how would you feel about this?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by FourSquare, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Messages:
    2,842
    Likes Received:
    321

    Mar 14, 2013

    My district has mandated that all schools have a team of admin and "teacher leaders" to plan the direction of the school. Anyone can join, but per usual with any group, the same 6-8 people show up to meetings. I come to this group because I like to hear what's going on with the school community as a whole and try to get involved as best I can.

    One of our tasks is to do 5 minute walkthroughs of classrooms as a team, looking for evidence of whatever professional practice our school is focusing on. Up until now, these walks have been announced and by grade band. (6-8, etc.) The walkthrough group picks teachers from that band out of a hat and each person is assigned an observation role. It is NOT evaluative. We literally just report what we see anonymously. Admin also gives teachers feedback on the good things they're doing.

    Someone (Not me, really! :haha:) suggested we make these visits unannounced. Several walkthroughs have resulted in some teachers freaking out mid-lesson and suddenly "turning on" whatever practice we are focusing on. It's super clear who does these practices on a daily basis and who's just putting on a dog and pony show. :whistle: It sometimes difficult to get accurate school-wide trends if people are faking what they do.

    The team is really divided on what to do. Some people feel like teachers should have time to "prepare." Some people feel like a true snapshot should be a true snapshot....(with respect that is IS a snapshot.)

    Would you be offended if a group of colleagues came in to your room unannounced if you knew what they were there for?
     
  2.  
  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,606
    Likes Received:
    2,714

    Mar 14, 2013

    All our walkthroughs are unannounced. To me, that's how it should be, especially if the goal is to see how things are working on a daily basis.
     
  4. Auter12

    Auter12 Comrade

    Joined:
    May 10, 2010
    Messages:
    319
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 14, 2013

    I say, announce the first few to establish a norm (which it sounds like they were) and then just pop in on them. If they're doing what they're supposed to be, then why would they get upset about it. They should be taking the time to "prepare" anyway.:2cents:
     
  5. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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

    Mar 14, 2013

    Our district does walk-throughs. We know what day & time they are coming, not who they are visiting.
     
  6. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    6,363
    Likes Received:
    2,238

    Mar 14, 2013

    Several unannounced at various times would show a more clear picture.

    I don't see why offense should even be part of the equation. Everyone was given the opportunity to participate. If the teacher is consistently following through on the focus of the school, several visits would show that focus more times than not.

    I hate the dog and pony show. Evaluations or sorts are to see what is happening on a day-to-day basis, not what someone is potentially capable if they have time and outside help to prepare.
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    24,959
    Likes Received:
    2,116

    Mar 14, 2013

    Our new evaluation system calls for a number of unannounced mini observations.
    The OP's committee and unannounced visits sounds like it would not be good for building morale and trust among colleagues.:(
     
  8. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

    Joined:
    May 10, 2011
    Messages:
    917
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 14, 2013

    I, personally, would not be offended.

    But I know a lot of people who would be. I would suggest using someone neutral (not teachers) to do these walkthroughs, if at all possible.
     
  9. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2011
    Messages:
    5,770
    Likes Received:
    1,004

    Mar 14, 2013

    Sometimes I would rather that our observations were unannounced, rather than announced, because when they're announced I freak out. My P has a habit of telling me the day, but not the period, and that's even worse because I'm on my toes in suspense "is she gonna come in now? No? How about now?!"

    Either tell me all or tell me nothing.
     
  10. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

    Joined:
    May 28, 2006
    Messages:
    1,265
    Likes Received:
    11

    Mar 14, 2013

    At my school, the admins drop in unannounced quite frequently. I'm so used to it, that I don't think much about it.
     
  11. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    10,924
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 14, 2013

    I think it is different if your evaluator (principal) is dropping by unannounced. A team of teachers doing a walk-through that is non-evaluative is much different.

    I'm sure that these walk-throughs aren't meant to become part of the teacher's evaluation, but when you report to the administration about what you see...(someone may very well use a name).
     
  12. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    7,946
    Likes Received:
    4

    Mar 14, 2013

    I can certainly understand how some people would be uncomfortable with this. I'm not loving it.

    1. Teachers reporting "on" other teachers. May sound good in theory, but...uh, I can imagine that getting ugly fast.
    2. At least one teacher is a first year teacher at the school (right...you?), which I can see would just further bother some. Rght or wrong. I know I wouldn't feel comfortable doing a walkthrough as a new or new-to-the-school teacher.
    3. In my experience, snapshots in general are so rarely viewed as such. If you don't refer to your I Can statement in the five minutes they're in the room, for example, administrators later remind you to do so...clearly demonstrating they really do assume you're not when of course you are at the appropriate time. This is why people "freak out" and "turn on" whatever is being focused on at the school at the moment.
     
  13. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Messages:
    883
    Likes Received:
    1

    Mar 14, 2013

    Our previous principal did "learning walks", which sound like what your school is now doing. They were somewhat announced in that teachers would know the period of the visit, but not the classrooms that were to be visited.

    I moved into an administrative position in my district this year, and now evaluate all of the teachers in my subject area. I stopped into six of their classrooms today for unannounced visits. None of them knew that I was coming in, because I wanted a "snapshot" of a typical lesson.
     
  14. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2007
    Messages:
    4,466
    Likes Received:
    1,494

    Mar 14, 2013

    My principal does at least one unannounced walkthrough each week. No biggie...she knows what kind of teacher I am (even if the kids are only doing an independent practice worksheet when she observes). She's seen me in action so many times that I don't even blink when she arrives.

    BUT...about 2-3 times a year we have "district administrative walkthroughs" which include ALL district admins. coming to a site and walking through every classroom to observe. My principal always gives us a time frame that they'll be visiting classrooms because they want to see a direct instrucion lesson--they don't want to see the kids doing independent practice, music, art, a science experiment, or anything else besides a direct instruction lesson.

    I don't know of anyone who's a fan of the district administrative walkthroughs. Having such a huge groups of people (who we lovingly refer to as "the suits") watch you for 15-20 minutes is so incredibly unnerving. Additionally, we get ZERO feedback about what they liked/disliked. Without hearing some sort of feedback (positive or negative) we can't improve our craft. It's pointless.
     
  15. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2006
    Messages:
    7,075
    Likes Received:
    15

    Mar 14, 2013

    I think things should be unannounced. My formal evaluation was just unannounced last week. I could have scheduled it with her, and she would have come. But I completely forgot, so she popped in. I have no problem with it- I have nothing to hide.

    However, I agree a bit with the teachers popping in. It could definitely cause an upset amongst teachers, which is never good.
     
  16. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Messages:
    2,842
    Likes Received:
    321

    Mar 14, 2013

    There is always an admin present, so there's that.

    Again, it's not evaluative. It's just to see what's going on. We have to report data like 3/5 classrooms has XYZ happening, but individual notes are not published. Feedback is given to the teacher by admin. Honestly, I've decided it doesn't bother me. My previous schools had open door policies and people were in there ALL the time. I have various terrible videos of me teaching. I am used to people so I am less nervous.

    Also, these walkthroughs have been really helpful to me as a new teacher. I've picked up a lot of great ideas from my colleagues and I'm sad that so many people are closeted with their practice. I guess they have a right to be, but still.

    I don't know how we are to build a collaborative culture if nobody will share ideas and everyone is suspicious of everyone else. :(
     
  17. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    7,946
    Likes Received:
    4

    Mar 14, 2013

    If an administrator will always be present, what is the purpose of teachers tagging along?

    I think human nature will screw this up. :sorry:
     
  18. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    6,156
    Likes Received:
    996

    Mar 14, 2013

    I really think it depends on the culture and climate of the school. We did these at my old school and it really wasn't a big deal. We had a school wide goal for students to know the "learning target" and "criteria for success" for each lesson if they were asked. The entire school followed the same basic schedule, so we would go maybe 30-40 minutes into a certain subject and pick 3 students each and say, "What are you learning?" and "How do you know you're doing a good job?" We would then make a percentage of how many kids school wide knew when asked. I think this worked because:
    1. ALL teachers were involved in this process, not just some "special" group that got to do walkthroughs
    2. The walkthroughs were led by master teachers, not the P, and no one was "reporting back" about individual teachers.
    3. The skill we were looking for was basic and should have been able to be shown in any lesson. It didn't matter if the teacher was saying the LT/CFS while we were in there, just that she had it posted and students knew what it was. That eliminated any anxiety about doing something specific in the few minutes that the walkthroughs were happening.
    4. We were a close faculty and people trusted each other. No one had to worry about anyone "tattling" on other people, and the admin was not vindictive or "out to get" anyone. The culture in the building was very positive.

    My current building just does not have that culture. It would NEVER work for us. I am just imagining how much the teachers would freak out if it were even mentioned. Even having a positive experience with it before, I would be very upset if my current school tried it. I wouldn't trust people to be honest about what they saw, or I would be worried that they'd come in and purposely ask the 3 lowest kids in my class...backstabbing to "get ahead" or be buddy-buddy with the P is quite a problem in my school and my P is VERY vindictive and always "targeting" someone.
     
  19. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Messages:
    2,842
    Likes Received:
    321

    Mar 14, 2013

    Anybody can come! Not just the people who regularly attend meetings. Some teachers complained that they never get to see their team teachers teach and they would like to learn from them. This is a good opportunity for that. Some people also liked to see work from the grades above or below theirs.

    I think it's just interesting. :dunno: People have made it entirely too dramatic. :2cents: I will respect what the majority decides, I guess!
     
  20. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    7,946
    Likes Received:
    4

    Mar 14, 2013

    I still don't get it, I don't guess.

    You said an administrator will be present with a teacher conducting walk-throughs, but you also say the purpose is to collect data as to the percentage of classrooms demonstrating a particular targeted issue during the window of the walk-through. Why are two people needed? Seems like a waste of time (and will cause unnecessary issues in the building).

    If it's about teachers observing other teachers to better understand their students or get ideas (which can be great!), then I think it's a much better idea for teachers to use their planning or be given some other release time to sit down and truly observe other classrooms.
     
  21. strepsils

    strepsils Companion

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 15, 2013

    Wouldn't it be great if these teachers were observing good practice in order to better themselves? Creating a professional learning community.
     
  22. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,606
    Likes Received:
    2,714

    Mar 15, 2013

    A lot of the walkthroughs in my building are done by a team of people--all administrators and strategists. Their belief is that it's better if they do these observations as a group because it helps create a system of checks and balances to ensure that they're all looking for and seeing the same things. They have a very, very lengthy form that they fill out on each visit, and then after they leave the classroom they compare results.
     
  23. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    7,946
    Likes Received:
    4

    Mar 15, 2013

    I guess I'm just someone not fond of the idea as a whole as presented...
     
  24. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Messages:
    1,934
    Likes Received:
    257

    Mar 15, 2013

    "Learning Walks" are prescribed by Tony Wagner in The Global Achievement Gap. I'd recommend anyone wary of the idea read the book.

    If you read it and still are against them I'd be quite surprised.
     
  25. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    7,946
    Likes Received:
    4

    Mar 15, 2013

    To be clear, although I think I said it already, I love the idea of teachers being able to visit other classrooms! :)
     
  26. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,606
    Likes Received:
    2,714

    Mar 15, 2013

    That's fair enough. Depending on a lot of different factors, there are many valid reasons that a person might not love the idea of classroom walkthroughs. In schools with particular climates, any observation can be seen as something evaluative, even if it's "unofficial". Teachers who make mistakes might be afraid of write-ups and targeting. Teachers might be used as examples of what not to do, which would obviously be demeaning and humiliating.

    I think that the classroom walkthrough routine can be excellent if teachers trust the observers and if the observers really use the data that they collect to help support and train teachers. I don't think that the classroom walkthroughs should result in anything punitive, on or off the record, or that they should be used to embarrass or single out a teacher or group of teachers.

    As for me, I don't mind walkthroughs. I am proud of what happens in my classroom and I want to show it off. What I don't like, however, are the constant disruptions that a group of adults gawking at my students causes. Often, the observers talk to individual students and ask them questions about what they're doing and why they're doing it. I completely understand the purpose behind the questions, but I don't like that it puts my students on display. It makes them nervous; they're afraid to mess up in front of someone important or afraid that they'll get their teacher in trouble if they say the wrong thing. That's not a great way to establish a positive classroom atmosphere, and it's not a great way to promote learning.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. stargirl,
  2. Chocolaccino
Total: 252 (members: 6, guests: 225, robots: 21)
test