Recently, I was in a district that asked me to evaluate their locally developed classroom observation protocol. This is never a good idea.
But they were earnest and insistent, so we sat down and had a real discussion about the tool that they built and were using.
The biggest (and all too common) mistake they were making is that a number of elements they were trying to observe, were not observable in a 3 to 5-minute walk-thru. In a short walk thru, you either see it, or you don’t. There is no middle ground.
For example, they were tracking, “Bell to Bell Instruction.” I asked, “How to you track that in just three minutes?”
The answer, “The observer infers it.”
I asked, “Anyone see a problem with that?”
They were also tracking, “Evidence of Frequent Questioning.” Again, the observer was expected to infer.
The only objective evidence of “Questioning,” is I observe the questioning. Otherwise it is purely a guess.
With a short walk-thru, when you make subjective determinations, you are writing fiction. Fiction is not very useful for anything relating to campus and classroom decision making.
When you make objective determinations, you are reporting facts. Collect enough facts and make decisions based on those facts and you have a fighting chance to actually improve outcomes.
Think. Work. Achieve.
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