Wednesday, 3 September 2014

30-Day Blogging Challenge Day 3: Observation Area for Improvement

TeachThought's day 3 challenge is to: "Discuss one 'observation' area that you would like to improve on your teacher evaluation".

It's five minutes until day 4 of the blogging challenge, so I've gotta write quickly!

In my school board, teachers are only evaluated every five years and I am pretty sure I'm not due for an observation for a few years yet. However, I'm always working on improving my practice.

An area I would like to be observed in this year, if possible, is in ongoing formative and summative assessments. Based on my own experience and feedback from students and families, this is an area for growth. In response, I've created my Annual Learning Plan for students. In the coming weeks, I will have one on one meetings with each of my twenty-three students (yep, my class reached it's cap today!) and their families. Together, we will collaborate to set curriculum-related goals for each student. The Annual Learning Plan document will be shared with students and their parents or guardians. Periodically, I will add feedback and have check-ins with each student to monitor progress.

Please let me know if you have any ideas on how to make this document more powerful or helpful for all three stakeholders: students, families and teachers.


  1. I actually do love using Evernote, but it works well for many of the photograph and anecdotal comments that I keep on each student. In most cases, I like creating a notebook for each overall expectation and/or subject area instead of each student. I find it easier to organize, and when it comes to report cards, it's easier to access as I write comments for each subject. All of this being said, I think there's so much value in finding the tool that works best for you. I hope that Google is it. I'd love to hear more about how you use it.


    1. My comment disappeared! Egads.

      I am inspired by the effective way you use photographs and social media in your ongoing assessment of student work.

      I am certain parents and students are very appreciative and I can tell that you know your students really, really well.

  2. You mentioned your Annual Learning Plan for students in yesterday's post. Honestly I have been thinking about it quite a bit. I absolutely think it is so fabulous. I love the one-on-one meetings with families. I think that it will hkold everyone accountable. In some ways it is almost better then a report card (oh dear heavens I typed that out loud). It gives the students, parents and teachers a real and tangible goal/strengths and areas of need.
    Do you plan to have this available on line for the families to view periodically or in paper form? For your assessments, do you plan to actually share the reading level for example with the parents and explain what a "p" means? Will you still have parent teacher interviews(or student lead conferences) on top of this one on one goal planning?
    I do want to hear how this will turn out in your classroom and parents feedback to it.

    1. Hi Maria,

      Thanks for the comment. I agree that ongoing, authentic feedback will be way more useful than report cards (yep, typed it out loud too!). I also think that tracking student work in this way will make report card writing so easy. I'll have all the comments and feedback written in a cohesive way even before I crack open the reporting platform!

      My plan right now is to have each student's ALP on the Drive and shared with both their parents/guardians and the student. I can print out paper copies for those families without internet access and send it home, or at least use it in our in person meetings over the course of the year.

      I think transparency is crucial, and plan to share levels with families and students. My school does not use grades or marks, and instead assesses and evaluates anecdotally. As a public school in Ontario, we are accountable to the Ministry and must add marks to report cards. For most families, they believe in our school philosophy and accept report cards without marks.

      These ALPs will be used to make parent-teacher-student meetings and Student Led Conferences much more targeted.

      I've developed this idea to minimize work, put a lot of ideas together and make my assessment and evaluation techniques more streamlined. None of this is intended to make extra work! It likely will to start out, but I hope it will become a natural, organic process that is helpful to all stakeholders: teachers, students and parents (and admin as well, I guess!)

  3. I have started my 6th and 7th graders on bi-monthly self evaluations for reading workshop. They've done two so far and they've revealed interesting information about my students as readers. This week I will focus several small group teaching opportunities around their goals, and one group around punctuation. I feel good about where these self-evaluations are going. I've also decided to have the kids do an in-between check-in about their reading goal so that they can adjust or plan for how they're going to achieve their goal. I can already anticipate that their goals will become more complex as the year progresses, requiring more planning on their part. So far, so good.