Lately, I have noticed something was afoot.  I saw school administrators visit and observe my class several times over the past week.  I was not alone.  This team of observers jumped from one class to the next.  They weren’t there to evaluate, rather just look for best-practices in our school’s classrooms.  I haven’t seen this, save planned evaluations, in years.

“WhoooHooooo!”

This is a good step forward to break down the isolation teachers (and the system) build into our teaching practices.  We spend so many hours in professional development and meetings learning about best-practices dealing with curriculum, instruction, and classroom management.  However, what’s the take away?  Maybe the motivated teachers implement these ideas and strategies into their classrooms.  It’s a good start, but how do we know if we are using these strategies correctly?  Marzano – the current education research guru – explains that using a high-yield instructional strategy doesn’t always translate into student achievement. 

What’s the next step?  It’s not simply just checking off the best practices, but providing targeted individualized feedback.  There are certain ways of implementing, using, practicing these high-yield strategies, which may result in the desired gains.  Therefore, we need feedback to determine if we are implementing these targeted ideas/strategies correctly, and identify ways to improve.  We desperately need other teachers in our classes to watch us teach, and having them provide timely and constructive feedback on how to improve.  In my last 6 years of teaching, I have had only 2 teachers observe my class and how I teach.   If research shows that the teacher is the #1 factor in student achievement, then why aren’t we observing, practicing, and reflecting on our peers’ and on our  own teaching practices on a much greater systematic scale?

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