What are the key challenges?
Due to limited time and resources, the current evaluation of effective teaching or effective teachers is captured by a fragmented process that is impossible for an observer to measure the outcomes of teaching and performances of a teacher holistically.
According to John Hattie, his new studies show that “teacher estimates of achievement” has the most significant influence on students’ achievement. It has an effect size of 1.62, which is four times the effect of the average influencer. Teacher’s estimates of achievement are the “accuracy of an individual teacher’s knowledge of students in his or her classes and how that knowledge determines the kinds of classroom activities and materials as well as the difficulty of the task assigned. A teacher’s estimates of achievement can also influence the questioning strategies and student grouping used in class as well as the teaching strategies selected.”
However, it would also be incomplete if it is solely based on the classroom teacher’s observation and interpretation.
What are the solutions?
As current educators, we have to ask ourselves about our method of evaluating our teaching effectiveness and the strategies we share with you. We know that it cannot be a fragmented and subjective method based on our own observations and interpretation.
Our method must be comprehensive and based on evidence beyond our observations. Our analysis looks at quantitative and measurable data of students’ learning outcomes, including students’ works, scores from informal and formal assessments, and students’ anonymous feedback, and students’ social and emotional development. Unlike the teachers’ evaluation method based on a few short random or scheduled observations, our data is based on our daily observation and interaction with our students. This allows us to capture the continuous learning progress and outcomes that no researcher or administrator can do.
Our method of evaluation focuses on removing our subjective observation with comprehensive evidence.
What is the measurable evidence of teaching strategies?
Our teaching strategies are based on current studies and research; however, many of the teaching practices in their studies are limited by the available technology in their time or the teachers’ ability to effectively use the technology.
Using today’s technologies and taking the time to master how to use the technology’s essential functions, we streamline many teaching and learning tasks and processes to achieve the full positive theoretical impacts of the best teaching pedagogies discovered in many studies and works, such as John Hattie and Vygotsky.
Our teaching strategies’ effectiveness is tested in the extreme situation when Amy had to take over chemistry classes in mid-October from many long-term substitutes while having to rove to three different classrooms throughout the day.
For any educator, new or experienced, the most challenging thing to do is take over classes from a long-term substitute. Substitutes are not teachers. Their roles are mainly to supervise students rather than to teach students. They do not create lessons or teach; most of them are mainly responsible for passing out papers and collecting students’ works. Many teachers assign textbook work or have students watch a video when there is a substitute. Taking over classes that have been taught by many long-term substitutes is an indication that the classes have many challenging problems, especially with classroom management and lack of any academic accountability.
Another tough challenge for any educator, new or experience, is roving to different classrooms throughout the day. When teachers are roving to different classrooms, they teach different periods in different classrooms throughout the day. This is even more challenging for science teachers, especially a chemistry teacher. We have lab activities that have fragile glassware and dangerous chemicals. For different classrooms, Amy had to set up the lab activities and take them down to move them to the next classroom, and she had to set it up again. Amy roved to three different classrooms each day.
What our components in all of our teaching strategies?
If we look at other essential influences of students’ learning from John Hattie, we can summarize that the best teaching strategies are based on three components:
- Students are actively learning the content at their own pace
- Students are given instant and meaningful feedback to self-assess their learning
- Teachers are facilitators who have access to real-time and comprehensive data of students’ effort and progress to provide multi-tiered levels of intervention and support
When we create activities with the three key components above, we create a learning experience that focuses on evidence and measurable outcomes. When students can actively learn at their own pace and provide immediate feedback, they can self-reflect on their understanding in real-time. Combined with heterogeneous grouping, students would genuinely collaborate to solve challenging problems and help each other. The learning setting and conditions allow students to practice communicating, critical thinking, creative thinking and collaborating.
What are the teachers saying?
Share-Classroom teacher: “It was nice to see that students were once again attentive and participating in the class discussions. It was even more impressive to see you using structured students’ collaborative strategies to help facilitate student conversations.”
Science Department Chair: “”Thank you so much for the excellent work you did at [this school] teaching chemistry. We were very fortunate to have such a dedicated, professional teacher join us for the sake of our students.”
The kids are so focused. The culture of learning is highly evident in your class.”
District’s Professional Growth Systems Site Support Teacher:
“Wow, the culture of learning is highly evident in your class. The rotation activity has a huge impact on collaboration. Thank you for your hard work & dedication to ALL students.”
Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication to your students. It has been such a joy working with you this year. I am inspired by your growth mindset and innovation! [This school] is very lucky to have you.”
“I thought I wasn’t going to like you when you came to our class because you seemed mean. I also thought I was going to fail your class because everything is online. But now that I have been in your class for a while, I saw that you desire for each and every one of us to succeed. I saw this because your husband had the time to create a website for high schoolers. No one would do that if they didn’t have the passion for it. Thank you for everything and for being patient with our class… Merry Christmas”
“I am sorry for putting my notes sticking out of my backpack. Next time, I will put all of my notes all the way in and I will zip all the way in. Thank you for letting it go and allow me to learn in your class.”
What our current students are saying about their experiences through COVID’s distance learning?
“[The] teaching strategies support my individual needs because then I have access to lessons at any [time] when needed so if I need assistance on a particular lesson I can watch the lecture again, and if that doesn’t work I can submit a forum to get more help if needed. This way of learning helps deliver high-quality learning because then I can process the video with a little less pressure because then I can go at my pace and take the notes I need and make them neat without needing to rush. This way of learning helps me be successful in the class because I have access to the assistance I may need easily without any hassle and it helps the learning be more flexible and helps me process the material better, and therefore I can focus on certain topic or questions, and help me understand everything taught in the class.”Student’s Anonymous Feedback (with the parent’s mission to share)
“[The] teaching strategies support my individual needs because everything is very well explained and our practice quizzes help us grow a deeper understanding of every topic it is we are learning. We are provided with learning equity because everybody is able to go at their own pace, [the teacher] provides us with more than enough time to complete each assignment and we are all given the same extra chances to re-do any assignments we have done poorly on. He delivers high-quality learning by providing us with engaging videos in which we have to answer questions as we are watching to make sure we are paying attention. I know I will be successful in this class because of the way it is structured, I have an A in this class and that is because of the outstanding material we are provided with by [the teacher] to help us be better students and gain knowledge each and every day.”Student’s Anonymous Feedback ( with the parent’s mission to share)
We co-founded Win Elements LLC to lay the foundation for today’s teachers and school administrators to collaborate based on evidence and transform their school culture to be one with trust, support, and evidence.
Thank you for joining this podcast, and we will see you next time.