As someone who has conducted dozens of teacher evaluation workshops with different frameworks (e.g., Danielson Framework for Teaching, LoTi Teacher Evaluation System), the question often surfaces about the role of teacher appraisal systems in improving professional practice. Given the extensive time demands for completing teacher evaluations including scheduling, pre/post conferencing, classroom observations and note-taking, and preparing final reports, do teacher evaluations alone provide campuses with the biggest bang for the buck in terms of promoting continuous improvement?
At this point, I interject the concept of Capacity versus Consistency. Capacity measures what a teacher is capable of performing during a structured formal observation. Unfortunately, most teacher evaluation requirements are limited to one to three formal observations during the school year. If Capacity measures a teacher’s capacity during limited observation attempts, what about the other 177 days of instruction?
This is what I call Consistency. Consistency is what we see during frequent, informal classroom walkthroughs, sometimes called drop-ins, pop-ins, or data walks that stretch throughout the school year. The consistency of instruction far outweighs the capacity because improving student achievement using best practices does not occur overnight.
Complementing formal teacher evaluations with frequent, informal walkthroughs coupled with targeted feedback should be the goal for any school system. Elevating one’s consistency with teaching practices over the course of the school year is the key to producing significant student outcomes and elevating one’s professional practice.