Thursday, November 22, 2012

Where Relationships & Expectations Intersect

In my role as Principal, I have the distinct privilege of overseeing the supervision of  instruction of  teachers.  With that privilege comes the awesome responsibility of teacher evaluation (formative and summative).  I am not sure exactly how many summative evaluations I have conducted, but I think I am getting close to 100.

This post is not about the merits or pitfalls of any one approach to teacher evaluation (although I do have some thoughts on this)

Nonetheless, when reflect and think about some of the most transformational and effective teachers that I have had the pleasure of working with, there are some obvious trends that emerge.

The Research
The research is exhaustive on what constitutes "effective" teachers, with various researchers listing a host of correlates for effective teaching.

Marzano (2003) identifies three main correlates: Instructional Strategies, Classroom Management and Classroom Curricular Design.

Stronge (2002) list such qualities as classroom management, instruction plans, implementing instructions and monitoring student progress.

For each of these qualities the researchers have identified a myriad of research based teaching practices.

While not trying to be dismissive or overly simplistic in my interpretation of the research- my "field work" as a principal has crystallized a couple of trends when it comes to transformational teaching.

My main hypothesis is that transformational teaching does not begin or end with a teacher's adoption any particular pedagogical approach (e.g technology integration).  Instead, I have found that transformational teachers operate at the place where positive relationship intersect with having high expectations of students.

Let me explain each idea further

Positive Relationships
  • These teachers focus on teaching students, not the curriculum.
  • These teachers notice, recognize and listen to students as real people, each with their own learning needs, challenges, gifts and blessings.  This mindset allows teaches to differentiate instruction and assessment to best meet the needs to students.
  • These teachers are prepared to have challenging conservation with students and parents in an affirming and constructive way.   
  • These teachers anchor their assessment AND evaluation of students in descriptive and depth of feedback
  • These teachers have a unique ability to be vulnerable to their students as a teacher and co-learner.
  • These teachers never violate personal and professional boundaries with students.  
High Expectations

I've written about this topic before here
  • These teachers are confidence builders while simultaneously stretching and challenging  ALL students to reach for successes beyond the students' wildest dreams.  
  •  The "sink or swim" mindset does NOT exist for these teachers.  These teachers set the bar high and create a unique and appropriate road map for each student to reach that target. 
  • These teachers are boiling over with enthusiasm about their course and learning in general.  This enthusiasm becomes contagious with students  
  • These teachers understand that genuine learning is rooted in a teachers ability to empower each student take control drive their own learning.

As always,  I am interested in hearing from other practitioners and their opinion on my stated hypothesis.

Still figuring it out....

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