How to Change Your Lens when Evaluating Teachers

How to Change Your Lens when Evaluating Teachers

Early this spring, I listened to a webinar presented by Professor John Hattie titled 10 Mindframes for Visible Learning: Teaching for Success.

Through his research, he discovered that for the most part, everything works. Just by having a pulse you learn.

The critical question he posed was “What works best?” to influence student achievement.

His research now consists of 250 influences on student achievement from 1400 meta-analyses of 80,000 studies involving 300 million students.

A statement in the webinar that resonated with me was on the topic of teacher evaluation. If you are an administrator who evaluates teachers it is time to change your perspective.

Instead of evaluating the teacher through the lens of how is he/she teaching, evaluate the teachers through the lens of the impact the teacher has on student learning and progress.

In order to do that you must see the teacher from the student’s perspective. Isn’t it more important to know the teacher’s impact on the students they teach versus what or how he or she did it? 

Consider selecting three to four students in the classroom and take note of how the students are being impacted by the teacher.

Instead of evaluating the teacher through the lens of how is he/she teaching, evaluate the teachers through the lens of the impact the teacher has on student learning and progress.

During a pair-share does student “A” who you are watching, engage with his partner or just passively listen? 

Ask student “B” the following:

“What are you learning?”

“Why are you learning it?”

How are you progressing in your learning?” 

If students are able to respond to these questions, the teacher is developing assessment-capable learners in their classroom, which has an effect size of 1.33.

Assessment capable learners are active in the learning process and not passive receptacles.

Take notice of student “C” as she is struggling with a math problem.

She references her notes for the steps to take to complete the problem. She finds where her error is and corrects it. She is then able to finish the problem.

This student was persistent and did not give up.

Concentration, persistence, and engagement have an effect size of .56. This is above the hinge point of .40 and in the zone of desired effects. 

The point is, you can learn about the teacher’s impact on student learning from the student’s actions and words and not from watching what the teacher does.

This does not mean the teacher does not matter as the teacher has the greatest impact on student learning and progress. 

This is just a different way to approach teacher evaluation.  It is from the student’s perspective and the impact the teacher is having on the students.

As a former remedial reading teacher at the middle school level, I can remember students I impacted and those I did not.

The point is, you can learn about the teachers impact on student learning from the student’s actions and words and not from watching what the teacher does.

The difference between the two comes down to developing positive teacher-student relationships.

Teacher-student relationships has an effect size of .52 and this can make or break the impact you have on just one or all the students in your classroom. 

So, here is your challenge to test while looking through a different lens… 

The next time you conduct a walkthrough or learning walk and venture into a teacher’s classroom, focus on a few students.

Watch them and how the teacher is impacting their learning.

Talk to the students and ask them about their learning and how they are progressing.

Whatever you discover, it is still the teacher that is either having or not having an impact on the students you watched and talked to.

What students are doing, how they are interacting, and what they are saying can tell you a wealth of information about the teacher’s impact on their learning. 

As a new school year is here. I challenge you to try a new lens when you go into a classroom.

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Tracey Shiel

Tracey Shiel is author and consultant with over 20 years in the field of education. Through Thought Partners, she provides research-based educational services including balanced leadership coaching, professional development, implementation planning and execution support, and special educational projects of the highest quality. Her passion is with coaching educational leaders to achieve school and district improvement goals while enhancing leadership capabilities.