A handful of teachers and administrators from Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), Maine Schools for Excellence (MSFE) districts around the state are undergoing training to use teaching evaluation rubrics to accurately rate instructional effectiveness. During a two-day summer institute, attendees observe videos of educators in the classroom and evaluate the teaching practices based on rubrics the districts built themselves.
The rubrics are anchored in the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Training is conducted in part by Teachscape and will continue over the course of the grant.
Most recently, teachers and principals from MSAD 55, RSU 74, RSU 12 and Van Buren Schools gathered for training in Augusta. Next week, the same training will be held in Lewiston for teachers and principals from Lewiston Public Schools.
“Through the use of classroom videos, observers are being trained to gather viable evidence about teaching practices that is free of bias and interpretation,” said Sue Williams, professional development coordinator for Maine Schools for Excellence. “Observations need to be evidence-based in order to provide feedback that leads to meaningful professional growth.”
After viewing video clips, attendees revisit their evidence and extract bias from their observation notes. When observers link their evidence back to the standards on the rubric, they can then make more valid and reliable judgments about the effectiveness of the instructional practices.
“The evaluation tool encourages everyone to do their job—it encourages principals to help teachers get better and teachers to get better for their students,” said Chad Bell, principal of Van Buren District Schools.
Teachers and principals in attendance at this week’s session agreed: collaboration has been essential to coming up with this evaluation program. Shari Templeton, a science teacher from Wiscasset High School in RSU 12, was impressed by how the process of developing the new evaluation and professional growth program has built bridges between districts and towns.
“It’s more of a team approach to looking at the evaluation process,” Templeton said. “We stood on the shoulders of some of the other TIF MSFE districts that had started to draft plans, but we needed to have a sense of ownership in it.” According to Templeton, teachers now feel as though they have a voice in how they are evaluated, and as they learn more about the process, they can give insight to their co-workers.
Professional development time has been allotted in districts this year, so attendees can guide colleagues in using the rubrics to drive collaborative conversations about instructional improvement, according to Williams.
“This summer training and the targeted professional development that will follow marks a major milestone in this project,” said Scott Harrison, MSFE project director for the Maine Department of Education. “Last year focused on building the evaluation tool, along with other performance system components. This year, and over the remaining years of this grant, teachers and administrators will continue their work together to refine the tool, calibrate the rubric, and engage in ongoing training to ensure its optimal use.”