Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Thoughtful Classroom - Takeaways

Have you heard of Dr. Harvey Silver?  He is the author of The Strategic Teacher and our new (New York State required) teacher evaluation tool - The Thoughtful Classroom Teacher Effectiveness Framework.  Dr. Silver was our presenter for a full day of learning about this new system. Truly - I was dreading it. Who wants to spend 6 hours cooped up in an auditorium viewing the details of what your boss will be looking for as they observe you? But actually, it was a surprisingly pleasant day.  Silver was funny, warm, and actually practiced all the teaching behaviors he recommended.  I won't bore you with all the minutiae of the meeting, but I did come away with several things I want remember this year that I thought I'd pass along to you.
  1. You only have 7 seconds to make a first impression. Make those first moments count - smile, make a connection, and make them feel welcome! 
  2. Use your students' names in examples and while speaking to vastly increase their attention and engagement.
  3. Let your students get to know you - tell stories about yourself, share your own goals, and maybe even show them a picture of yourself when you were their age.
  4. Post surprising pictures or intriguing questions to hook your students into the lesson and engage their thinking.
  5. Stop often to ask for QCC: Questions, Concerns, Comments.
  6. When you ask a question during class, don't just use "wait time" until you see a hand or two go up - ask all students to jot down an answer to engage their thinking and then have some share - with each other and then you.
  7. Emphasize Learning - not Grades. If the learning is happening, then the grades will come. Have them record what they've learned often.
  8. Have students "mumble read" their writing to themselves so they can catch more errors and smooth it out. Then have another student read it to them to help them spot even more areas to improve. 
  9. When looking for areas of your own growth - try looking at the "opposite" of what you do well.  For example, if you're great at fostering an appreciation for diversity, try working on developing unity in your class.
  10. Ask students what they need - Example questions: "After looking at the goals for this project, what will you need to accomplish this by Friday?" This increases motivation and engagement.
Many of these I incorporate into my teaching already, but I plan to add them in a more "thoughtful" way now.
If you're interesting in learning more, you can check out Dr. Silver's book:

I'd love to hear from anyone who has used this system.  How are teachers evaluated in your district?

1 comment:

  1. I am a teacher in New York State also. My district is adopting the Danielson model. We will learn about it more on Tuesday and Wednesday during Staff Development.

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