Focusing on Effective Teaching Strategies Can Change the Conversation About Professional Development

Florida principals are now able to provide specific feedback to improve teacher practice.

Administrators and teachers sometimes bemoan the changes in teacher assessment from a simple, quick summative evaluation to a formative, complex assessment of teacher performance requiring much training.

Some refrains I hear when I give trainings around the state:

“What was wrong with the old system?”

“I have been doing it that way for 30 years—why must I change?”

“I don’t have time!”

The truth of the matter is, as a profession, educators rarely assessed their core business—teacher instruction. Administrators didn’t necessarily have deep knowledge of teacher pedagogy, and weren’t always able to help teachers improve. As a result, fifty percent of teachers were leaving the profession in the first five years. Instead of making suggestions on how to improve their pedagogy, administrators were more likely to tell teachers:

“You have no control over your classroom!”

“You are giving out too many F’s!”

“You are writing too many referrals!”

“I am getting too many phone calls from parents!”

We needed a research-based model for teaching that both administrators and teachers understood, with a “common language” for discussing what good teaching looks like; that can help drive professional development; improve teacher and administrator capacity; and serve as a formative and summative evaluation for teachers. The impetus for a model of teaching, and our sudden focus on instructional leadership, has been federal and state legislation. When student achievement counts as 50 percent of the final evaluation score of teachers in Florida, we have a clear need for improved instruction. No longer can strategic moves to outsmart state grades suffice! In addition, the move to Common Core State Standards and PARCC assessments drive us to teach at a higher level than ever before.

As a result of knowing and using the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model, administrators have improved the quality of the feedback they offer teachers:
“Your classroom is out of control because you have not developed classroom rules. More importantly, you need to practice the procedures that operationalize those rules. Let’s develop a plan for doing so, and I will come back and see how you are doing.”

“One reason you have so many F’s is that students don’t have anything to work towards. Let’s look at developing learning goals and how to track their progress, and see if it helps. I will come back in a week and see how you are doing!”

“Your referrals may be a result of students being disengaged during your lessons. Let’s look at Design Question 5, Engaging Students, and pick out a few strategies you can use when you notice students are off task. I will come back later and see how you are doing!”

“I may be getting so many phone calls from parents because you are not teaching deep enough. You introduce new knowledge, test, and move to the next topic. If you chunk the information, teach it with rigor using Design Questions 2, 3 and 4, students will develop more interest and you can build on it. Let’s look at scaffolding your lessons so you are teaching with more rigor”!

These are the type of comments we will hear from administrators as they embrace and implement the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model.

How has the feedback you’ve gotten from your administrators changed since your school implemented the Marzano Model? Let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!

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