, 2018

    Being engaged is pretty obvious. You’re trying very hard to make it subjective when it is not. Just because you glance at the clock it does not mean you are not engaged. That’s not how it works. A student is not engaged, for example, if they refuse to write notes, refuse to participate, keep talking with the person next to them while the teacher is instructing, are doing things besides what they were directed to do and which has nothing to do with the specified task. They have to make a concerted effort to be insubordinate. That’s not engaged. I’ve just defined what being engaged means. Selecting one aspect of the definition and saying, well, if the student does that one thing, then the student is engaged is inaccurate. Minutiae like what you mentioned are negligible and trivial.
     
    Backroads likes this.

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Preschool0929,
  2. LilyJames38,
  3. Linguist92021,
  4. Backroads
Total: 571 (members: 4, guests: 546, robots: 21)
test