Teacher Evaluations


In Oregon, aligning their teacher evaluation systems to state standards, and the application of standards across the evaluation and support system, school districts must create evaluation systems that take into consideration multiple measures of teaching effectiveness.  They also must establish a formative growth process for each teacher that supports professional learning and collaboration with other teachers.  Probationary teachers are assessed annually whereas contract teachers are assessed on a two year cycle.

In my local district, David Douglas, they use the Charlotte Danielson evaluation system.  This has been recently adopted after following the state requirement of using the TASC.  The  Oregon TASC requirement includes an assessment rubric and performance indicators to clarify performance expectations for each of the ten InTASC Standards.  The state of Oregon suggests the TASC, but allows the use of Danielson or any other system, as long as the rubric has the required four performance level ratings of effectiveness.  It requires that if the Danielson framework is used, that a “crosswalk” must be made to clarify which of the InTASC Standards are covered by each domain/ criteria.

In the TASC, which I am familiar with because it is the framework that TEACH-Now uses and was used to assess my student teaching, there are ten standards, each with several sub points.  The TASC models core teaching standards that outline what teachers should know and be able to do to ensure every K-12 student reaches the goal of being ready to enter college or the workforce in today’s world. The core teaching standards describe what teachers should know and be able to do in today’s learning context to ensure students reach the learning goals.

Charlotte Danielson standards are grounded in a constructivist view of learning and teaching.The complex activity of teaching is divided into 22 components (and 76 smaller elements) clustered into four domains of teaching responsibility: Planning and Pre, Classroom Environment, Instruction, and Professional responsibilities.  Both sets of standards adopted for both teachers and administrators are high-quality, research-based standards that reflect what an educator should know and be able to do.  Both are meant to include next steps and are meant to support ongoing learning and are not just for beginning teachers.  In Whittier Elementary, a school in Seattle, the principal there does about 8 casual and 3 formal observations annually no mater how many years a teacher has been teaching.

Elements in which I think I should be judged should be all of those as found in the TN TASC.  They all seem very worth while.  How I would like to be judged and the process is similarly to as seen in the Teaching Channel video.  The approach of discussing lessons and the goals of each lesson before they happen is very important and a big part of the learning process for a new teacher.  I expect my evaluator to be transparent and up front.  I expect them to share both strengths as well as suggestions for improvement.  I’d like them to offer solutions and corrections rather than just tell me what went wrong.  I appreciate it when an evaluator asks clarifying questions to try to gain understanding on a teachers thinking after a lesson.  Sometimes that makes the teacher feel more confident in that they knew what they were aiming for even if they weren’t able to express it or be successful.


Pre-Assessment for Differentiation



Differentiation is important when you have a room filled with students from many backgrounds, ability levels, and experiences.  Within a typical classroom in my school, we have students who span the spectrum of testing from a one to a four, who speak little to no English, and who have behavior or physical impairments that require a different way of teaching and assessing.  Pre-assessments are how we figure out what ability level students are at in certain areas and what their prior knowledge is so that we can build upon it.

When I began student teaching, the first lessons I taught were to meet 3.MD.8, a standard that requires students to understand the area and perimeter of irregular shapes.  You can not make assumptions about student knowledge, you must pre-assess with questions, tests, or quick sample problems to figure out where students are at.  If a teacher just jumps in and starts teaching a subject, without first assessing student readiness and confirming a fairly solid foundation, there will be gaps in understanding.  It is a much better practice to start your lesson assessing for and then building upon a solid pillar of content understanding to assure greater success.

Here is one way to pre-assess student understanding before teaching to standard 3.MD.8: Pre-assessment quiz: https://play.kahoot.it/#/k/bd9c399f-034c-4547-9752-5ce00253c610


While I love the idea of K-W-L charts to use to support reflecting upon prior-knowledge, goals, and the final outcome, for a math assessment I generally find a quick quiz to work better.  In my school, we do not have a class set of computers, so using something like Kahoot would not work unless the students were set up at centers and a small group could use ipads.  Instead of Kahoots, I would likely use a short 4 or 5 question quiz on a piece of paper and/or a review at the rug to pre-assess.  After I get a good feel for where each student is as, I divide the students up based on their readiness.

An example of my classroom differentiation flow, addressing the needs of the three types of students:  https://www.lucidchart.com/invitations/accept/f81cd7c0-b192-47db-a600-aa99dd986373

My pre-assessment shows me where into the three groups students fall: needs extra support, needs little support, ready to move forward.  My aim is to have all students ready o move forward, but I will need to alter my planning to meet them where they are at.  I will provide one on one or small group support to the students who show me that they are not yet where they need to be.  I will also offer worksheets that give them more practice in building base knowledge as well as time using Khan or Moby Max programs for support.  Students with higher readiness will have access to additional “sprints” and more challenging worksheets so they are not stifled by lower readiness levels.  Hopefully they will also have access to Khan to help them move forward.

I will assess on a daily basis using a Problem of the Day, which will show me if they are “getting” knew content and are ready to move forward.  This will help me see, day by day, who needs me to pull them for extra support and who is ready for more challenging work, which they will learn to assess on their own as well.  Ideally, these techniques will allow me to provide the supports needed to help all students meet learning targets without holding back the students who are ready to more forward.  From experience, it is easier said than done when working with a student population like mine that contains such diversity; we seem to never be able to move slow or fast enough to meet all student needs…


High Stakes Assessments


At Menlo Park Elementary in East Portland, a Title 1 school in a low income area where about 75% of students receive free lunch, testing is a fairly big deal.  Our school has a “Teacher on Special Assignment” position just for the role of proctoring assessments.  It is the job of this educator to run the Smarter Balanced tests and to over see the DAZE and DIBLES tests, which are the other tests used within my district to assess students.

For each of the 4 Smarter Balanced tests, two each for ELA and Math, the students were scheduled about 8 hours a week for four weeks, plus unlimited completion time.  The DAZE tests are used twice a week in third grade and DIBBLES has weekly practice, a practice tests and two recorded tests a month.  Occasionally, I think twice a year, students are tested by the special testing force to record official scores on DIBLES. The DAZE tests take up about 15 minuets a week.  The DIBLES, maybe 30 min or more in a normal week and the Easy CBM, about 30min-1hr, twice a month.  Not an incredible amount of time, but it is time that could be spent on other, more valuable practices.

Each week a new DIBLES fluency test is administered based on student competency.  If a student is in Title 1, they only have a phonics book from which to practice.  The other students have to read and re-read the DIBLES essays, earning stars with each completion. each equalling 5 points.  At the end of the week, they get tested on the passage.  The goal is to improve verbal fluency.  If the reader scores better than the last time, meaning that they read faster, they get to add the difference to their table score.  If they read slower, they subtract the difference.  If they make no mistakes, they get to add 2o points.  If they make more than three, they subtract 20 point.  The whole thing is rather silly.  I have seen some of the smartest kids read at a reasonable pace and get a low score.  I have also seen some of the less bright kids plow through it.  Reading fast is not a good indicator of learning, understanding or intelligence.  They are being trained to and tested on reading fast.  Apparently, it is making someone in the district feel competent by having something to report and show as a data point.  The DAZE shows reading comprehension, and is likely a slightly more useful test.  The Easy CMB also tests comprehension.  From what I could tell though, student scores did not improve much over the year, even with the top kids.

Teachers in my school seem to teach to the test.  I have heard them frequently say that there is no time for anything else.  Recently, when I introduced the school garden as a learning tool at my school and set up an informative PD on how to use the garden, several reported to the principal that they would be excited to use it, if only there was time.  While I support using standards to guide content, I do not support the influence that testing has on how a teacher feels he needs to spend his time in the classroom.  In third grade, my mentor seemed to spend a fair amount of her day administering all of the different district mandated tests or test preps to the different groups.  It was part of the ‘reading block’ that took place from 1:30-3pm when she did small group work .  I feel that time could have been better used if spent on actually reading books out loud, as a group, discussing the ideas, building vocabulary, gaining perspective, making connections and learning to analyze a text.  Research shows that group reading is time well spent and that there is a negative correlation between RTI and test scores1.  The scores at my own school back up this observation2.

Teachers at my school who have students with high test scores are not given rewards or bonuses, but I have heard that is the case at other schools.  However, the test scores are a part of a teacher’s overall review.  Students are also not required to pass any test/s to move on to the next grade.  Research has shown that students who are held back do worse in the long run3.  Students move onto the next grade, but likely receive “supports” like RTI backed by billion dollar companies like Rupert Murdoch’s, Amplify.

At the high school level, movies like The Race to Nowhere indicate that High Stakes testing account for a rise in suicide rates, 75% of students cheating on tests, and a huge stress burden4.  At the elementary level, in my lower income community, I don’t see much stress from increased test pressure on students. I don’t think the students view the tests as having much of an impact, especially not the Smarter Balanced test.  Besides standardized tests being time consuming and boring, the students are likely more stressed by the Easy CBM.  It is a more frequent and longer test that only the non-Title I students in my school take.

Public elementary schools in Seattle take the following tests:  MSP- Reading, math and science, DRA- Fall, Winter and Spring, CBA- Health and Fitness (PE), CBA- Social Studies, Music- CPBA, Visual Arts CBA, SBAC, Beacon/Amplify.  All in all, testing takes up to 48 hours out of the school year.  Teachers do not receive bonuses for test scores, but it seems as though principals do5.  Otherwise, the case in a typical Seattle public school seems to be the same as in my school.  Teachers often find themselves teaching to the test, though they follow the standards and generally pull from Smarter Balances test-like questions (which seems to be common).  The students in elementary schools do not seem to be very affected by the tests other than it accounts for a reduction in recess, which is sad and counter productive6.  Scores are weighed as part of a teacher evaluation and students are not help back at the elementary level for poor scores.

Personally I feel that as long as there are high stakes, like bonuses and long term consequences attached to the standardized tests, test prep activities will continue to dominate instructional time.  Rather than focusing on developing  the whole child and the important components of—critical thinking, imagination, the arts, recess, collaboration, problem based learning, and more, high stakes testing seems to do more harm than good.


1.(November 6th, 2015). RTI Practice Falls Short of Practice. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/11/11/study-rti-practice-falls-short-of-promise.html

2. School Digger Menlo Park Elementary School. Retrieved from http://www.schooldigger.com/go/OR/schools/0394001032/school.aspx

3.Stipek, Deborah & Lombardo, Michael. (May 20, 2014). Holding Kids Back Doesn’t Help Them. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/05/21/32stipek.h33.html

4.  Producer. Real Link Films. Directors. Vicki Abeles & Jessica Congdon. Race To Nowhere. USA

5. Taylor, Dora. (Dec 15th, 2014). Seattle Public School Principals receive bribes, uh, bonuses, based on student test scores. Retrieved from  https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/seattle-public-school-principals-receive-brides-uh-bonuses-based-on-student-test-scores/

6.Hagopian. Jesse . (October 6, 2015). Recess in Seattle: How We Won the Right to Play. Retrieved from http://www.progressive.org/news/2015/10/188351/recess-seattle-how-we-won-right-play

7. Hagopian. Jesse. (November 2, 2015). Retrieved from Obama’s regret: “Taking the joy out of teaching and learning”.  https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/obamas-regret-taking-the-joy-out-of-teaching-and-learning/




Planning Assessments


Lesson Objective:
At the end of my lesson, my students will be able to solve problems related to area and perimeter.  They will make sense of problems and preserve in solving them and will use appropriate tools strategically.
Three types of formative assessment that will help me know that my students are meeting the objective are:
1)In the first part of the lesson, the students should model the changes in the seating plan with square tiles while I model the changes at the document projector. I will pose questions to them and use their answers to assess their understanding.  Some questions might be:
What happens to the area?  What happens to the perimeter?  Why does it get smaller?
I will follow this with a Yes/No chart.
My rational is that this will cause my students to analyze the work they did and to ask themselves if they gained understanding of the new concepts so that they can apply them in other ways.   A Yes /No chart will make it clear what the students need us to focus on.
2)They will take this knowledge and formulate new questions that they will work to solve using the same tiles with a partner doing an think-pair-share project that I will observe.  I will give each paired group a new question to think about and have that group join with two other in order to form a group of four.  After students discuss their findings in groups of four, I will have volunteers demonstrate at the document projector why 10 is the fewest and 24 is the most people who can come to dinner seated at 6 tables.  This will increase student involvement and will show me how well they were able to digest and understand the material and how well they can apply the concepts on their own and while working together.
3)We will conclude and discuss the activity with questions that keep the question going.  I will bring up discussion points such as: we learned earlier that we can make different shapes with figures that have the same area. We learned that those different shapes may have different perimeters although they have the same areas. What is the fewest number of people who could come to dinner?.  What is the most who could come to dinner?
– but will follow up questions by asking additional students for an explanation of why there is an agreement or not. My rational will be that this will continue to help keep all the students engaged because they must be prepared to either agree or disagree with the answers given and provide explanations and it will show me who is really understanding the material well enough that they can explain their answer.

Reflection on Understanding and Applying Standards

When I first started this unit, it took me a little while to figure out how to get started. Initially, I felt overwhelmed.  That was in part because I was trying to figure out how to apply the standards that I choose to a specific type of lesson.  Because I am the driving force behind the school garden that my school community will be building shortly after I begin student teaching, when I think of meeting standards, I think of meeting them in ways that are relevant to the garden.  I chose a math standard that requires that my students solve real world and mathematical problems involving perimeters of polygons, such as they will need to understand when we consider our garden beds.  The other standard I choose was a very generic standard that relates to any writing my students might do while making quick observations about our lessons and time spent in the garden as well as more thoughtful reflective writing.   While I didn’t have lessons in mind, I did have an application in mind.  However, I did work from the standard backwards and considered how to unpack it piece by piece by finding the verbs, context and big concepts. After I got started and got through the unpacking process, addressing standards started making more sense.

Working from back to front, from the standard or desired result to the lessons that help students to achieve those results, a teacher will know that she is providing her students knowledge that will keep them on the proper grade level trajectory necessary for success. It will be clear how to lay out lessons and learning experiences that directly meet those objectives and then design assessments that indicate if mastery has been achieved or if more work is needed.  Backward planning provides the necessary steps to determine if the standards are being met. When backwards mapping the standard that I chose, I could clearly understand what proficiencies I should be able to check off at the end of the unit. For these proficiencies to be achieved, I need to consider that my students should be able to apply this knowledge when necessary to other tasks.  This knowledge should become a familiar tool in their tool box available to them as an independent resource.  Repetition and the application of this knowledge in a real world setting will be very important to them.  Figuring out different ways to solidify understanding is where considering SMART objectives comes in.

Lesson objectives are specific statements written in behavioral terms that identify what a student will be able to do as a result of a teachers instruction. The important part that I took away is that the focus is on student outcomes, what will they be able to do, and not on the action of teachers.  Objectives need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and targeted to the learners.  They help teachers integrate units across subjects to provide a wholistic lesson.  They also guide the direction and selection of learning activities to reach the greatest success and they create clear expectations for all involved.  The Fink’s and Bloom’s Taxonomies provide clear action verbs that describe what students are expect to be doing in order to obtain objectives.  Some of the well-defined and observable action words that I applied to the standard objectives that I choose were: find, modeled, synthesize, apply, construct and exhibit.  To target my lesson to my students and the desired level of understanding, I started with objectives that would build understanding. I ended with activities and objectives that addressed different types of thinking and also met the dimension of integration through hands on application of concepts.   My goal as a teacher who follows the Common Core Standards will be to successfully transfer knowledge and no-how to my students so that they may intelligently and effectively draw from their repertoires, independently, to handle new situations on their own.


After this unit, I feel that I now have a good understanding of how a lesson should be created, from the bottom up.  I understand that I do not have to follow standards in any particular order, as long as I am building on previous skills as a starting point.  I also understand that standards overlap subjects.  An ELA standard can be met while writing reflections about a math or science lesson.  If is probably a good idea to be aware of all of the various standards before planning a year to see where they fall and overlap. Personally, I feel that the constriction of trying to apply garden related lessons to meet standard objectives will sometimes be a challenge due to my lack of experience.  It might also provide me with some highly interesting real world situations that make for some engaging hands-on lessons that energize my students and I am looking forward to the challenge.

Standards and Backward Mapping

I will be student teaching in a third grade general classroom in Portland, Or and will be using the Common Core State Standards.  I choose the following standard for developing my unit because I hope to involve my classroom in designing our new school garden.  The ideas of area and perimeter are important to garden design.   I am thee driving force behind it’s actualization and as a student teacher I feel obligated to utilize the garden and act as an example.  The standard I chose requires that my students solve real world and mathematical problems involving perimeters of polygons, such as they will need to know when we consider our garden beds.  Ideally, my students will also get outside and help us map out where our raised beds will be placed before our build day in late March.  The initial lessons will help familiarize my students with concepts that we will later apply to mapping out the garden beds.


Established Goal:

Solve “real world and mathematical problems” involving perimeters of polygons, including finding the perimeter given the side lengths, finding an unknown side length, and exhibiting rectangles with the same perimeter and different areas or with the same area and different perimeters.

Topic: Solving real world mathematical problems involving polygons.


Students will know how to:

  1. Find the area of complex figures.
  2. Find the perimeter of a polygon given the side lengths.
  3. Find the length of an unknown side length given other information.
  4. Exhibit rectangles with the same perimeter and different areas or with the same area and different perimeters.


  1. Discuss the example of the complex figure. Find the area of the figure.  Choose one student for each step of the process.  Students take turns in pairs solving the problems on the What is the Area? activity sheet,one step at a time.
  2. The students should model the changes in the seating plan from the story with square tiles while the teacher models the changes at the document projector.  Working in pairs, allow students to solve the problem, recording their solutions on construction paper.
  3. Have students count out 24 paperclips and clip them together into a loop to model the different fences in the story. Read the story aloud, stopping to allow the students to model the fence each time it changes using the paper clip loop and for the teacher to record the dimensions and perimeter. Students should: model each rectangular pen with the paper clip loop, record the pen on the grid paper, label each pen with the perimeter (P) and the area (A). Allow students to work in pairs to complete the activity. Calculators may be used.
  4. You will also create two monsters. The first monster will have an area of 63 square centimeters. The second monster will have a perimeter of 46 centimeters


  1. As students work, pose questions and observe them to check for their understanding. Students’ work from the elaborate section can be used as a summative assessment.  Choose one student to explain each step to the class.
  2. As students work, pose questions and observe them.  Review the students’ performance task from the elaborate section.  Have students share their answers with the class.  Ask students after doing group work, ‘did you solve it in the same way? If not, how did you find the area?  In order to assess understanding, record responses and then ask, ‘how do these strategies compare?
  3. As students work, pose questions such as, “how many square feet do the chickens have to roam inside? How do we know?” Continue with the different sized chicken coops during the story and observe them.  Review the students’ performance task from the elaborate section.  The students should be able to look for and make use of structure and look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
  4. As students work, pose questions and observe them.  Review the students’ performance task from the elaborate section.  The students should be able to order their monsters on the board by first determining who has the shortest perimeter/ smallest area, then finding the next shortest/smallest, and so on.



Thoughts to consider: Having learned key content, what will students be able to do with it?  Transfer is about intelligently and effectively drawing from your repertoire, independently, to handle new situations on your own.





Applying Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports

  • Describes the PBIS
  • and SWPBIS frameworks and their importance.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) when applied at the School-wide level is frequently called: SWPBS

The underlying theme is teaching behavioral expectations in the same manner as any core curriculum subject.

Typically, a team comprised of administrators, classified, and regular and special education teachers members of the school will attend a training. . The school will focus on three to five behavioral expectations that are positively stated and easy to remember. In other words, rather than telling students what not to do, the school will focus on the preferred behaviors. Here are some examples from other schools:

  • Respect Yourself, Respect Others, and Respect Property
  • Be Safe, Be Responsible, Be Respectful
  • Respect Relationships and Respect Responsibilities

The team will then create a matrix of what the behavioral expectations look like, sound like, and feel like in all the non-classroom areas.


  • Identifies the core principles of the positive behavior intervention and support (PBIS) framework


We can effectively teach appropriate behavior to all children. All PBIS practices are founded on the assumption and belief that all children can exhibit appropriate behavior. As a result, it is our responsibility to identify the contextual setting events and environmental conditions that enable exhibition of appropriate behavior.

Intervene early. It is best practices to intervene before targeted behaviors occur. If we intervene before problematic behaviors escalate, the interventions are much more manageable. Highly effective universal interventions in the early stages of implementation which are informed by time sensitive continuous progress monitoring, enjoy strong empirical support for their effectiveness with at-risk students.

Use of a multi-tier model of service delivery. PBIS uses an efficient, needs-driven resource deployment system to match behavioral resources with student need. To achieve high rates of student success for all students, instruction in the schools must be differentiated in both nature and intensity. To efficiently differentiate behavioral instruction for all students. PBIS uses tiered models of service delivery.

Use research-based, scientifically validated interventions to the extent available. No Child Left Behind requires the use of scientifically based curricula and interventions. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that students are exposed to curriculum and teaching that has demonstrated effectiveness for the type of student and the setting. Research-based, scientifically validated interventions provide our best opportunity at implementing strategies that will be effective for a large majority of students.

Monitor student progress to inform interventions. The only method to determine if a student is improving is to monitor the student’s progress. The use of assessments that can be collected frequently and that are sensitive to small changes in student behavior is recommended. Determining the effectiveness (or lack of) an intervention early is important to maximize the impact of that intervention for the student.

Use data to make decisions. A data-based decision regarding student response to the interventions is central to PBIS practices. Decisions in PBIS practices are based on professional judgment informed directly by student office discipline referral data and performance data. This principle requires that ongoing data collection systems are in place and that resulting data are used to make informed behavioral intervention planning decisions.

Use assessment for three different purposes. In PBIS, three types of assessments are used: 1) screening of data comparison per day per month for total office discipline referrals, 2) diagnostic determination of data by time of day, problem behavior, and location and 3) progress monitoring to determine if the behavioral interventions are producing the desired effects.

  • and how they differ from traditional approaches to managing student behavior.

Primary prevention is significant- in that it -moves the structural framework of each educational unit from reactive approaches to proactive systems change performance. This effort cohesively unites all the adults in using 1) common language, 2) common practices, and 3) consistent application of positive and negative reinforcement

  • Provide at least three examples of the implementation of PBIS in a classroom at the 3rd grade
matrix of what the behavioral expectations look like, sound like, and feel like in all
This matrix will have approximately three positively stated examples for each area.

Teaching in an Inclusive Classroom

In the video,New Teacher Survival Guide, ADHD in the Classroom, the teacher avoids having his lessons go to long or the students quickly loose interest.  The teacher enlists the strategy of keeping his students engaged by doing a ‘do now’ activity.  This activity is set up to grab the attention of his students before they transition into a new activity.  It seems to be effective.  The mentor liked the example of ‘do now’ because it was a power point and was clear and ready to be displayed and did not require the students to have to wait for the teacher to have to write it out on the overhead.  Also, it was left overhead as a reference in case the students forgot what it was they were asked to do.  The ‘do now’ resembled the word of the day that we learned to use in an earlier activity.  Not only does it involve additional exposure to content, but it clearly signifies transitions.

After his students finish their ‘do now’ activity and get through the confusion of not knowing explicitly what to do, they continue to loose focus when his TAs pass out worksheets.  The mentor suggests that the students who need help during transitions have a checklist that they keep on their desks or visual queues in the room that they can use as a reference point to keep them on task.  I wonder if this is more of a crutch than a useful strategy if it teaches the child that they need to rely on the adults in their life in order to figure out the simple steps they need to take to accomplish a routine task.  I wonder if a teacher offered a student $50 if they would be able to condition themselves to learn the class routines or instead learn to rely on social queues or figure out how to make their own list or figure out some other strategy to keep them on task.  I feel that students need to learn self reliance and not additional reliance on adults at every opportunity.

The mentor suggests that the teacher implements use of a large timer that also provides a visual representation so that the students can manage their time.  She says that it present a way for some students to challenge themselves to “beat the clock”, which turns staying on task and finishing assignments into a game.  The teacher feels as though it adds additional pressure to the students.  However I feel that in todays classrooms, a lot is expected of students and they do need to be away of time and learn to manage it.  They also do need to learn how to manage the constraints of pressure.  I agree with the suggestion of a timer and think that the clock  seems like a useful tool.

The mentor was pleased with how the teacher refocused one of his challenging students back on task with kind and supportive words.  I think that is an excellent way to redirect students, with positive support, kindness, calm speaking, and pointing out their success and I plan to use such techniques in my own class. Letting a student knowing that you are there for them, to help them succeed, and to redirect toward their better selves to make better choices will bring about greater long term improvements.

Another effective strategy that the the teacher uses after it is suggested is to directly ask students what they feel is proving challenging to them.  If a teacher can make the environment more conducive to a students needs, maybe by altering the immediate environment or by including teaching strategies that address various learning styles than they will be providing a more engaging environment to capture all students.

The teacher in the video provides both visual and verbal queues in order to interject what he is going to get to in the main lesson so he is setting his kids up to know what to expect in order to smooth out the transition and also sparking an interest in what they have to look forward to learning about.

The mentor suggests to the teacher that he should be more clear about his expectations and requirements.  He tells them that they need to figure it out themselves and can’t offer examples to the class, but the mentor seems to think that maybe he didn’t offer enough guidance to begin with.  The teacher should be explicit about what he expects, including the process of turning in their work. I like the idea of having lessons prepared on overheads when appropriate so that the students can read along and reference the instruction rather than provide them with an opportunity to be distracted while waiting for me to write it out.

One strategy that I think would help the students of the teacher in the video stay on task would be to make sure that they are very clear on expectations.  If the students are clear on the process and expectations they then will know that after they finish an assignment that it goes into the finished work bin or that all questions are to be held until after a certain point.  With enough reiteration and presentation of rules in establishing norms, the class learns without fail what to expect.  Students who have more trouble transitioning between activities would do better when clear on class routines.

The mentor is an expert on ADHA behavior challenges.  She offers guidance to the teacher who has less experience with students with this issue.   Her role is to enrich his perspective on what it is that his students need and to provide him with strategies.  Her strategies prove to be helpful and they improve the effectiveness of the new teachers ability to cover the necessary content and keep his class on task.

Applying Classroom Rules and Procedures

When my students do a good job at following rules and procedures, I will acknowledge their willingness to be a positive influence in the class.  One way that I plan to do this is by offering ‘compliments’ to my students. Rather than placing emphasis on speaking the names of students who are well behaved in that moment to serve as a reminder to other students, I want to change the intention to be focusing on an individual student who is choosing to act right and focusing on precisely what it is that I appreciate at that time about how they are choosing to contribute to our classroom culture.  I want to make it more about the contribution made by the good choices students are making and having that student feel good and valued rather than superficially naming a handful of students who happen to be quiet, which can lead to other students feeling negatively that they weren’t mention in the mix of named students.  I want the gratitude that I express for a student’s effort to come off as sincere and meaningful.

When I do see students sitting quietly and following procedures, I will provide them with smiles, nods and private non-verbal acknowledgments. I also plan to discuss with my students at the start of the year that we are a team and celebrate each other equally.  If one student receives a compliment, it does not degrade or reduce the value of other students.  Many students can be valued for the same qualities.  Sometimes students feel if a classmate receives a compliment, it means that they are therefore inadequate and it can lead to sore feelings.  I want the process of modeling and valuing good behavior choices to be a positive learning experience in its own right.

I will use reinforcement of positive behaviors and recognize students adherence to rules and procedures.  This will sometimes appear as me  asking students to model how to do something for the rest of the class and then complementing  those students on how I appreciated how seriously they took the task and how well they modeled a certain part of the task. When I call on a student to answer a tough question, I will let them know how much I appreciate that they were willing to take a risk and be a leader for the rest of the class.  Also, constantly scanning the class and speaking compliments, sharing gratitude and giving details about the traits that I observe that I appreciate and that uphold our class charter or rules.

In the example in chapter 7, Mr. Hutchins makes sure that he acknowledges how well rules and procedures are being followed, never allowing positive behavior to go unnoticed. He must have excellent ‘withitness’ and constantly scan the classroom.  In a classroom that I observed in which I felt the teacher had excellent classroom management, I noticed that she tirelessly complemented and thanked her students for their positive behavior.  She looked about and scanned her room at every opportunity.  The difference between the teacher that I am speaking of, Mrs. Womack, and the example of Mr. Hutchins is that Mrs. Womack never had to address negative behavior because there was none.  This teacher had spent so much time cultivating and reinforcing positive behavior in the start of the year that she circumvented the need to address negative behavior.  The class did create rules at the start of the year, but what kept the students in order was the teachers constant modeling and reiteration of expectations.  Unfortunately, I was unable to watch Mrs. Womack at the start of her year set her students up for such stellar behavioral success. She told me that she starts the year with her 2nd graders by placing heavy emphasis on tangible recognition such as stickers.  Then she uses lots of affection, teacher reaction and ‘withitness’ and weans them off of tangible rewards systems without using any punishment.  This sounds like a great approach to me and her class was the best well run that I have seen.

Though the authors of The Art of Science of Teaching and the majority of teachers in my experience believe that consequences should be negative as well as positive, I generally disagree.  I am especially against the use of behavior charts and most ‘fines’ within a classroom economy.  I am far more interested in developing intrinsic motivation within my students by using a system of positive reinforcement and a democratic system.

I generally plan to avoid negative consequences as well as rewards.  I plan to make my students responsible for their behavior and plan to be clear with the expectations that I hold for them, but whether or not they meet them will be up to them.  When my students blatantly avoid following classroom rules and procedures and their behavior repeatedly detracts from learning I will involve their parents and incorporate a home contingency. Having all parties aware of the issues and supporting step by step solutions to address specific negative behaviors will show the student that we are all very serious about them making improvements.  I will use a behavior chart like the one I created in the previous unit to share with parents and their student to precisely communicate what the issues and behaviors are so that we can develop simple strategies that provide support and empowerment.

I agree somewhat with the statement that, “rules and procedures for which there are no consequences—positive and negative—do little to enhance learning”.  I agree that if there are class rules and the students are allowed to behave how they wish or are reminded to be quiet without follow up then they do hold little value.  However, I don’t think consequences need to be punitive.  I think that attention needs to be brought to reinforce good choices and that poor choices can be discussed in class meetings in a democratic style.  I prefer the idea of discussing what is working and  what is not and involving the class in coming up with solutions with an emphasis on teamwork.

At the end of day, I plan to provide a brief end of day reconnection summary of class perceptions of how well students followed the rules and procedures. My students will be invited to share their observations. At the end of each week during these classroom discussions we will discuss what is going well in class and we will problem solve issues shared earlier in the week together.

Being in a highly intense confrontational situation is a challenge for most any adult. If I am ever in a situation where a student has lost control I will be sure to give the student space, stay calm and practice active listening.  Later, we will discuss the issue so that there is understanding. I think it is important to help students understand their issue and for them to be able to describe it and see how there are better choices.  Beyond this, I will work to specifically improve my relationship with students who display an abundance of behavior issues.


It is generally thought to be appropriate to take actions such as a time out or overcorrection in instances when concrete consequences for inappropriate behavior are needed.  Typically, these types of direct-cost consequences are applied once a negative behavior has progressed beyond a point where it can be addressed by withitness.  One example is ‘time-out’ or separating the student from the activity that the rest of the student body are partaking in.  Students who have demonstrated an inability to control themselves are asked to sit elsewhere, where they are not permitted to interact with any members of the class until they are ready to fully engage in the activity that is taking place and can adhere to rules and procedures.   It should be used as a last resort and to help students understand and control their offending behavior so that they can return to regular classroom activities as soon as possible.

Overcorrection involves engaging students in activities that overcompensate for inappropriate behavior.  The most reasonable way in my mind that they can also be applied is to damage done to a class’s opportunity to learn by a student’s poor choices. For example, if a student has disrupted a presentation by me, thus robbing their classmates of valuable information, I could require the student to summarize the information contained in the lesson and possibly provide a recount to their classmates.  Another teacher I know overcorrected a group of students who repeatedly disrupted their dance ‘specials’ class, by having them outside of class study related material on ballet and demanded that they pass a quiz he proctored just to them to show that if they weren’t willing to pay attention in class they were going to have to learn the information on their free time.

I will try to take a balanced approach with my students and acknowledge both positive behavior and negative behavior. I personally plan to place a heavier emphasis on promoting positive behavior and helping my students find solutions and develop tools they can use to avoid negative behaviors and to make better choices.  I will use verbal and nonverbal acknowledgment, tangible recognition, and share positive behavior choices with students and parents.  To curb negative behaviors I will develop my ‘withitness’ and keep a keen eye out for potential issues and also steer my students away from making them by offering complements and gratitude for their good choices.   I will also use home contingency and involved parents so that my students are confronted with a united team of support that reinforces high expectations and helps them practice good decision making.



Creating High Performance Learning Environments

When considering the three videos, all of them show effective strategies teachers can use to hold high expectations of their students.  The first video shows how a teacher can reinvent their teaching style to include more student controlled learning experiences.  In video one,Donna Migdol is teaching her kids a high level physics lesson and they are responsible for designing it.  She promotes autonomous learning where students value each other ideas.  They are able to share ideas freely in a group setting. She has them do a lot of learning through trial and error and requires that they give insightful input into the missteps and their causes.  She requires deep understanding and the ability to explain their reasoning with the proper terminology.  She forces them to be creative and develop their problem solving skills by giving them stiff constraints.  They are able to match their learning styles and strengths to the job they choose to participate in which provides a place for each student to reflect upon their progress.

In video two, the teacher also holds high expectations for her class.  She is drilling them and I am sure they all feel a fair amount of pressure to succeed.  In China, it is common to post a list of the students on the wall in order of class position as a motivating factor.  They use peer pressure and it is part of their culture to be the “number one” student.  I lived in China for a year as a student and I am aware of their tendency to study hard and long to memorize the facts; often in a rote fashion as seen in the video.  Regardless of whether I prefer this approach or not, it is clear that these students are held to high expectations.

In the third the video, the teacher is using tactile or kinetic teaching techniques to engage her students.  Many students store information better if they are able to involve physical activity.  Also, she is able to see which students are paying attention or not.  She then has her students repeat what they learned while using the body motions.  She is very clear with her rules and expectations.  She focuses on having students improve their reading speed by playing Superspeed reading games.  The more familiar they are with sight words, the more quickly they can read.  Quick reading and good comprehension are important for student success.

I think all of the videos show high behavior expectations.  The students in video one are quiet, attentive and respectful.  The teacher must demand such behavior.  All students have to communicate their ideas; not just keep them to themselves.  This engages all students and sets into place high expectations for all.  She encourages lots of team work and inter-reliance.  Each student is aware that they need to pull their own weight.

Behavior expectations are also high in video two.  The children are expected to work hard and strive to be the best.  The education in China is often formal, with uniforms and children often study in boarding schools.  They are all expected to be high achievers and statistics show that most of the urban students will be.  The way in which the teacher drills her students and seems to have good attention from such young students is an indicator that these children know what is expected of them.

Behavioral expectations are high in the third video.  Ms. Shayne keeps her students so busy with kinetic learning approaches that they likely wouldn’t have time for goofing around.  She can see who is participating and who is slacking.  She holds all of her students to the same standard.  Rather than letting them slack, she has taken initiative to keep them engaged in a creative way, which provides them will more opportunities to act right.

The norms and procedures in these scenarios that support high student performance are as follows. In video one, they are able to share ideas freely in a group setting as a procedure implemented to aid their scientific exploration.   One norm is for students to expect to do a self and peer assessment and to receive a teacher assessment.  She creates a safe space for students to freely share observations and thoughts and set themselves up to meet their goals, stretch their thinking and excel.

The norms in video two are that the students will work hard, respect the teacher and do what is asked of them.  They are allowed in general a fair amount less freedom and more practice time than American students.  In this video, they are asked to recite with the teacher some number formulas.  There is no goofing around, they are expected to do the work.  The procedure is reciting the lesson material.

In video three, the norms or rules are clearly stated by the students with accompany motions.  This keeps her students clear on the class expectations.  When the teacher wants them to turn to a specific page, they students know that the procedure is to repeat what she says three times.  This keeps the students engage and helps them store the



Next year I hope to teach 2nd or 3rd grade.  My students will come from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, many of which will be ELL students.  80% in my district qualify for free and reduced lunch and have troubled and stressed family lives.  Overall, it is not an easy student population to work with.

Of the three strategies that I observed by watching the videos, I most relate with Donna Migdol, the teacher from video one.  She seems to share my passion for creating life long problem solvers who can confront a problem, ask themselves what they need to do to modify it, figure out how they are going to fix it and feel capable enough to sep up to the task and get the job done.  I think her strategy is commendable in how it sets her kids up to be creative problem solvers.  She definitely holds high expectations of her kids.  She gives them a wide reign from which to contribute in ways that speak to their strengths and as well as pushes them to dig deeper and ask more of themselves.  I hope that the learning environment that I create incorporates Ms. Migdol’s strategies as much as I am able.

I do find some value in rote memorization as exemplified in the second video.  It is a classic approach that I came across when viewing homeschooling curriculum for my own children and it does seem effective to a point.  I think there needs to be a balance between that type of teaching and holding those types of rigid expectations and being able to cultivate creative and critical thinking in students.  The two don’t have to be entirely exclusive.  According to the article on the Chinese system, their teachers stress logical reasoning and it sounds, a constructivist approach.  Being able to build upon a solid understanding is what any teacher would hope for.  I like a writing program called, “Excellence in Writing”, that uses a lot of repetition.  I also think that memorizing and reciting poems and multiplication facts builds discipline.  That is where a system like that in video two excels; in that it develops students with high self-discipline.  I would certainly be open to learning more techniques like those.

The third video shows a strategy that is likely effective in promoting high expectations to a certain type of student.  When I was a student, I was sometimes challenged with the amount of focus needed to comprehend a lesson.  I have actually employed some of the physical activities shown in video three while reading on my own.

This teacher keeps her potentially challenging students engaged and involved by using strategies that involve other parts of their brains, keeping them focused and helping them retain her lessons. I could see this being useful and will likely look into it further.  It seems like it would be especially useful for young boys who need to wiggle and move.  I might not make my practice so obvious, but I could see allowing students to stand up to do their work, move around the room during certain times, and to gesticulate or what have you while reading and trying to commit something to memory as being useful tools.

To me and in how I could imagine using the Whole Brain strategy, it would only be to provide them with tools to meet high expectations.  I don’t think I’d use it as a strategy to keep track of who was participating or a way to keep them engaged as a group the way it seems she is.  Allowing my students to get creative in how they will meet our shared goal of having them meet high classroom expectations can show sensitivity to their needs and a good sense of fun about learning.