I was sitting in a classroom the other day observing a teacher for her evaluation. I have the 8 Iowa Teaching Standards sitting right in front of me as I observe her and I am completely focused on what she is doing to meet the students’ needs in her classroom. That’s right, my entire focus is on what she, the teacher, is doing. While I am doing this, I have a huge epiphany.
She was doing a fantastic job of setting up activities for students to collaborate and think critically. Her transitions were fantastic when having students move from one activity to another. Students knew her expectations and followed them at all times. She was constantly assessing students learning and adjusting her instruction to meet as many of their needs as she could with her current structure. She is a great teacher who is meeting all 8 Iowa Teaching Standards at a high level. Why am I not satisfied with the evaluation I am writing?
Then I realized what the disconnect was for me. I have a passion for flipping the focus from what the teacher is doing, to the students and their learning. My entire evaluation is focused on what SHE is doing to support the students. If we want to get away from the Sage on the Stage and Keeper of All Knowledge platform and move to a more Personalized Learning environment where the students’ learning is the focus then I feel we have to change our evaluation tool.
A few years ago a new set of teaching standards were released called the InTASC standards which were created to articulate the standards teachers need to meet to create a more personalized learning environment to meet the needs of each and every one of their students which they call, and I like to call, “learners”. The InTASC standards are a great step to better support this movement. They are still very much focused on what the teacher is doing, but have a stronger influence on what the teacher is asking students to do, how much voice the teacher is giving the students, how the teacher is personalizing each learner’s path, and how the teacher is making the learning relevant and real world applicable. I love just about everything in the InTASC standards but struggle to get past the fact that there are 10 different standards instead of 8 and most of the standards have 15-20 criteria under them. This gives them a feel of being much more complicated than the previous standards. They are also missing, just like the Iowa Teaching Standards, a growth mindset. Teachers are either meeting the criteria or not meeting. If we want our learners to have a growth mindset, we must also create an evaluation tool that supports our teachers in a growth mindset with a scoring rubric that pushes them to meet each criteria at higher levels as they improve.
It is my opinion that we need to find a way to simplify these a great deal, add a piece that focuses on what the students are actually doing while keeping the majority of it still focused on the teacher, and create a rubric that supports a growth mindset for all teachers. I feel by adding the student piece we will get a more clear picture of exactly what is happening in the classroom. And, by adding a 4 point scoring rubric we will be able to provide better support for our teachers to change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.
Has anyone created anything similar to what I am asking? Is there anything else you would want in the evaluation that would help support this movement? Please share so we can create something that we can all get behind and find useful.
If you would like to view the InTASC Standards you can find them by clicking on the following link.