Successfully Navigating REACH
Documenting Your Evaluation Process
Educators observed and rated under the REACH Students system have a right to fairness in the evaluation process. Engaging in “Share. Advocate. Mentor.” strategies (including study groups and sharing scores and experiences with one another) is vital to building solidarity among our members in the evaluation process. Additionally, individual REACH-evaluated members should also be keeping records of what they are experiencing. If you are concerned that you are not being treated fairly in the evaluation process, it is important that you document what you are experiencing by saving emails, taking notes and saving what is entered into RLS, CIM, Batelle for Kids, etc.
If you have questions or concerns about whether the evaluation process is being conducted properly, consult Article 39 of the contract, the CPS REACH Teacher Evaluation Handbook or other resources like the CTU Evaluation Grievance Checklist.
How To Take Screen Shots
In order to document the evaluation process, educators are encouraged to save emails, take dated anecdotal notes and to save documents exchanged at pre/post observation conferences and to print out the evidence, feedback and observation component scores shared on RLS. An additional tool to helping educators document when they received evidence, scores and feedback in RLS is to take a screen shot on a computer and save it. You can also take screen shots of what REACH Performance Task scores you entered in CIM and eventually what data you record in Batelle for Kids roster and Performance Task verification in the spring. For example, once an educator is logged into RLS and has open the “Feedback and levels of Performance” tab for a particular observation, the educator can click all four red “View” buttons to show whether evidence, scores or feedback have been entered. Because the date and time is typically visible on the top or bottom of a computer screen, this helps to document when evidence, scores or feedback were or were not received. It can be useful to document that there is nothing entered in RLS or that an educator or evaluator did share something.
To take a screen shot on a **PC* computer:
- Open the screen that you want to take a screen shot of. Make sure the date and time appear on the bottom right corner of the screen before you take the screen shot.
- Click the button at the top of the keyboard which says “Print Screen”.
- Open a new Microsoft Word document.
- With your mouse, click “Edit” then “Paste” OR hold down the “CTRL + V” keys on the keyboard and then release all keys. The screen shot will appear in the Word document.
- Save the Microsoft Word document with a name and a date that you will remember. Save it to your computer in a safe file and/or email the document to yourself using your personal email account.
To take a screen shot on a Mac computer:
- Open the screen that you want to take a screen shot of. Make sure the date and time appear on the top right of the screen before you take the screen shot.
- On your keyboard, hold down the “Command + Shift + 3” keys on the keyboard and then release all keys. A “.png” file of the screen shot will now appear as a little icon on your **desktop. The title will contain the word “screenshot in the title”.
- You can change the title of the screen shot file or put it into a folder to save it. You can also email the screen shot file to yourself using your personal email account.
Finally, a north side elementary school teacher recommends taking pictures to document special or significant evidence from an observation. She says:
I have been sharing this easy, brilliant idea. Take pictures of things like:
- evidence and modifications
- checklists that you use
- individual student work, group work or reflections
- graphs of assessment (You can use free tools like quiz.org.)
You want to consider taking a quick photo of anything that your evaluator may or may not have missed. It is easy and pictures are worth a thousand words. You can upload photos to your post-observation conference page for the observation on the Reflect and Learn. This may already be common practice for some, like all my teachers at our school who are awesome!
Unpacking & Getting Comfortable with the Framework
It’s always a good idea to spend time studying the Framework by which you will be observed and evaluated for the Teacher Practice portion of your summative rating. One easy way to work in small or large groups to do this is to “unpack” a component of the framework. Any educator evaluated by REACH can benefit from talking through a component with colleagues who are evaluated by the same framework.
- The first step is to gather some collaborative colleagues who will be evaluated by the same framework as you. (Remember, there are 8 frameworks. There are different frameworks for teaching, teacher-librarian, school counselor, school social work, school psychology, speech-language pathology, school nursing and non-instructional “educational support specialist”. There are versions of the frameworks with Critical Attributes for all frameworks except ESS and there is also a version of the teaching framework with SPED Critical Attributes. You could also examine the Companion Guides which exist for all frameworks except ESS and the 5 Addenda—SPED, PE, Arts, ELL, Preschool Through 2nd Grade.)
- Once gathered, pick a component that you want to work on and discuss. Hopefully, this is a component that you feel like some of you need to improve and others have some expertise.
- Next, read all 4 levels of performance for the component from Unsatisfactory to Distinguished. Discuss what makes each level of performance different from the previous one.
- Then discuss what you currently do in your practice that is related to this component. Think about where you think this practice falls in the levels of performance, keeping in mind that the level should be based on a preponderance of evidence (See below!). Share your best practices with one another. You could even make a running list of best practices to share more widely. If some of your colleagues have received strong scores on this component so far, ask them to share their practices.
- Finally, brainstorm strategies that you want to learn more about or get PD about. You can ask your PPLC to think about asking for PD at your school on this component.
For example, Component 2c of the Framework for Teaching is Managing Classroom Procedures. Upon unpacking this component, you might notice that one of the elements (the bulleted subtitles under the component on the framework) of that component is Management of Materials and Supplies. If you look at the Distinguished level of performance, you will notice that one line says “The teacher orchestrates the environment so that students contribute to the management of instructional groupings, transitions, and/or the handling of materials and supplies without disruption of learning.” It may seem like a daunting prospect to involve students but perhaps one of your colleagues has an idea of how to create routines so that students help pass back papers or assign groups.
Component 3b of the Framework for Teaching is Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques. Upon unpacking this component, you might notice that one of the elements (the bulleted subtitles under the component on the framework) of that component is Student Participation. If you look at the Distinguished description, you will notice that one line that says “Students formulate questions and challenge one another using viable arguments based on evidence” and another that says “Students themselves ensure that all voices are heard in the discourse.” You could discuss whether you have a system to encourage students to help one another participate and communicate with one another and if not, how could you do so.
Advocating for Yourself in Pre- and Post-Observation Conferences
It may seem obvious to some educators that pre and post-observation conferences for REACH observations should not be one-sided meetings where only the evaluator speaks. It’s worth a reminder though that these conferences should be collaborative conversations where the educator and evaluator discuss, reflect and get feedback on the plans for instruction (pre), the observation (post) and then the evaluator’s evidence (post) and whether there were things that the educator needs to clarify, correct or add to what the evaluator was able to capture in their evidence.
Educators are encouraged to bring a copy of the framework by which they are evaluated to every conference, preferably one they have read repeatedly and marked up, so they can ask questions about the feedback that they receive from their evaluator.
If an educator has an Addendum available (currently there are five Addenda on the CPS Knowledge Center—Arts, ELL, PE, Preschool Through 2nd Grade, and SPED), the educator might want to bring the addendum to the conferences as well.
Educators should be comfortable with these documents so they can ask questions and advocate for themselves.
Educators can bring additional evidence to conferences that they would like the evaluator to review or consider to conferences to help clear up misunderstandings, clarify the sequence of instruction, or to provide more robust evidence of the educator’s intentions and instructional methods.
Educators may want to take notes and use courteous follow-up emails to the evaluator to document the conversation and any agreements made at the conferences or about feedback and next steps including adjustments they will make to their instruction.
Educators are encouraged to ask about their preliminary observation scores at the post-observation conference so they are not surprised when the evaluator finalizes them on the RLS website.
Educators are encouraged to request a post-observation for their informal observation in order to have an opportunity to discuss the observation with their evaluator.
Follow-Up Emails & Scoring Advocacy
Ideally, teachers should be prepared to advocate for themselves at a post-observation conference using the evaluator’s evidence and the language of the Framework by which they are evaluated. You should request a post-observation conference for an informal observation as soon as you can send a quick email to make the request at the end of the day that you have the informal.
All evaluation is going to be subjective, but observation scoring is supposed to be based on the preponderance of evidence” (see the introduction page to the Framework).
Use our pre/post conference tips on this page. Ask for preliminary scores at the post-observation conference as is encouraged by the new contact REACH Changes and Best Practices document which is found on the CPS Knowledge Center. Try to get your evaluator to follow the protocol on page 26 of the CPS REACH Teacher Evaluation Handbook.
Try to advocate for yourself at the post-observation conference by citing language from the framework that is relevant and asking the evaluator to explain the rationale for their scores, but if you have a scoring disagreement that is not resolved at the post-observation conference or you did not have a conference, an educator can send a very professionally worded email to the evaluator explaining why the educator disagrees with particular component scores using evidence from the observation and language from the appropriate component of the Framework. That way an educator has a dated and time stamped record that they shared their concerns with the evaluator. You can also courteously request that they reconsider the scores or conduct an additional observation.
For each component whose score an educator disagrees with, an educator can use language from the (Proficient or Distinguished level of performance) Framework and provide evidence (from the principal’s scripted notes of the observation, student work, unit plans, etc) to show why the educator thinks they should have received a Proficient score based on the preponderance of the evidence. Reference any relevant considerations from the 5 currently available Addenda (ELL, PE, Arts, Preschool Through 2nd Grade, and SPED).
Again, scoring is supposed to be based on the preponderance of the evidence.
In case a teacher needs to file an appeal or a grievance, it’s important to document, document, document. Use courteous and professionally-worded emails to your evaluator to ask questions, document concerns, dates, and agreements and to advocate for fairness in the process. Mentor your colleagues to do the same. Take screen shots or print screens of CIM when you enter Performance Task scores, Batelle for Kids when you do roster verification, the RLS website to show what you entered and if your evaluator is not sharing or entering or making strange changes. Then you have proof, just in case.
Companion Guides Are Helpful Tools
Each Companion Guide breaks down each component of the Framework (by element for the Frameworks that have multiple elements per component), and contains things such as suggestions for practice, ideas for what evidence and artifacts to share in RLS, guiding questions to reflect on and considerations that may be raised with evaluators (such as for SPED and ELL or for how evaluation a counselor is unique, etc…). These Companion Guides are not exhaustive and entirely comprehensive, but they do provide some additional details that expand the Framework and may provide insights that could inform a collegial conversation with an evaluator or inspire an idea for your instruction or practice.
Currently, there are seven Companion Guides for the following seven Frameworks (Click on the name of the Framework to go to the page on the CPS Knowledge Center where the Companion Guide can be found and downloaded.):
- Teaching with Critical Attributes*
- Teacher-Librarians with Critical Attributes*
- School Counselor*
- School Social Work with Critical Attributes*
- School Psychology with Critical Attributes*
- School Nursing with Critical Attributes*
- Speech-Language Pathology with Critical Attributes*
Is it recommended that educators review their relevant Companion Guide with a colleague or a group of colleagues, possibly in an informal study group, and noting particular passages that you think are useful. Reviewing the Companion Guide may give you ideas for future conversations you’d like to have with your evaluator at your next REACH pre or post-observation conference, for things you’d like to change or adjust in your instruction or practice or for ideas about PD that you’d like to pursue for yourself or for you and your colleagues.
How to Use an Addendum
Because the Framework for Teaching applies to teachers in such a variety of settings, sometimes it can be frustrating for teachers who feel like the framework does not capture the specific context and nuance of their teaching strategies. There are currently five Addenda available to be used in conjunction with the CPS Framework for Teaching and more are in the works. Currently, there are five Addenda for EL, SPED, PE, Preschool Through 2nd Grade and the Arts.
These Addenda are intended to provide educators and evaluators with important insights as to what makes teaching and learning unique in particular content areas or specialized settings. Each of the current addenda provide specific notes for evaluators to keep in mind while conducting observations and point to unique contextual differences in these classrooms for each component of the framework. These documents are incredibly helpful in thinking about the appropriate way to evaluate teachers and can really help an educator illustrate to their evaluator how their setting is different than a general education or core subject classroom.
Educators should read the Addendum relevant to their teaching and highlight and/or note key passages that they believe are the most informative. The educator can share a copy of the Addendum with relevant highlights and/or notes with their evaluators and encourage them to also read the document. The educator could request a special in-person meeting just to discuss the Addendum with their evaluator or bring the Addendum to a pre-observation or post-observation conference for a formal observation.
Post-Observation Conference Tips
Some teachers think that the post-observation conference is the time when the administrator simply shares all of his/her feedback and preliminary component scores. However, this conference should not be a one-sided conversation. Teachers should ask to see the administrator’s/evaluator’s evidence log (preferably the evidence log aligned to the Framework components with preliminary scores though evaluators are not required to share preliminary scores until at the post-observation conference) on the RLS website before the post-observation conference so that the discussion is rich and specific. Although it is optional to fill out the post-observation conference form, it is in your best interest to fill out the form thoughtfully in order to contribute to meaningful conversation and demonstrate your knowledge of your students and your work. Word document versions of the pre and post-observation conference forms can be found on the CPS Knowledge Center.
If you disagree with how your evidence was aligned or scored, you should use the post-observation conference to express your own interpretation of what happened during your observation. This is an opportunity for you to advocate for yourself and demonstrate your professional knowledge and expertise. Teachers should be prepared to discuss specifically what went well for individual students during an observation, explain why they needed to make adjustments during the lesson if any were made, and to suggest specific strategies that could be utilized to strengthen the lesson for individual students if it were taught again. Teachers should be able to acknowledge parts of a lesson or observation that needed improvement and suggest specifically what methods would work best for specific students. Again, although filling out the post-observation conference form on the Reflect and Learn System is optional, it is HIGHLY recommended that you complete the form in advance of the post-observation conference thoughtfully. The content, accuracy and specificity of a teacher’s reflection on the observation will impact their score on component 4a. Reflecting on Teaching and Learning.
Don’t forget as well that Article 39-5 (page 164) of the contract says that evaluators and principals must provide in after observations “ways and means by which teacher should pursue opportunities and achieve growth” as well as “the resources to be made available to assist the teacher.” We need to hold our principals and managers to this language. If you are told you have a weakness, then ask “When are you releasing me to attend a PD that will help me?” Or “When are you going to provide me with materials on a strategy that you want to see me try?” One school year, an astute teacher used Article 39-5 to convince her principal to pay for her attendance at a summer PD at an elite university.
What is Preponderance of Evidence?
Educators should receive whatever component scores they earn based on the evidence from the observation and the discussion at pre/post observation conferences and not based on an artificial or imaginary quota. While it is true that it is very difficult for educators to receive distinguished levels of performance for every single component on the framework, for every observation, that is a far cry from saying that “no teacher is distinguished.” We should try to remind ourselves and our evaluators that it is entirely possible that our practice is Proficient or Distinguished and ground our advocacy in the language of the framework.
The Introduction to the Framework for Teaching with Critical Attributes document reads:
The Framework differs from the prior checklist evaluation system in that it is meant to more fully describe aspects of teaching so that teachers can improve their instructional practices, grow professionally, and as a result have clear direction to improve their evaluation outcomes. Administrators should gather evidence from observations and conferences, engage teachers in collegial conversations about their practice, and come to evaluative conclusions based on a cycle of observation, dialogue, and feedback. In using The Framework to evaluate teacher practice, evaluators should consider the preponderance of evidence and not expect to see everything described in each component of The Framework in every observation or conference.
The overriding concept guiding component scoring is supposed to be the “preponderance of evidence”, not perfection. If the majority of the evidence from an observation is best described by the language of a proficient or distinguished level of performance on a particular component, then the teacher should be given that component score. In the same vein, one incident or one student should not be used to justify an unsatisfactory component score. The evidence and discussion of it should be treated more holistically and not like a checklist. If there are educators who are being checklisted or told they cannot get a certain score without a certain number of “marks”, they should tell their union delegate so that the PPC can discuss it with the administrator and the delegate should contact CTU staff as well.
Educators should read the evidence notes on RLS that evaluators are supposed to share in a timely manner (typically before a post-observation conference for a formal observation) so they know what the evaluator saw and recorded. By reading the evidence, educators can reflect on the lesson from the perspective of their evaluator using the language of the framework. Then, they can appropriately discuss and advocate for themselves on the basis of “preponderance of evidence” in a post-observation conference for a formal observation or a requested in-person meeting after an informal observation. If educators are not being given access to their observation evidence in a timely manner, they should also tell their union delegate so that the PPC can discuss it with the administrator; and the delegate should contact their CTU Field Representative as well.
Framework Study Groups & Collective Advocacy
Even if your PPLC (Professional Personnel Leadership Committee) is not ready yet to advocate for PD related to Teacher Evaluation, you and your colleagues can create informal Teacher Evaluation study groups to hold your administration accountable to the correct evaluation procedures, to support one another in learning the framework and to share strategies that work for students.
First, you and your colleagues should share your observation scores and evidence from last year and/or this year to identify component scores that you are not happy with or want to raise.
You could do this in grade-level, content or framework teams or as a full staff. Once you share the scores, look for patterns. Are there certain components where your staff is consistently receiving high or low scores? Are there certain components that as a staff, you don’t feel like you’ve had enough training on? In a previous school year, teachers at Roosevelt High School, led by their CTU delegates, made a Google Doc where everyone could upload their scores so that patterns could be easily identified. They then held a PD to look at the Framework for Teaching and discuss next steps. They planned to have ongoing PD that year related to the Framework. You can continue to share your scores as the year goes on and look for patterns of improvement. Encourage people to be open about their scores, but if they really don’t want their colleagues to know whose scores belong to whom, you can still share the scores without teacher names attached so that patterns can be identified.
In some cases, you might find that your evaluators are not scoring teacher practice consistently. If you share your scores and describe how you think the scores were arrived at based on your post-observation conference experiences and the evaluators’ Evidence Logs, you can try to identify whether your evaluators are scoring some teachers higher or lower even though it sounds like your practices were the same. Your PPC (Professional Problems Committee) can push your administration to evaluate the staff fairly and consistently based on real examples and you can alert CTU to help your school address concerns about fairness in the process.
Secondly, by sharing your scores and evidence so far, you can also collectively discuss what strategies you are using in your classrooms and which ones are working for students as well as being scored highly by your evaluators.
You can mentor one another regularly in small grade-level, content or framework teams or as a whole staff. Be open to learning and sharing best teaching strategies from one another. We all can learn new strategies and this evaluation process is new for everyone. Working together will benefit our students and our own evaluation ratings. Teachers at Saucedo Elementary Scholastic Academy in a previous school year, led by their delegate, held a morning meeting where they focused explicitly on Domain 1. Teachers, who so far received “Distinguished” scores for Domain 1, shared their strategies and tips with their co-workers and they discussed how to have a productive pre-observation conference.
Finally, after working together to identify scoring patterns and sharing strategies and experiences, you can collectively advocate for professional development opportunities that will help everyone improve.
Your staff can work together to identify specific teaching strategies, materials or a PD sessions/courses that you would like more information about. For example, perhaps, your staff wants to learn classroom management techniques that encourage self and peer monitoring of student behavior (2d), how to write great rubrics or help students keep portfolios of their work (1e, 3d), or ways to get student input as to the pacing and effectiveness of a lesson (3c). Through your PPLC (or even without it), you can advocate that the administration to find time and resources to provide the supports that you as a staff feel you and your students need. Even advocating for time during common planning, prep periods or on student non-attendance days to start these study groups would be worthwhile.
Working Toward Distinguished
If you read the “Distinguished” level of performance down the Framework for Teaching, you’ll begin to notices themes that repeat themselves like individualization, student input, and collaboration. While it’s clearly an improbable task to embody every component at the Distinguished level of performance every day in the classroom, recognizing and incorporating teaching strategies that aim for Distinguished practice will inevitably help teachers and students alike. Below, we have tried to summarize the key characteristics of each component at the Distinguished level. Think about how you can adjust your practice to include clear examples that may align with the markers of this level of performance.
Even if you’re not a classroom teacher, reading the “Distinguished” level of performance of your Framework to identify themes can help you think broadly about adjustments to your practice that could ultimately help your school, the students and your observation scores.
Domain 1 Planning and Preparation
- Plans are thoroughly aligned with standards, prior learning, literacy and are interdisciplinary. (1a)
- Plans include and are responsive to regular collection of information about the needs of specific individual students. (1b)
- Plans include differentiation of objectives and a variety of teaching strategies to help individual students reach specific outcomes. (1c)
- Plans are appropriately challenging, scaffolded and differentiated so that individual students can access the materials and learn. (1d)
- Plans include aligned, authentic assessments that are individualized and outcomes impact future planning. (1e)
Domain 2 Classroom Environment
- Environment and communication are developmentally appropriate, positive, trustful and collaborative among students and teacher(s). (2a)
- Environment of high expectations is maintained by teacher(s) and students. (2b)
- Environment encourages student leadership and participation in maintaining efficient routines as well as on task behavior and collaboration among various adult educators is planned. (2c)
- Environment is designed and maintained by teacher(s) and students together and is mindful of individual student needs and challenges. (2d)
Domain 3 Instruction
- Instruction includes teacher communication that is developmentally appropriate, clear, thorough, intentional in language and vocabulary and mindful of student interests and misconceptions. (3a)
- Instruction includes questions that are varied in level of difficulty and encourage use of appropriate evidence and student metacognition. (3b)
- Instruction encourages students to thoughtfully question each other’s thinking and encourage each other’s participation. (3b)
- Instruction includes tasks that are aligned, build on prior learning, challenging, individualized and offer student choice. (3c)
- Instruction includes intentional student grouping(s) to encourage student collaboration and mutual support. (3c)
- Instruction includes assessments that allow both teacher(s) and students to self-monitor individual student progress and help students assess one another with specific feedback. (3d)
- Instruction allows student interests and assessment outcomes to impact impromptu teacher decisions and future planning. (3e)
Domain 4 Professional Responsibilities
- Reflection is specific to teacher strategies, connected to student outcomes and reflection on future changes anticipates success or failure of possible changes. (4a)
- Records for student progress and other information are accurately maintained in a system and students may assist in maintaining accurate records. (4b)
- Communication between families and teacher(s) is frequent, individualized, and reciprocal and information or input is shared sensitively and appropriately. (4c)
- Teacher seeks opportunities for growth, seeks input from all stakeholders and actively initiates collaboration of sharing of skills with colleagues. (4d)
- Teacher is always honest, proactive, advocates for and honors the neediest students, seeks leadership opportunities, and has responsible attendance. (4e)
Observation & Lesson Plan “Look Fors”
One delegate and teacher, Dustin Voss of Fenger Academy High School, took it a step further and wrote a short list of simple instructional practices or “Evaluation Look Fors” that align with Proficient and Distinguished practice. Consider adding some of these tips into your practice. Dustin wanted to share his list with all of his “REACH”-evaluated CTU colleagues across the city and he’s asking you to share your tips and suggestions. The more we share best practices, the better!
Dustin says, “These look fors can help improve teaching and learning by building a common language around proficient and distinguished instruction. They can also empower teachers to be able to do the right things and say the right things to get the most useful feedback and fair scores from their evaluator.”
Domain 1 & Pre-Observation Conferences
- When you write your unit or lesson plans, make sure to have the Framework with Critical Attributes nearby so that you plan instruction that aims to achieve the Proficient and Distinguished levels of performance in as many components as you can.
- Be wary of doing too much. You should be able to achieve Distinguished practice without planning an overly complicated objective or lesson. In fact, trying to do too much may confuse students.
- Come to your pre-observation conference (for a formal observation) with the Framework with Critical Attributes in hand. Reference the language of the Framework when asking for suggestions and feedback and ask the evaluator to use the Framework when commenting on your instructional plans.
Domains 2 & 3
- Connect with students by asking about specific things you know about student outside of your class. “How’s that grade in…, how was the game last night?” (Component 2a)
- Praise and reinforce respectful interactions. “Thank you for your willingness to share!” (Component 2b)
- Promote students to correct each other and collaborate. Say things like “Can you please tell your partner there to…” (Component 2b, 2c, 3d)
- Always state the purpose of the lesson or activity and tie it to larger goals. Ask students questions like “can you clarify the objective for me?” or “what does the objective mean to you?”(Component 3a)
- Use positive directions such as “I want all your energy directed to the work today.” (Component 2d)
- Praise work towards the expectation of the work/assignment/behavior. “I love that revision. That’s a skill that’s going to get you an A on this assignment.” (Component 2d, 3a, 3d)
- Thank students for and encourage students to help each other. Pair with #9 to have one student focus on another students’ objective. (Component 2b, 3d)
- Have students help collect or distribute papers. (Component 2c)
- Ask students to say what they are learning and why they are learning it. Then ask them how well they’re doing it. (Component 3d)
- Ask students to connect the current task to outside world. (Component 2b, 3a)
- Ask students “Is this something you’d like to know more about?” (Component 3a, 3e)
- Use popsicle sticks or index cards to encourage all students to participate in Q & A. (Component 3b)
- Praise and encourage students to initiate and lead discussion. “Use the question stems.” (Component 3b)
- Ask students to give “props” or encouragement to each other. (Component 2a)
- Allow students to have input as to how to complete tasks. (Component 3c)
- Have some component of student input in assigning or selecting instructional groups. (Component 3c)
- Have prepared at least one alternative instructional strategy to achieve the same learning objectives. Use as necessary to demonstrate responsiveness. (Component 3e)
- Complete the RLS optional Post-Observation Conference form and bring a copy of the Framework with Critical Attributes in hand.
- Come prepared to discuss specific research-based instructional strategies that you could use next time to improve the lesson.
- Use REACH language, including “the preponderance of evidence” to advocate for the most appropriate score on the Framework for Teaching.
- Ask the evaluator to share preliminary scores and take notes of any component scores that you and your evaluator agree and confirm in a courteous and professional email.
Dustin said it best, “Students are more engaged and behavior problems decrease, when students connect past and current learning to their individual interests and futures.”
Getting Student Feedback on a Lesson/Unit/Assignment
Often educators seek student feedback in informal ways, but making soliciting student feedback a regular part of planning and instruction can help an educator reflect more deeply on the way their students are receiving and perceiving their instruction. While getting student feedback is just a good practice, being in the habit of asking for student feedback on instruction has real REACH benefits. Several components of the REACH Framework for Teaching involve an educator knowing how well students understood or perceived the instruction. English teacher Bart Hanson and math and technology teacher Aimee Smith, both from Lincoln Park High School, have integrated frequent opportunities for student feedback into their instruction. They ask their students to provide them with written feedback based on questions that they can change and add to if they want additional feedback because of a specific project or unit they just taught or because they recently had a REACH observation. These questions are used at the high school level, often after major projects, a full unit or a REACH observation and could be modified or shortened to make more appropriate for younger students. While it’s helpful to have the students written responses, educators could ask students for feedback verbally and record the responses themselves as well. The feedback received can inform adjustments to future instruction and help a teacher think about their answers to the optional, but recommended post-observation conference questions on the RLS web site and inform how they address Component 4a (Reflecting on Teaching and Learning) for formal REACH observations.
Here’s a sample list based on some of Aimee’s questions that an educator might ask in order to get student feedback after a lesson or a unit which may also help them reflect about a REACH observation. (Remember that the tips are suggestions to get you started and they could be be reworded to fit the needs of your particular students.):
Think about the lesson/unit/assignment for a moment and then answer the following questions:
- What was successful about the lesson/assignment? (3e, 4a)
- When during the lesson/assignment were you most intellectually engaged? What about (the content) did you find most interesting? What did you want to learn more about? Did you look up more information about this topic? (1b, 3c)
- When you reflect on your work during this lesson/assignment, how would you assess your work? (1e, 3d)
- What do you think the objective was of the lesson/assignment? (1c, 3a)
- What does your assessment reveal about your progress toward and mastery of (skill and/or content)? (3d)
- To what extent did using the (specific resources provided) or previous (specific lesson or unit) help guide you with this lesson/assignment? In what ways? (1d, 3c)
- To what extent did working in groups help your understanding of the material? In what ways? (1b, 1d, 3c)
- To what extent did the classroom environment contribute to (help or hold back) your learning? How do you know? (2b, 2c, 2d)
Imagine you had a chance to do this lesson/assignment again.
- What would you want me (the teacher/educator) to do differently to achieve the intended objective(s)? Would you change the objective(s)? (1c, 3c, 3e, 4a)
- What do you think I could do to help you with (skill or content) for the rest of the school year? (1b, 1c, 1d, 3d, 3e)
- What are you particularly proud of about your work during the lesson/assignment? Why? (1b, 2b, 3d)
- What concepts or skills would you have liked me to explain, demonstrate, help you practice more? (1b, 3d, 3e, 4a)
- What other resources do you think you need to support your understanding of this (skill or content)? (3c, 4a)
- What else do you think I and/or our school could do to help you learn? (1b, 3e, 4a)
- Can I share your work? (4b, 4c, 4d)