The art of teaching is a difficult to define. The evaluation tools used by school administrators must be counted upon to do just that, define what an excellent teacher looks like and does. Danielson (2010) says that teaching describes not only the teaching that occurs in the classroom but also the behind-the-scenes work of planning and other professional work, such as communicating with families and participating in a professional community. The Framework for Teaching encompasses all of these aspects and more within the teacher evaluation process.
Administrators should enter a teacher’s classroom with the idea that the teacher is a terrific teacher. Preconceived optimistic feelings are essential because the administrator wants to build on the positive aspects of their teaching ability. Nonetheless, it is also important to keep in mind that every teacher can improve in some area. The administrator’s goal for observations should be to build a relationship with each member of the faculty so that offers of advice and ideas on how to improve in areas where refinement is needed can be given in a way that is comfortable for both parties.
I chose to observe someone that teaches in close proximity to me, both personally and physically. This teacher, who will in this report called Ms. Merry, has been teaching for over 20 years and has looped this year with her class from the first grade into the second grade. When I first requested to complete the observation cycle with her, Ms. Merry was very hesitant. She expressed a lot of nerves and fear of judgment when being observed. We talked about past administrators who used the observation process as a “gotcha” and administrators who wait until 2:00 the day before Christmas break to observe. This being said, let me make it clear that according to Ms. Merry, she has never received a negative observation. Her perception of the observation process was very negative. After several times revisiting the proposal, I finally got her to agree and we set a time for the pre observation conference.
During our pre observation conference, we found it difficult to find a time, between her schedule and my schedule to complete the observation. As I assured her that I just wanted to see the “real” things that went on during the school day in her classroom and not the “dog and pony show” she agreed to let me observe her during the first hour of the day. I was surprised at how reluctant she was to let me do this project with her, because we have a good relationship and I assumed that we had a solid basis of trust. This was an example of how nerve-wracking the observation process is, especially if there is not a basis of trust. Ms. Merry talked to me about her heterogeneous class of 18 second graders, which has one special education resource child and two identified gifted children. She has arranged her students into mixed ability pairs that she calls ‘buddies.’ Each set of buddies has a higher and a lower student,...