July 7, 2015

The Observation Tools Nexus

These observation tools were created by practitioners to collect classroom performance data for teachers. Observers use the tools to collect data, share the data with teachers, analyze the data and determine areas for improvement.

The initial versions of the tools were designed and first introduced in Principals Improving Instruction: Supervision, Evaluation, and Professional Development (2008) by DiPaola & Hoy. The tools focus on research-based, high-yield instructional strategies that should be implemented in classrooms. Each of the data collection tools narrowly focus on specific effective classroom practices — data can be collected by observers in short classroom visits of 10 minutes or more and shared.

eObservations was founded to provide tools to school administrators that meet teachers’ needs to receive meaningful, specific, non-judgmental feedback on their classroom performance. All too often classroom observations are not performed with the goal of helping teachers improve. Classroom observations most often provide no or very little formative feedback to teachers – exercises to meet policy or legal requirements focused on summative evaluation – but that are of no or little value to the teacher.

eObservations specializes in developing and providing classroom observation tools that focus on teachers’ pedagogy – specifically teachers’ use of high-yield, research-based instructional strategies in their classrooms with students. By collecting teacher performance data with these tools, the observers then share the data with teachers and help them reflect on their practice. The reflection and collegial conversations help identify discrepancies between actual classroom pedagogy and those that are research-based. Professional development naturally emerges as action plans to improve instruction to increase student achievement.

eObservations believes that providing teachers with immediate, focused feedback on their instructional practices leads to teacher reflection and focused areas for professional growth. It gives school administrators opportunities to help teachers master skills essential to their continued growth as professionals. As teachers participate in developing plans for growth, they build increased capacity to meet the growing needs of students, no matter their race, origin, language, or socioeconomic status. This process of data collection is formative — data collected are shared with teachers. Both observer and teacher reflect on the performance data and determine whether there is a discrepancy between what the data reveal and best practice. Then an action plan to eliminate the discrepancy is created and the teacher attempts to implement the plan. Follow-up observations provide additional data that reveal the degree of improvement in instruction.

These digital versions of the tools make it possible to email a copy of the data collected as soon as the observation is completed — immediate feedback for teachers. The data collected for each teacher are stored in a searchable database, which is accessible to administrators who have authorized access. Building principals can easily access the data as well as the number of times a teacher has been observed and by whom. Additionally the data can be aggregated to detect trends in the school — for example, what instructional strategies are teachers having difficulty executing and, therefore, require more professional development. We are confident that if you try these tools, you will agree that they provide opportunities to help teachers focus on research-based, high yield instructional strategies that help all students learn.