A LYS Central Office Administrator asks the following:


Why do you coach that teachers should not to receive feedback (normally) after a single observation?  Why must we wait until patterns/trends are established before providing feedback to individual teachers? This seems counter-intuitive.  Help.

SC Response I get these questions a lot due to the fact that this practice does not align with the existing schema of most campus and district administrators.

Many campus and district administrators believe that every time they enter a classroom, they need to be evaluating that classroom. But this should not be the case.  The only time that an administrator should be evaluating the classroom (teacher) is when:

1. The observer has notified the teacher that a high stakes evaluative visit should be expected within a specific and narrow window of time.

2. The observer observes the classroom for at least 20 minutes, giving the teacher the opportunity to deliver instruction and manage the classroom using a number of effective practices.

So take PowerWalks, the system and process your district is now implementing.  PowerWalks is a formative observation tool. It has been designed for the SOLE purpose of creating game film for coaching teachers. In this endeavor, multiple observers engage in frequent observation of classrooms.  These observations are short, 3 to 5 minutes.  Now one, short classroom observation means almost nothing.  Good, bad or indifferent, it is a random wisp of time.  The purpose of the visit is to cue effective practices, provide some positive reinforcement (if warranted), and collect some objective data.

The key word is data.  One short observation represents an INVALID data sample. This is because the size of the sample size is statistically insignificant.  This is not opinion; it’s math.  Take 15 to 20 individual observations as a data sample and what the statisticians will tell you is that the sample size can be considered significant.  Which means the trends that are identified in the sample are likely to be real, instead of random occurrence.  With a real identified trend, coaching, reflection, problem solving and improvement can occur. With random occurrence, any action that is taken has only a random chance of being effective.

Now, if you are Charles Barkley, you don’t trust all this trend/statistics mumbo-jumbo. That’s OK (not really, I’m just being polite). In the real world of coaching, every coach worth his/her salt observes the player over multiple reps before making a coaching suggestion.  Whether they realize it or not, thru the observation of multiple reps they are filtering out the random from the engrained.  Then they work to replace, remediate, or leverage the engrained. 

PowerWalks is for coaching.  Until that understanding is embraced and internalized, it will always feel strange. 

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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