Program Description:

How do you observe online teachers? What do you look for, and how do you manage the process? Join us as we share sample observation tools, alignments between the iNACOL standards and Danielson’s Framework, and discuss the ways the observation process can be valuable to teachers and administrators beyond the basic need for accountability. We’ll share the strategies and structure we’ve developed through research and trial and error over the past 10 years of supervising over 100 online instructors.

PLS3rdLearning.com/mgill; @MicheleOnline

  • “If I know that no one’s watching what I’m doing, that’s going to change what I do.”
  • “The reality is knowing that [an administrator] could pop in, changes things.”
  • But observations are not about accountability. Focusing exclusively on accountability turns school / observation process into a factory.
  • If not accountability, though, what else to look for / why else observe? student engagement; support teachers
  • Think about observation as coaching in an environment in which teachers want to improve.
  • “When you start this type of thing, start with your best people.”
  • If you start at the top, it becomes easier to pull in other teachers, while if you start at the bottom, so to speak, it makes it a more defensive process.
  • Build that cadre of qualified master teaches.
  • Good supportive coaching observations take over an hour per course / observation. I [she] when she started didn’t get them done because she put them off because they were too long and no one was checking up on her (i.e. observing the observer).
  • As master instructors became visible / identified, they were paid to do peer observations from start to finish.
  • Salaried observers triage: they take care of the things that need immediate attention and the things that other people are checking up on. ‘Contractors’, so to speak, are incentivized to observe.
  • Observe what?
    • Compliance / policies: FERPA, response time, availability
    • Standards / competencies: you align to something, but you (district) have to decide what that is
    • Skills
      • e.g. feedback skills (this takes a long time to identify and assess but instructors can be asked to provide to expedite the process)
      • neutral feedback, i.e. feedback that is helpful but does not create a defensive response
      • approach to teaching, e.g. being collegial, not being a ‘boss’ of the classroom
    • Content: creating engagement and personalizing it to students
  • Danielson’s Framework for Teaching (?) not designed for online, though they are being used to observe / evaluate online teachers; this becomes complicated further if administrators are not versed in online or blended teaching
  • http://linkyy.com/onlinealignments: (takes a while to load) a chart of competencies and standards and how they align with each other
  • How extensive?
    • check-ins
      • relatively easy: the week before a course begins, a check in to make sure that things are in place and moving in the direction they should be
    • extended analysis: this comes later, and this takes (a lot of) time
      • when does it happen?
        • end shows everything but doesn’t allow any growth
        • early doesn’t show much
        • week 3 – 4 is the big observation: still time to make a difference but enough material to get a sense of what’s happening
    • combination
  • Finding teachers to do this and compensating them / ensuring that they do it well is tricky. Master teachers can have a reduced student load as compensation (if there is no financial). But master teachers need to be trained to ensure that they are following similar standards / practices in their evaluations.
  • Who observes? Colleague – Coach – Mentor – Supervisor
  • A peer coach that reports to a supervisor / administrator is not a peer coach, i.e. the prospect of observations going elsewhere changes the dynamic
  • Do you observe all of your people, every year, every course? Some do. That’s the way it should be. Everyone should be seen at least once.
  • Tools for the job:
    • Rubric
    • Checklist: easiest to do it in a Word .doc (GoogleForm, apps, etc. more trouble than they’re worth); checklist is designed to be ‘chronological’, i.e. is meant to be checked in order as the evaluator goes through the course; there is also lots of room for comments / expansion
    • Alignments
    • Feedback
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