A Reader Asks… The Classroom Observation Process

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A conference attendee and new LYS reader asks the following:

SC,

I had the pleasure of attending all of your sessions at the recent TASSP conference. I have a few more questions for you.  In what way or format do you provide coaching feedback for your teachers? Is it in writing or discussion? In my office or their classroom?  And is that dependent on if the coaching is directive or reflective?

Also, when doing the quick classroom observations (and I did write down the criteria for what to look for), do you recommend a particular commercial tool? I did download the trial PowerWalks App, does that disaggregate data in the manner you spoke of? I do see that it addresses the Fundamental 5, which we have adopted on our campus. Your answer to these questions would be greatly appreciated. I know that you will be visiting our school this semester. I look forward to seeing you again.

LC Response Thanks for your PowerWalks questions! I’m Lesa Cain, a LYS Coach and former principal who was a big user of PowerWalks when I was a campus principal in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in Houston.  So here goes…

Feedback – We advise you to give formal feedback afar you have conducted 15-20 walks on any given teacher.  With that being said, please feel free to give your teachers a thumbs up, a smile, a nod – something to let them know that things are OK, if they are 🙂  

The reason you wait to collect 15-20 observations is that no teacher can do everything on the walk-through form in 3-5 minutes… that is just a wisp of time.  But after 15-20 observations, you have an  “hour” of time that you can really show the teacher patterns in his or her practice and then can discuss goals for the next set of walks.  It really doesn’t matter if you go to them or if they come to you, and yes, maybe whether it is a reflective or directive conference can help you with that decision.

It is really important to talk to teachers face-to-face so that we really tell the truth about why we are conducting walks.  The reason is to go into classrooms so much that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt where the bright spots are on your campus, and then hook those teachers up with others who need to see how it’s done.  So, if you have a teacher who is a terrific “Lesson Framer” and others who are struggling, then you can make arrangements for those who are having a hard time to take 3-5 minutes to go and observe how that teacher does it, so they can be successful too.  My point is that it really is a tool to make people better, and not a tool to put people on notice.  If that needs to happen, you have to move to shift to an extended time, PDAS observation.  And be clear with the teacher that you will be doing so.

Absolutely, positively, the best tool is PowerWalks!  Not just because it is the product we use, there are a ton of walk-through protocols, but what sets PowerWalks apart from all of the others is the report writing feature.  For example, at my campus we were being over-run with 5th grade office referrals in the afternoon – I ran a Fundamental 5 report for 5th grade A.M. versus 5th grade P.M. and it was amazing!  As a grade level, teachers were in the Power Zone in the 80% range in the A.M., and guess what – that percentage fell into the 40’s in the afternoon!!!  Once I showed the teachers the data, there was no question as to how to fix it – even though they were tired in the afternoon – they had to be up in the Power Zone to continue to be proactive to solve issues before they happened.  That is the hidden power of the PowerWalks tool.

You can run reports with the trial PowerWalks App, but the feature is limited (especially if you have seen or used the complete system).  If you let me know that you are really interested in using PowerWalks, just let us know and we will get you started with a free campus trial for the month of September. Then if you like it you can get a subscription for the 2013/2014 school year.

Thanks again for your questions, I hope my responses helped.

L.C.

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5
  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “Look at Me: A Cautionary School Leadership Tale” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/lookatmebook 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Plans (Fundamental 5 Lesson Plan Tool); PW Lite (Basic PowerWalks Tool); PW Pro (Mid-level PowerWalks Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Multiple Presentations); NASSP National Conference 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on www.Twitter.com/LYSNation  and like Lead Your School on Facebook
A Reader Shares… A Resounding Win!
Dr. Rich Allen Writes… CSCOPE – Make It Work For You

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