A campus instructional leader asks the following question:

SC, There has been some debate in our district on what to do with formative observation data. We are leaving it up to you to provide some clarity.

What are the pros and cons of letting the teachers see their individual walk-thru data sheet?  

SC Response Good question.  What really drives the answer to this question is the length of the observation.  A good rule of thumb is after 30 to 40 minutes of observation, the teacher and an observer/coach should have a discussion about what was observed and what areas of practice, if improved, would provide the biggest bang for the buck. 

On a practical level, this means after a single 30-minute or longer observation, there should be a conversation.  After two to three, fifteen-minute observations, there should be a conversation.

Now I know that the debate you are having concerns 3-5 minute walk-thru observations.  With the these observations, the rule of thumb is to conduct 15 to 20 individual observations and then have a conversation with the teacher.  But why?

With an objective observation protocol, the observer could be tracking up to 60 elements of effective pedagogy. With even the best lesson, in a short time window, most of those elements will not be observed.  That is not wrong, it is expected.  After all, there are some elements of exceptional pedagogy that are observed less than 5% of the time. We must recognize that a single 3-5 minute observation is a random wisp of time.  Which means that on its own, it has little meaning.

Which also means that not only is there no need to share the results of a single quick walk-thru, but to do so is often counter-productive. 

Instead, communicate with your teachers.  Let them know that it take 15 to 20 observations to reveal a pattern of practice, and that is the feedback that is worth their attention and time.  Then make sure that there are enough walk-thru’s that are conducted daily to create enough volume so that teachers can meet with their coach at least once every 6 weeks to review the pattern of practice that is occurring in their room.  

Anything less is either misinformed and/or lazy practice.

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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