“What are your go-to feedback phrases when evaluating teachers?”
About 50 school and district leaders were asked that vital question at a Saturday morning AASA conference session on “Crafting the Feedback Teachers Need and Deserve.”
Answers included overused and vague idioms such as “students are very engaged,” “great lesson planning” or “good use of technology.” A more effective practice requires administrators use conditional language and passive voice, as suggested by presenter Michelle Dye, assistant principal of Elbert County Comprehensive High School in Elberton, Ga.
The purpose of conditional language is to ponder a possible gap in the teacher’s practice rather than suggest strategies. Using passive voice enables the evaluator to focus on the practice rather than the person being evaluated, Dye explained.
Ultimately, the spotlight should be on the student which means using the student as the subject of the sentence in written feedback, she added.
To make sense of evaluation data, evaluators create a High-Quality Innovation Configuration Map. The format enables evaluators to structure excellent feedback. Like a rubric, the map defines and measures feedback implementation.
With four columns and three rows, a sample of the map was projected on the screen by Thomas Van Soelen, president of Van Soelen & Associates in Lawrenceville, Ga.
The evaluation process has three parts: description, interpretation and evaluation. “Description involves identifying in very literal terms what constitutes the piece of work being observed,” Soelen said. Administrators must document what they see and hear rather than jump straight to rating teachers. Description eliminates the evaluator’s bias, he said.
“Interpretation involves assigning some meaning or intent to what is in the work, and evaluation attaches value or personal preference to the work being examined,” Soelen said.
Feedback during a teacher observation should be 100 percent description. Feedback after observation should comprise 20 percent description and 80 percent interpretation/evaluation.
Though an unfortunate acronym, D.I.E. helps evaluators compartmentalize and form written feedback.
“We call crafting feedback through D.I.E. and these practices a thinking routine,” Soelen said. “This feedback can happen anywhere, anytime.”
(Margaret Gaw, a senior at the Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, is an intern with Conference Daily Online.)