Last week, we learned about Dr. Ilene Winokur’s lifelong love of education, which has led her from teaching third grade at an American school in Kuwait to her current post as managing director of Specialized Solutions, Kuwait’s first and only educational consulting company.
Recently, Winokur wrote an article for an international education journal, focusing on Kuwait and the knowledge economy. In it, she described the current state of education in Kuwait, along with the steps all stakeholders are taking to prepare students for a world that will need critical thinkers and problem-solvers.
“Although there are many barriers to change in Kuwait’s schools, private and public,” she says, “I am very hopeful about the future of education in Kuwait, and I believe the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model can play an important role in a successful outcome.”
Evaluation Should Promote Growth
A problem Winokur has encountered in Kuwaiti schools is that evaluation models are often used to make decisions about hiring and merit pay, rather than as a tool for professional growth. With evaluations widely serving as measurement tools for human resources professionals, teachers have become increasingly suspicious of – and uncomfortable with – the evaluation process.
However, she adds, “The Marzano model makes sense to them and they quickly make the connection to how it can positively affect their daily practice. I am very excited to have partnered with the Marzano Center to bring the model to Kuwait and the region. I believe it will be a catalyst for positive change in schools.”
Reflective Teacher Presentation
In recent months, Winokur has presented a variety of workshops about becoming a reflective teacher. Using the model to teach the model, she has encouraged participants to discuss Marzano strategies while viewing videos of teachers at work in their classrooms.
“Discussions were lively,” she recalls, especially when she asked them to rate the teachers in the videos on the performance scale. However, this exercise turned out to be an extremely enlightening experience.
“Each time, the ratings varied, so I told the participants that we needed to have IRR (inter-rater reliability), which meant all of us agreeing on one rating. There were so many ‘aha’ moments as the teachers discussed why they rated the teacher a certain way. We focused on the evidence and then determined what rating the teacher should receive and why. The simplicity of the scale, along with attention to the evidence, was so convincing that you could visibly see the acceptance of the correct rating on the teachers’ faces.”
Although continuing professional development is essential to improving classroom practice, it isn’t sufficient as a stand-alone solution, according to Winokur. It must be tied to a framework that offers clear measurement, in the form of scales, connected to goals – and it all must make sense to teachers.
“The Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model provides the targeted goals and focused feedback that motivate teachers to reflect and then make the necessary adjustments to their use of strategies,” she explains. “School districts can use the model to guide teachers’ professional growth, while supporting them with the resources necessary for their development.”
Unwavering Support is Essential
One of the most important things teachers should do, Winokur firmly believes, is to provide unwavering support while encouraging students to accept ownership of their own learning. This can be challenging at times, but she knows it’s worth the effort.
“When I was teaching, I made a point to tell students if they tried, I would work hard for them to succeed. I think it is also important to be sure students know you care about how they do, even when it seems that they don’t care.“