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One Week

Jen Robinson Uncategorized

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Lately, I have been thinking about teacher evaluations, classroom observations and walkthroughs. As our first quarter of school came to a close, I stopped to reflect on my practice. What data, comments or feedback helps teachers move their practice forward? Do we as administrators provide enough support for teachers? Honestly I don’t feel very effective at all these days. I’m not sure what changed, but this year when I complete observations it feels like I am just going through the motions and I am checking off boxes. I wonder, what does a once or twice a year evaluation provide teachers?

In Now We’re Talking, Justin Baeder talks about a model of classroom visits that are: frequent, brief, substantive, open-ended, evidence based, criterion referenced and conversation oriented. He also discusses finding a balance between frequency and practicality. An interesting fact he sites is if you visit 10% of your teachers on a daily basis over the course of a 180 day year you’ll reach everyone about eighteen times. He took it a step further and broke it down to three daily visits or 15 each week. 

Daily = 3

Weekly = 15

This breakdown helped me refocus and shift my thinking. I came back to school completely energized and excited about getting into classrooms. I could surely find 45 minutes each day to spend observing in three classrooms, right? This past weekend I spent more time than usual planning out my days and scheduling my observation round visits. I looked for pockets of time I could squeeze in an observation. You know when you have 20 minutes before lunch duty or an extra 45 minutes before leaving for your  district meeting or 30 minutes before dismissal. 

Here is my week – what I planned and what I actually accomplished:

Monday

7:00 Monthly New Teacher Meeting

7:30 Evaluation Pre Conference

8:15-8:45 Observation Rounds – ESS             

 8:50-9:20 Evaluation Pre Conference

9:20-9:50 Evaluation Pre Conference              

9:50-10:20 EvaluationPre Conference

10:20-10:50 Observation Rounds Grade 2      

11:00-11:40 Kindergarten lunch Duty

11:45-12:15 Lunch                                                  

12:15-12:25 Fifth Grade Lunch Duty

12:30-1:30 Math Evaluation Kinder Class       

1:30-2:00 Observation Rounds Grade 3

2:00-3:00 Paraprofessional Interviews           

3:10-3:30 Dismissal

Here is what I actually accomplished:

8:20-8:32 ESS K-2 Teacher 1 

8:33-8:45 ESS K-2 Teacher 2 

10:30-10:45 Grade 2 Teacher 1

Okay, in planning I thought I would surpass my goal of three observations, but looking back I am feeling pretty good. I am on target to reach 15 for the week. Right?

Tuesday

7:15-8:00 Problem Solving Meeting

8:15-8:45 Observation Rounds – ESS

9:00-10:00 District Family Planning Team @ District Office

10:00-12:00 Principal’s Meeting  @ District Office

12:15-12:25 Fifth Grade Lunch Duty

12:30-1:00 Math Evaluation Kindergarten Class

1:00-2:00 Math Evaluation ESS Class

2:00-3:00 Observation Rounds 

3:10-3:30 Dismissal

Here is what I actually accomplished:

8:25-8:40 ESS 3-5 Teacher 1 

Ugh, I am not feeling too effective today. But I did not anticipate a visit by the police and department of child services. 

Wednesday

8:15-8:45 Observation Rounds – Grade 4

9:20-9:50 Evaluation Pre Conference

9:50-10:20 EvaluationPre Conference

10:20-11:00 Math Evaluation Kindergarten Class

11:00-11:40 Kindergarten lunch Duty

11:45-12:15 Lunch

12:15-12:45 Fifth Grade Lunch Duty

12:45-1:00 

1:10 Early Release

1:10-1:30 Dismissal

Here is what I actually accomplished:

8:30-8:45 Grade 4 Teacher 1 

8:50-9:00 Grade 4 Teacher 2 

9:00-9:15 Grade 4 Teacher 3

Today I am feeling pretty good about my progress and really staying fully present when I am observing. I am interacting with the scholars and learning about who they are as learners and who they are as little people. I learned Liberty loves horses and she just got a new horse. When she was telling me about it, her face lit up and she was able to paint a picture so clearly that I could see her with her horse. In one class, I observed the scholars sharing their wildly important goals with their accountability partners and talking about their action steps. They reflected on their progress from the day before and set new goals sharing how they would accomplish them. I also shared with them that I needed their help. I explained that my goal was to observe in three classrooms each day. They assured me they would help and check in with me. 

Thursday

7:00 Monthly New Teacher Meeting

7:30 Evaluation Pre Conference

8:30-9:00 Scholar on Special Assignment Meeting

9:00-10:00 Observation Rounds – Grade 5

10:00-10:30 Paraprofessional Interview

10:30-11:00 Observation Rounds – Grade 3

11:00-11:30 Math Evaluation Resource

11:30-12:00 Lunch

12:15-12:25 Fifth Grade Lunch Duty

12:30-1:30 Math Evaluation Kindergarten Class

1:30-2:15 Math Evaluation ESS Class

2:15-3:00 

3:10-3:30 Dismissal

Here is what I actually accomplished:

0 Observation Rounds 

Today I realized, even the best made plans need to be flexible. Although I had several opportunities to complete my three visits, interruptions happened. A surprising thing happened today. I was helping with fourth grade lunch duty and several scholars from a class I had visited on Wednesday asked how I was doing with my classroom visits. It was humbling telling them that I didn’t get it done yet. They proceeded to ask me what my plan was to accomplish it, just like they had with their accountability partner. This made me realize how important classroom visits are in building relationships. 

Friday

8:20-8:50 Teacher Evaluation Pre Conference

8:50-9:50 Observation Rounds – Grade 5

9:50-10:20 Teacher Evaluation Post Conference

10:20-11:00 Observation Rounds – Grade 3

11:00-11:30 Kindergarten Lunch Duty

11:30-12:00 Lunch

12:15-12:25 Fifth Grade Lunch Duty

12:30-1:30 Math Evaluation Kindergarten Class

1:30-1:50 

1:50-2:50 Art Evaluation Grade 5

2:50-3:10 Art Evaluation Post Conference

3:10-3:30 Dismissal

Here is what I actually accomplished:

8:45-9:00 Grade 4 Teacher 4

9:00-9:15 Grade 5 Teacher 1

1:25-1:45 Grade 2 Teacher 2 

Today I realized several classes are assessing and taking weekly formatives. I want to touch base with teachers to get a better understanding of how much time is spent on assessments and how the data is used. I also learned that although I did not reach my goal of 15 observations, I did make new connections with scholars. These observations gave me an opportunity to just be when I went into classes. Typically when I complete a formal observation I am trying to capture everything and fit it into the evaluation tool and I miss so much.

How do you make time for what is most important each week?

 

 

Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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Comments 1

  1. Jaime Festa-Daigle

    When I went through evaluation training I was told if I didn’t have time for feedback to not even bother doing a walkthrough. The power of the walkthrough is in the feedback. I swore I would never leave school without at least emailing my feedback. And while that sounds so easy, there were days where it was so difficult. There comes a point where you have to cut yourself off from doing one more thing. I totally agree, frequent and short observations are so important. And we as administrators really need to change our schedules to make that happen consistently. I know some leaders use Breakthrough Coaching to turn the corner.

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