Why Teacher Evaluation Puts Students at the Center

One of the great things about being a national presenter and education consultant is traveling to different parts of the country and meeting the educators leading implementation of the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model in their districts and schools. Teachers and administrators, who are on the cutting edge of a national education reform effort, are all experiencing the same sort of excitement, renewal, challenge, and urgency.  We are all having the same conversation.

Teacher Evaluation Fosters Collaboration

Recently, in the very early morning of a hot summer day, I drove the long stretch of highway along the coast to work with a group of district leaders who were planning the rollout of the Marzano framework for the upcoming year. As I pulled into the parking lot, surrounded by palm trees, ocean, and big sky, I wondered what thoughts, questions, and discussions the day might bring. I also wondered, as I always do, if I was in the right place!  As soon as I entered the building, there was no doubt.  The outside setting dropped away, the butterflies in my stomach subsided, and within minutes, I was among friends—professional colleagues. 

We talked about schools, students, teachers, new hires, new curriculum, new mandates, and new timelines.  And then we got even more specific and discussed classroom observations, writing scales, and planning ways to celebrate success. This kind of talk is comfort food for the educator’s soul.

K-12 Educators Share a Focus

Whether I work in the high desert of Nevada or near the beaches of Florida, whether I’m in North Dakota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, or Ohio, I hear the same conversation everywhere I go: 

From teachers:
• I just want to know how I can get better.
• This matches so well with the Common Core alignment we’re doing.
• The more my principal is in my room, the better! 
• This puts the students at the center. 

From principals:
• We have really good teachers here.
• We’re doing a lot of this already.
Lesson Segment 1 will be an early focus for us.
• This puts the students at the center. 

From District Office leaders:
• This really brings together all of the things we’re doing.
• Our district’s done a lot of work on……..(building relationships, problem-based learning, student behavior, formative assessment).
• We’re going work on laying the groundwork and getting buy-in from our staff.
• This puts the students at the center.

Instructional Strategies Put Students at the Center

Teachers, principals, and district office leaders all recognize that talking about the effect of instructional strategies on students as part of teacher growth is a change from earlier conversations about education reform and teacher evaluation. Teachers are going beyond the “I taught it” stage to ask, “But did they learn it?” and, “How do I know?”  The classroom feedback loop – from teacher to student, from student to teacher—puts the student at the center. 

August is Connected Educator Month

The U.S. Department of Education has declared August Connected Educator Month. As the school year gears up, we may get focused inward on our own classrooms, buildings, or district concerns, but we are part of a larger professional learning community, stretching farther than we know, bigger than we think. There are thousands of educators talking about Marzano’s common language, working on creating scales to align to Common Core standards, beginning to understand the importance of thinking in “thin slices.”

Get Connected!

If you haven’t already, get connected with other Marzano educators through the Learning Sciences Marzano Center Twitter feed, Facebook pages, and blog. Here you will find hundreds of other educators who are all walking the walk and talking the talk to put students at the center, with purpose and dedication.

Share your expertise! Tell us what you do to make sure you’re connected. Or use the comments space below to ask us a question. We’d love to hear from you.

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