Friday, 12 November 2010

Revisiting the Principal's Focus in

Revisiting the Principal's Focus in Teacher Evaluation

 Similar to DuFour’s The Learning-Centered Principal, DuFour and Marzano discuss the need for learning leaders who focus on the evidence of learning rather than on formal teacher evaluation. Again, the traditional concept of improving education “one teacher at a time” is being challenged, and in its place is a different approach to teacher improvement. DuFour and Marzano propose that principals spend the majority of their time organizing, driving, and supporting collaborative teams. They said, “Time devoted to building the capacity of teachers to work in teams is far better spent than time devoted to observing individual teachers.”  
This post is in further reflection to 

From Teaching to Learning-shifting the principals focus (a reflection on DuFour's proposal).

“Great in theory," according to some. Iowa teaching standards, teacher evaluation procedure, and local board policy dictate a different scene. 
What DuFour and Marzano are recommending is to minimize (not eliminate) the extensive individual conferencing and observation time by instead redistributing valuable time working collaboratively with teacher groups. Within the PLC planning, implementation of strategies and assessments, and collective feedback, teachers will gain much more than an individual conference with one administrator. To elaborate, teachers will focus on defining and sharing the intended, implemented (enacted), and attained (assessed) curriculum for their subject area. Teachers will provide evidence that students are learning what is being taught. IF students are not learning, teachers will consult with their PLC’s to look deeper into instructional methods that will ensure every student is successful in attaining the intended objectives. Through this process, principals can gather a great deal of individual data by observing, helping, monitoring, and providing resources to help each PLC improve and realize its structured goals. Needless to say, principals can still provide individualized attention when needed or requested, but evidence supports that teachers working in teams demonstrate greater accountability and competence thus providing heightened increases in student achievement.
Team Responsibilities
Principal Responsibilities
·  Clarify essential curriculum
·  Establish consistent pacing
·  Develop frequent common assessments
·  Use results from assessments to inform and improve individual and collective results

·  Provide:
o Time
o Structures
o Training
o Resources
o Clarity of purpose
Collectively, the work of the team is inquiry based. Individually, Marzano and DuFour claim, “each member of the team becomes more certain regarding what students must learn and how students will demonstrate their learning. Throughout the year, team members are held accountable by one another to produce results, and if progress is lacking, they work together to modify instructional strategies, differentiation methods, etc.
The role of the principal is to ensure the team is impacting student learning and is providing evidence to support achievement growth. Items the principal collects include the guaranteed and viable curriculum, pacing guides, common assessments and results, analysis of results, etc. When a team or individual members are struggling, the principal provides support and training to resolve the problem.
It makes sense to me that if teachers are working collaboratively, more cognizant of their own improvement, and holding one another accountable, and if student achievement is on the rise, teacher evaluation will be a less time-consuming and a more seamless task.
I will complete evaluator training in 2011; this training may change my perspective, but for now – I think it’s a matter of structuring the collaborative accountability push around local evaluation policies.

What do you think? Is it just theory, or is it a viable component in evaluation? Can it work? What are the realities, drawbacks, benefits, etc.? 

This post is in response to -  
DuFour, Richard, & Marzano, Robert J. (2009). High-Level Strategies for Principal Leadership. Educational Leadership. February, 2009. Vol.66, No.5, pp.62-68.

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