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This post is a part of the ASCD Forum conversation “how do we define and measure teacher and principal effectiveness?” To learn more about the ASCD Forum, go to www.ascd.org/ascdforum.
Scenario: the principal hires a consultant to observe teachers. The consultant observes one teacher and reports to the principal. Dissatisfied with the consultant's findings, the principal storms into the teacher's classroom and yells at her while informing her that she is displeased with the consultant’s report. The teacher learns for the first time that she has not met expectations for the past four months. The teacher is in tears. Knowledge of the incident spreads throughout the school.
Could the principal have handled the situation differently? Daniel Goleman’s framework for Emotional Intelligence (EI) is instructive in this regard. (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, to control and to evaluate one’s emotions. Goleman's framework consists of five elements, which when employed, can result in more effective leadership and a higher level of managerial prowess. The five elements are:
1. 1. self-awareness - being aware of your emotion
2. 2. self- regulation - controlling emotions and impulses
3. 3. motivation - reason for acting in a particular way/willingness to do something
4. 4. empathy - understanding others emotions
5. 5. social skills - how one communicates with others
Here is how these elements might play out with regard to the scenario described above.
First, the principal embraces how she feels when she receives the consultant's feedback (self-awareness). Pausing to acknowledge her feelings helps restrain the desire to rush immediately to speak to the teacher (self-regulation).
Next comes self-questioning; what gave rise to the feelings? Given that the principal knew of the teacher's poor performance months before receiving the consultant's report, are the feelings more a result of guilt from not intervening to assist the teacher earlier than of discontent with the teacher's performance, or due to another matter that is unrelated to the teacher? Why the teacher was not given help the first time the principal realized that her performance was poor? What can be done to prevent this from happening again (motivation)? Such questioning moves the principal to examine her managerial and leadership practices.
The final step is damage control. Keeping in mind that the entire school is now aware of the incident and that such knowledge can affect morale, what can the principal do to counter this possibility? Having done her introspection the principal can now have an honest conversation with the teacher. One in which she (a) acknowledges her shortcomings in terms of lack of support and the manner in which she conveyed her views about the teacher’s performance (b) states her willingness to hear about and from the teacher regarding her performance and (c) conveys in a positive, non-threatening manner what she expects from the teacher (empathy and social skills).
Of course, putting the “self” on the spot in this way is not easy to do but doing so promotes an enduring self-development. However, using EI to ensure effective leadership and management, is highly dependent on whether the principal views her role as that of a sole proprietor, or, as a member of a cooperative. If it is the latter, then EI would be embraced.
Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Bantam Books: New York.
This post is a part of the ASCD Forum conversation “how do we define and measure teacher and principal effectiveness?” To learn more about the ASCD Forum, go to www.ascd.org/ascdforum, or join the ASCD Forum group on ASCD EDge.
It is often said that teachers teach the way that they themselves were taught. That they should be cognizant of this and filter their teaching practice to exclude ineffective strategies, strengthen the positive aspects and be opened to new ways of teaching. Likewise, our “educational worldview” determines what type of teacher evaluation system we embrace. Hence, here too, we need to examine our worldview so that we can shift our thinking and practice to exclude negative impacts, strengthen what works well and embrace innovative systems.
Worldview could be described as a set of fundamental beliefs that governs a society’s culture in terms of norms, value systems and ways of living. Writers Richard Gabriel and Richard Allington contend that the United States educational worldview is chiefly defined by test scores and that this focus is what influences the popular practice of using test scores to determine teacher effectiveness. Others echo the same view.
For instance, Peterson’s (2000) observes that despite the varied types of evaluation documentation that have been proposed, standardized test scores have matured as the primary measure used to determine student achievement mainly because of a prevailing public view that teacher learning should result in student achievement and also because tests are less costly to produce than tests that seek to measure complex skills such as critical thinking. He joined Danielson and McGreal (2000) in denouncing the use of standardized test scores as the exclusive/primary unit used to measure student achievement. Additionally, Stiggins (2002) argues that most of the standardized tests only determine the status of learning rather than promote learning and that this does not measure how students’ learning is affected during the process. And perhaps above all else, the emphasis on accountability has been heightened by the No Child Left Behind Law of 2001 and the Race to the Top initiative of 2009. Both have catapulted test scores to preeminence on the measurement side of the teacher evaluation scale.
These are some of the same criticisms that we hear today about the role of standardized test scores when we consider whether teacher evaluation systems should emphasize measurement or development. Have we fallen victim to what Edward Hall, author of Beyond Culture refers to as being stuck with the program that culture imposes? In other words, have we internalized this belief in test scores as the only true valid and reliable form of measuring teacher effectiveness so deeply that we are blind to any other options?
In his article, “A Tale of Two Districts,” Mark Simon notes that the education bureaucracy has a proclivity to embrace teacher evaluation systems that use test scores to sort, rank and rate teachers as oppose to embracing systems that focus on promoting professional growth. Perhaps agreements such as the initial agreement between the New York City Teachers Union and the New York City Department of Education to not have test scores predominate the teacher evaluation system, portends well for the movement towards a balanced approach that consists of both measurement and development. Indeed, the findings of the final research of the Measure of Effective Teaching (MET) project, evidences to some extent that a balanced approach is the best strategy for determining teacher effectiveness.
What gets included on both sides of the scale and in what measure, will have to be worked out. However, doing so with an understanding of the underlying assumptions formed by our educational worldview and being open to try different/new strategies means that we stand a chance to put together evaluation systems that will promote effective teaching and learning.
Danielson, C., & McGreal, T. (2000). Teacher evaluation to enhance professional practice. Alxeandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Hall, E. T. (1989). Beyond Culture. New York: Anchor Books/Doubleday
Gabriel, R., Allington, R. (2012). The MET Project: The Wrong $45 Million Question. Educational Leadership, 70(3), 44.
Patton, M. Q. (1997). In (Ed.), Utilized-focused evaluation: the new century text (3rd ed.,)
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication Inc.
Peterson, K. D. (2000). Teacher evaluation: A comprehensive guide to new directions and
practices (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Simon, M. (2012). A Tale of Two Districts. Educational Leadership, 70(3), 58.
Stiggins, R. J. (2002). Assessment crisis: the absence of assessment for learning. Phi Delta Kappan, 83(10), 758-765.
Just as flour strengthens the base of pastries and breads, empowerment lays a solid foundation for building strong buy-in, which promotes continuous improvement.
Empowerment was a prominent business management strategy during the 1980s and 1990s. It involves the transfer of decision making authority and responsibility from management to employees (Waterman, 1987). The premise is that when employees are given a meaningful voice in workplace decisions and given interesting work, motivation and productivity increases (McGregor, 1990). Additionally, it is argued that worker’s proximity to their work make them better able to effect work improvements than managers who are not directly involved in workers’ tasks (Bass & Shackleton,1979).
School reform measures have included empowerment in the form of School Based Management/School Empowerment, which gives educators at the school level greater decision making in exchange for greater accountability. A recent example that denotes this exchange is the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers states have received allowing them to decide how to meet required standards. However, calls “to let teachers teach,” such as those voiced by Mike Feinberg and the top down high-stakes testing requirements that schools are asked to adhere to, suggest that there is a need to move beyond having “empowerment initiatives” to implementing initiatives that truly empower (Wilkerson, 1998). The increased focus on accountability provides a good opportunity to do this.
Though there is no consensus on the effectiveness of high-stakes standardized testing to promote student learning, it is widely held that emphasis on these tests results in cheating, admission restriction of low-performing students, the lowing of the passing grade, a narrowing of content covered which prevents the acquisition and continued development of skills such as problem solving and critical thinking (Falk 1996; McNail 2000; Lashway 2001, Ravitch 2010). These occurrences point to the need for another course of action: the development of an assessment cache that constitutes a balance mix of standardized tests and teacher assessments (Volante and Jaafar, 2010).
The Learning-Focused Accountability (LFA) approach, recommended by Volante and Jaafar is worth exploring. With this approach, teachers’ ability to effectively promote transfer of learning and show student demonstration of authentic learning are emphasized. An integral aspect of this strategy is the recognition that teachers are unlikely to truly embrace the use of assessment results when they are not involved in the development and interpretation of same. This corresponds with Waterman’s view that “the person doing the job knows far better than anyone else the best way of doing that job and therefore is the one person best fitted to improve it” (74).
A balance mix of standardized tests and teacher assessment necessitates the need for teacher training in assessment literacy so that teachers can develop appropriate assessments. Here too, empowerment is essential. Assessment literacy training must be based on informed needs via participative decision making, which Ford (1995) states enables workers to make and execute decisions about both work tasks and organizational planning. Hence, principals need to have conversations with teachers to (a) find out what they already know, (b) find out what they need to know and (c) find out how they think they can go about attaining what they need to know. Professional development is then tailored to meet these needs. And, outcomes of what teachers know, learned and how they used the learning acquired to improve student performance can be employed to hold them accountable.
Failure to consult teachers about their training needs is one of the major reasons why schools’ professional development offerings remain a hodgepodge affair. When teachers are not consulted about what they already know, schools miss the opportunity to tap into their craft-knowledge which is a valid source of knowledge-based practices (Burney, 2004) to build teacher capacity and to help sustain school improvement efforts (Dufour, 2004).
Taping into and building human capacity has always been and continues to be the most essential ingredient for organizational success. Empowerment is key to unlocking and sustaining this success.
Bass, B. M., & Shackleton, V. J. (1979). Industrial democracy and participative management: A
case for synthesis. The Academy of Management Review, 4(3), 393-404.
Burney, Deanna. (2004). The best staff development is in the workplace, not in a workshop. Journal of Staff Development, 25 (2).
Dufour, Rick. (2004). Craft Knowledge: The road to transforming schools. Phi Delta Kappan, 85(7). 526-531.
Falk, B (1996). Issues in designing a Learner-Centered assessment system in New York State: Balancing reliability with flexibility, authenticity and consequential validity. American Educational Research Association, New York, NY.
Ford, R. C., & Fottler, M. D. (1995). Brains, heart, courage: Keys to empowerment and self-
directed leadership. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 9(2), 17-22.
Jaafar, S; Volante, L. (2010). Assessment reform and the case for learning-focused
accountability. The Journal of Educational Thought. 44(2). 167.
McGregor, D. (1960). The Human Side of Enterprise. New York: McGrawhill Book Company.
McNail, L. (2000). Contradictions of school reform: Educational cost of standardized testing. New York, Routledge.
Ravitch, D. (2010). The death and life of the great American school system: How testing and choice are undermining education. New York: Basic Books.
Wilkinson, A. (1998). Empowerment: Theory and practice. Personnel Review, 27(1), 40-56.
Waterman, R. H. (1987). The renewal factor. United States: Bantam.
All across the nation, schools are developing teacher evaluation plans in response to the Race to the Top initiative. In many of these plans, observations by principals and assistant principals account for more than half of a teacher’s rating. This is the case for New York teachers whose observations count for up to 60 percent of a teacher’s score. Are principals and assistant principals sufficiently equipped to conduct these evaluations?
In the field of training, there is a popular saying, “Telling Ain’t Training.” This saying is easily applicable to the type of “support” that teachers often receive: they are told what they should do but are not provided with any examples of the task or given demonstrations.
Teachers are told that they are responsible for their students’ learning but at the same time they are told that they are solely responsible for their own learning. Teachers are expected to identify the needs of their students and meet these needs whereas they are told that “if” they need help they must ask for it and they are berated for continuing to do something poorly when they received no prior warning. Teachers are charged with developing clear expectations for their students and asked to make sure that expectations are achievable and that all students are aware of them. However, the expectations that teachers receive are often confusing and are, given the sea of circumstances that are beyond their control, not attainable.
Not having the skills needed to conduct effective teacher evaluations results in judgments made based on personal likes and dislikes (despite being armed with criteria), ineffective teacher practice and in student learning that is stunted.
Charlotte Danielson notes that evaluators need to be able to assess accurately, provide meaningful feedback, and engage teachers in productive conversations about practice. One other item needs to be added to this list, the need for principal and assistant principal evaluators to have a sense of responsibility in order to ensure sustainable growth for both teachers and students.
Growing up in Brooklyn, NY in the 1940’s and 50’s, I came from a home where both my parents had a limited education (some high school). Neither were readers. We did not have the current torrent of technologies to distract us (television didn’t come to our family until the 1950’s), so books, toys, games, sports, and some radio were what we primarily used for entertainment and leisure time. I remember that I read some books over and over again at a very early age, and reading became a strong habit in my early years. The local public library became a second home, and books became an essential feature of my young life.
As I observe and spend time with children growing up today who do well in school, I notice that they also are generally immersed in books and educational activities of all kinds. Their parents spend a lot of time reading to them, talking with them, answering their questions, and generally surrounding them with books and literature. Some love to do artwork. They go to museums and the zoo on a regular basis. Some have had significant experiences with the theater, going to several children’s plays a year. Television and other diversions are limited and monitored by parents. As these children enter school, they generally have a large vocabulary, have traveled and visited many local, regional, and, for some, other countries, tend to be curious, and like to read on their own. Some of my “surrogate grandchildren”, whom my wife and I sit for occasionally, are now eight and thirteen, and they all are read to and/or silently read in bed before they go to sleep.
These observations, as well as many studies by experts, lead me to believe that, if we are to bridge the “opportunity gap” and foster a society that truly supports equal opportunity, children who do not have an upbringing such as the one described above need strong educational experiences at a very early age. An essential feature of early childhood and elementary classrooms for these children is what I call “content and skills immersion”. Play by itself at this young age is important, but so is play AND learning through educational games and content area experiences in areas such as social studies, science, the arts, and mathematics. Unfortunately, the current early childhood and primary grade emphasis on reading and math skills often shortchanges the richness of learning through the content areas and immersion into scientific questions/investigation, inquiry into history and geography, and exploration with and involvement in the arts. Libraries of books from all subjects, not just fiction, need to permeate early childhood and elementary classrooms. Children often need to be able to interact and engage with their environment through asking and answering questions, meaningful field trips, “research” and inquiry activities, discussions, learning new vocabulary, classifying, conceptualizing and analyzing, drawing conclusions, and communicating orally, through visual means, and through writing dictation and writing on their own.
For example, young children can plant seeds and grow and observe plants while learning science vocabulary. In the visual arts, they can observe, discuss, and analyze artworks of famous artists, learn vocabulary such as impressionism and abstract art, and create art in the style of these artists. Children, with their teachers, can read and discuss books for their age group about historical figures and the times in which they lived. Children should have a quiet, sustained time to select and read many different types of books on their own (even if they just look at the pictures). They need to begin to conduct “research” by asking questions, finding books and other resources about a topic of interest with the help of their teachers and others in the school, having these books read to them (or figure them out on their own), discussing the books with an adult, asking questions when they don’t understand something, and dictating or writing summaries and stories about what they are learning. They can take field trips into the local neighborhood – to stores, historical sites, churches, and the like. They can even begin to make presentations to other children in order to share what they have learned!
Content and skill immersion can be enhanced by today’s technologies. Many books for young children are on line, and are orally presented as well as in written form. Adventure and historical stories can be shared on line. Children can begin to write by using computers. Tablets and other devices can help bring many engaging, interactive curricular programs right into the classroom!
“Unequal opportunity” is a serious problem in America today. Many less affluent children start with smaller vocabularies, fewer opportunities to read and discuss ideas with many adults, and fewer learning experiences that prepare students for school. Strengthening their core abilities and background knowledge at an early age, in interesting ways, should be a high priority. Content and skills immersion in all subject areas and through interdisciplinary themes is a key framework for improving the early childhood-primary grades education years. Small class sizes, coupled with strong immersion activities, will help to bridge this gap and create a learning foundation for future success. It will make a significant difference in the educational lives of children, better prepare them for successful academic work, and begin the process of giving them the “life” skills they will need as they move up through the grade levels and prepare for living in a 21st century world.
ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-mail newsletter for ASCD constituent group leaders that builds capacity to better serve members, provides opportunities to promote and advocate for ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, and engages groups through sharing and learning about best practices. To submit a news item for the L2L newsletter, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ASCD Launches Free Online Needs Assessment and School Improvement Tool
All educators want to improve the work they do for students. Whether it’s instruction, school climate, leadership, family engagement, or any of the other issues we face on a daily basis, we all need tools to help us improve in our context with our students. The ASCD School Improvement Tool is the newest and best way to get a snapshot of how well your school or district is doing and then identify what steps to take to get to the next level.
Designed for use in schools and districts around the world, this free tool offers educators a comprehensive and completely online needs assessment. It includes a survey based on the indicators(PDF) of a sustainable whole child approach to education which span school climate and culture, instruction and curriculum, leadership, family and community engagement, professional development and staff capacity, and assessment.
Based on your unique results, the tool points you to professional development resources that can help immediately address schoolwide challenges. Go to http://sitool.ascd.orgto get started.
To post an ASCD School Improvement Tool badge on your website:
Go to http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/images/siteASCD/ProfessionalDevelopment/school-improvement-tool-150x150.png. Download the image to your computer (for PC users: right-click your mouse and select “save image as”). Hyperlink the image to http://sitool.ascd.org, preferably to open in a new window/tab.
Use the following html code to embed the image, already linked, on your website: <a href="http://sitool.ascd.org/Default.aspx" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/images/siteASCD/ProfessionalDevelopment/school-improvement-tool-150x150.png" alt="ASCD School Improvement Tool" width="150" height="150" /></a>
Contact Klea Scharberg at email@example.com with questions or specific size, format, or language requests.
Please Welcome the Whole Child Network of Schools to the ASCD Community
The 10 schools—nine from across the continental United States and one from Guam —chosen to participate in ASCD’s Whole Child Network kicked off their efforts with a two and a half day Whole Child Network Summer Institute in Alexandria, Va., on July 15–17, 2012.
These chosen schools have committed to a comprehensive school improvement process using the tenets of the Whole Child Initiative—healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged—and their indicators (PDF) as a sustainable whole child approach to education.
The July institute will be followed by a one-day, on-site professional development at each school. Facilitated in partnership with ASCD’s Whole Child Programs staff, the training will introduce the whole child approach to education within each participating school’s community. ASCD staff will work with each school to support a comprehensive implementation based on the school’s results fromthe new ASCD School Improvement Tool and in correlation with their school improvement plans.
Contact Donna Snyder, Manager Whole Child Programs, for more information at 703-575-5448 or firstname.lastname@example.org
2012 Whole Child Network of Schools:
· Albert Harris Elementary School, Martinsville, Va., K–5.
· Drew-Freeman Middle School, Suitland, Md., 7–8.
· Finegayan Elementary School, Hagatna, Guam, Head Start and K–5.
· Fredstrom Elementary School, Lincoln, Neb., K–5.
· Holly Glen Elementary School, Williamstown, N.J., preK–4.
· Le Sueur-Henderson High School, Le Sueur, Minn., l 6–12.
· Martinsville High School, Martinsville, Va., 9–12.
· Odyssey Community School of the Santa Clara County School District in San Martin, Calif., 9–12.
· P.S. 9, the Teunis G. Bergen Elementary School Brooklyn, N.Y., preK–5.
· Urban Community School in Cleveland, Ohio, preK–8.
ASCD Emerging Leaders Sound Off on ASCD EDge
Check out these great posts from ASCD leaders on ASCD EDge. Feel free to comment and share!
· Ready, Set, Goals! By Fred Ende, 2012 Emerging Leader
· On the Edge of Insanity: Developing My First PLN! By Craig Martin, 2012 Emerging Leader
· Practice Makes Permanent by Fred Ende, 2012 Emerging Leader
· How Will You Be a Connected Educator? By Steven Anderson, 2012 Emerging Leader
· If It Ain’t Broke… by Fred Ende, 2012 Emerging Leader
· Reform in Mathematics Teaching by Patricia Dickenson, 2011 Emerging Leader
· The Power of the Lurker by Steven Anderson, 2012 Emerging Leader
· Does the Student Create the Teacher? By Jason Ellingson, 2012 Emerging Leader
· Learn to Lead, Lead to Learn by Fred Ende, 2012 Emerging Leader
· If We Are Going to Lead, We Have to Be Connected by Steven Anderson, 2012 Emerging Leader
Over 200 Leaders Gather for the 2012 Leader to Leader Conference
Last month, ASCD leaders met at the Hyatt Dulles hotel for the 2012 Leader to Leader Conference. ASCD staff would like to thank attendees for a great conference and for their dedication and renewed commitment to revolutionizing the way we learn by ensuring that each child, in each community, is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Attendees have already provided extremely helpful feedback in the conference evaluation that will help inform future improvements to the conference.
Past OYEA Cadre Members Share Their Thoughts on ASCD Inservice
· From School Leader to Community Leader “You can no longer just worry about the issues that are happening within your school.”—Luis Torres, 2011 OYEA Winner
· How Leaders in Singapore Stay Relevant to the Classroom “It’s this constant rotation in leadership so that educational leaders still have that fresh classroom experience to really think as a teacher.”—Deirdra Grode, 2008 OYEA Winner
· Educational Leadership is My Just-in-Time Resource —Dallas Dance, OYEA Honoree
· Using Mobile Devices to Improve Feedback Between Teachers and Principals “As principals, the quickest way to help students is to give teachers really good feedback.” — Brian Nichols, 2010 OYEA Winner
· Is Learning Being Redefined as Project-Based?—Bijal Damani, 2009 OYEA Winner
Help Stop Sequestration!
Sequestration will take effect in January 2013 unless Congress repeals it, making it crucial for education leaders like you to act now to prevent education spending from being cut by 8.4 percent, or about $4.1 billion.
If you haven’t yet e-mailed your federal legislators about sequestration, we strongly encourage you to take five minutes to contact them today.
Save the Date for ASCD’s Annual Legislative Conference
Don’t let Congress make decisions about student achievement, teacher effectiveness, and school reform without the expert information you can provide. Let your voice be heard at ASCD's Leadership Institute for Legislative Advocacy (LILA), which will be held January 27–29, 2013. LILA is your opportunity to learn about and advocate for the education policies that have a direct effect on your work in the district, school, and classroom. Whether you are just becoming interested in advocacy or are a long-time activist, LILA can enhance your influence and effectiveness with policymakers at all levels. Look for more information, including registration details, in the coming weeks.
Something to Talk About
· Prince George's County Public Schools and ASCD Partner to Achieve Title I Professional Development Goals—Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS) Title I Office has chosen ASCD as its newest professional development partner. As the second largest school system in Maryland and the 18th largest in the nation, PGCPS's 9,000 educators serve 125,000 students in 205 schools. Read the full press release.
· School Renewal Experts Publish ASCD Guidebook for Fearlessly Leading School Transformation—ASCD is pleased to announce the release of Aim High, Achieve More: How to Transform Urban Schools Through Fearless Leadership, a practical and inspiring new book by school renewal experts Yvette Jackson and Veronica McDermott. Read the full press release.
· ASCD Leader Receives Award for 20 Years of Service—ASCD CEO and Executive Director Dr. Gene R. Carter was honored by the association’s Board of Directors for his 20 years of service to the organization. The award was presented to Dr. Carter by ASCD President Debra Hill at the close of the association’s summer Board of Directors’ meeting in Alexandria, Va. Read the full press release.