Instructional leaders Improving School Programs through Observing
What’s Really Going On in the Classrooms? • A key aspect of being an instructional leader rests the individual’s ability to make informed instructional decisions. • What is an informed instructional decision? • A conscious , proactive choice made on the basis of current data related to instruction or learning. • I.L’s make hundreds of decisions every year. • Staffing • Curricular • Programmatic • The goal of the decisions should be to improve instruction and learning.
Difference Between informed and uninformed decisions Current Data Qualitative Quantitative Informed Decision Seeks external validation Prior Knowledge Perceptions Assumptions Opinions
What’s Really Going On in the Classrooms? • Prior to changing a practice or program it is vital to gather data regarding what is actually taking place. • i.e. Ideal Curriculum • Mandated Curriculum • Spoken /Taught Curriculum • Perceived Curriculum • Observing the learning environment is an important method to gather current data to inform the decision-making process. • Provides the decision-maker with current and relevant data upon which to base decision. On which of these do you evaluate?
What am I seeing? A typical supervisor observation scenario Interpret Describe Observation What does this mean? Judgment They’re bored Why are they yawning? Are they tired? No, what causes people to yawn? I yawn when I am bored.
Typical Post-observation mtg. Judgment: Students are bored Action: Change strategy Reaction • Defensiveness Confusion Hostility
Goal of instructional Leadership… What if… Increase teachers ability to reflect on their practice and commit to improve it. Interpret Describe Observer Observer Teacher Teacher Teacher Description 7 students are off-task Interpretation Reflect Action
Observation purposes • Two major purposes for observing: • Formative • Summative • Formative • Mutually agreed upon parameters • Purpose: professional growth and/or instructional improvement • Summative • Externally imposed • Uniform • Evaluate teacher s on similar criteria
Types of descriptions • Quantitative • Focus on numerical descriptions • Statistical analysis • Relationship between observed behavior and effective instruction and learning • Often, very structured descriptions • Relies heavily on sense data • see • hear • touch
Types of descriptions • Qualitative • Phenomenological • Not knowing exactly what one is observing • Trying to understand the phenomena • No predetermined agenda • Categories created once the data has been gathered • Data sorted into categories • No instrument is used to gather data • Rationale, instrument might limit the data to be collected
Quantitative descriptions • Categorical Frequency Instrument • Types of Questions asked during instructional interval • Performance Indicator Instruments • Visual Diagramming • Teacher Space Utilization
Qualitative descriptions • Verbatim and Selected Verbatim (scripting) • Detached Open-ended Narrative • Participatory Open-end Narrative • Focused Questionnaire Observation
Educational Criticism • Think critic (food critic for the local newspaper) • Qualities of a critic • Training • Experience • Knowledge of history • Knowledge of many forms of instruction • Connoisseur • Passionate • Knowledgeable • Appreciates the details
What does the critic do? • Derive meaning from what is being observed • Achieved by looking at the influence of the learning environment, events, and interactions • Compare perspectives of teacher and students to determine if there is consistency between the two perspectives • Results presented in a narrative
Tailored systems • Due to the nature of the purpose of the observation, there may be times when a normal observation system will not capture the data desired. • Tailored systems • allow for a combination of quantitative and qualitative strategies • Designed for particular purposes • How they use space and the types of interactions that they are having with students.
Observation precautions • Descriptions and interpretations are affected by • Observer’s philosophy, experiences, and values • Observer’s presence in the learning environment • Type of instrument used • Skill at recording data • Interpretations should be co-constructed! Goal: Begin Dialogue