Teacher Observation: High-Tech or Low-Tech?
As short, frequent, unannounced classroom visits become more common in American schools, principals have significant choices on how and when to use laptop computers, tablet devices, and smartphones as part of this teacher-evaluation technique. Lots of commercial software products are designed to streamline the process of gathering information on classroom observations and giving feedback to teachers, but is technology always the best tool? From my years as a principal in Boston and a coach of school leaders in other cities, I’ve become convinced that there is a time for high-tech and a time for low-tech in evaluating teachers, and the choices we make in this area really matter.
When a principal, assistant principal, or department head evaluates a teacher’s classroom performance, there are four steps to that process: (a) attaining some knowledge of what’s being taught; (b) making the actual classroom visit; (c) giving immediate feedback to the teacher; and (d) documenting the administrator’s feedback. Here’s my take on where high-tech works—and where low-tech works better.
• Learning about the curriculum: Before a classroom visit, it’s important for the administrator to know the broader context, especially the curriculum unit’s big ideas, essential questions, skill and knowledge objectives, and planned assessments. The most efficient way to get this information is for the teaching team to share each unit plan in electronic form—perhaps in an easily accessible online document—so the administrator can comment and contribute. With this background information, it should be obvious within a minute of walking into a classroom how the lesson fits into...
This article is available to subscribers only.
To keep reading this article and more, subscribe now or start a 2-week FREE trial.
Access selected articles, e-newsletters and more!
- Elementary Principal
- Forest Grove School District, Forest Grove, OR
- K-12 Teachers
- The International Educator, Multiple Locations
- Director of School Support
- The Achievement Network, Multiple Locations
- Perspectives Charter Schools, Chicago, IL
- School Turnaround Facilitator (Stockton, CA) ($83K-$102K/YR
- WestEd, Multiple Locations