MSU hosts Charlotte Danielson to discuss quality teacher evaluation programs
As Michigan schools prepare to implement new required teacher evaluation programs, hundreds of educators came to East Lansing on April 20 to discuss what good teaching looks like.
Noted educator evaluation expert Charlotte Danielson presented strategies for developing an effective evaluation model. Danielson, who has written extensively about teacher leadership and school improvement, also offered a framework for professional conversations about teaching. The Talk About Teaching conference was presented by the Office of K-12 Outreach.
“Teaching is intellectually demanding and hard to do. Teachers have to make literally hundreds of decisions—under conditions of urgency—every single day,” Danielson said. “Because this is a thinking person’s profession, its evaluation has to be thoughtful as well. We must use observation and dialogue in very positive ways, to build strong teachers who effectively support student learning.”
Under Michigan law, all teachers are now required to receive annual performance evaluations that include student growth as a factor.
Danielson presented strategies that support compliance with state law and allow teachers to grow professionally as a result of the evaluation process. During the day, event participants had opportunities to practice and discuss the types of on-the-job conversations that work.
The event also explored the use of video as a tool for observing teachers. Mark Atkinson, founder and CEO of Teachscape Inc., presented information about technological resources that allow schools to capture and reflect upon teacher performance.
“It’s really exciting to put these kinds of practical solutions behind our teachers, to help them become more effective,” said Lori Phillips, principal of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Middle School in Traverse City. “The tools are fascinating and will really allow us to share and get feedback. What I love best about this entire day is that the processes we’re discussing are not punitive—they’re really aimed at helping teachers be more effective in the classroom.”
Deborah Clemmons, executive director of the Michigan School Reform Office, agreed. “Today’s event is providing specific tools and a way to talk about teaching that is more objective than subjective. Teaching is a very complex process. What we need is a vocabulary to talk about teaching and a way to give people feedback based on a common set of criteria.”
Participants spent the afternoon reviewing current issues and discussing what’s on the horizon for state policymakers. Educational consultant Bob Harris and Nate Walker of the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan offered their perspectives on the continuing implementation of Michigan’s teacher evaluation law.
“The Governor’s Council on Educator Effectiveness is going to play a key role in this work,” Walker said. “They’ll likely be releasing some of their results by the end of April.”