Typhani Harris | April 2015

Dancing into Teacher Evaluations

Dancing Into Teacher Evaluations

As we enter the final stretch of the school year, we thought it would be a great time to bring up the topic of teacher evaluations. With the ongoing discussion of merit pay and performance based compensation, teacher evaluations have become the basis for even more evaluation trepidation.  Teacher evaluations should be more than just observing our classes for a couple minutes at a time, telling us what needs to be fixed, and then determining our teacher efficacy based on that.

Deena Boraie, President of the TESOL International Association outlined nine features of effective teacher evaluation:

  1. The purposes of improving as well as measuring teaching effectiveness.
  2. Based on teacher standards that define teaching and teacher quality.
  3. Linked with professional development.
  4. Include multiple sources of information on teachers’ effectiveness such as observations, student evaluations of teachers, parent surveys, teacher self-report measures, teacher portfolios, and evidence of student learning.
  5. A career ladder as well as merit pay for teachers to recognize and reward teaching excellence.
  6. Trained evaluators so that the evaluations are credible and conducted with expertise.
  7. Require time and money.
  8. Designed in partnership with teachers participating from the beginning.
  9. Takes into account the external factors that impact teachers’ performance and effectiveness.

See her full blog at TESOL

Marzano and Danielson

With this in mind, multiple teacher evaluation systems have popped up throughout our educational world.  Two leading teacher framework systems are Marzano and Danielson.  Specifically with teacher evaluations, both contain four domains as a basis for effective teaching.  Marzano’s four domains are: Classroom Strategies and Behaviors, Planning and Preparation, Reflection on Teaching, and Collegiality and Professionalism.  Danielson’s four domains are: Planning and Preparing, the Classroom Environment, Instruction, and Professional Responsibility.  What is refreshing is the projected outlook of growth, instead of repercussion. Deena Boraie’s nine features fuels that foundation.

Trained and Knowledgeable Evaluators

As an arts educator, what stood out to me in Boraie’s nine features was trained and knowledgeable evaluators.  Arts classrooms work differently than other subjects. It is important evaluators are familiar with the nuances of the arts classroom so that they can effectively evaluate. In addition to, offering appropriate feedback, and areas for growth.  Last year, I attended the National Dance Education Organization’s (NDEO) Charting the Course: Approaches to Teacher Evaluation for K-12 Dance Educators conference in New Mexico.  It provided some concerns about the upcoming evaluations, and opened conversation for preparing for evaluation and educating our evaluators.  For the full article click here.

Dance Literacy for Administrators

One session I enjoyed was Kori Wakamatsu’s Dance Literacy for Administrators. She referred to her approach as a strategic ambush. Unlike the subjects that all administrators have some sort of previous experience in, such as English, Math, History, and Science, we as dance educators have to pack in 12 years of missed dance education as quick as possible. Just so we can develop administrators comprehension in dance literacy. We must invite our administrators into our world, and offer them explicit instruction. They must be shown what they should see, and what to look for. We must provide collaboration opportunities, so that we may speak their language. It is our job to provide research, and be proactive by getting them involved. It is important for administrators to understand dance is one of the few subjects that utilizes all three domains of learning: cognitive (thinking), affective (emotional/feeling), and psychomotor (physical/kinesthetic). We do this innately, daily, and although we know the importance of dance, we must provide this foundation for our administrators so that they too know the value of dance.

Since the conference, NDEO has authored a white paper on the topic of teacher evaluations specifically for dance educators.  The K-12 Teacher Evaluation: Dance Strategies Report (2015) provides an overview of the findings and action plans determined at the conference.  Hopefully this document will inspire more conversations about the evaluation of dance educators and open dialogue between teachers and their evaluators regarding specific areas for evaluation.

So What?

Overall, it appears that teacher evaluation is moving into a more positive light where the focus is on growth and creating quality educators.  The more we are able to inform our evaluators about the nuances of arts education the more they will be able offer quality feedback and help us to grown into quality arts educators.

References &  Resources
Boraie, D. (2014). Nine features of an effective teacher evaluation
Danielson, C. (2013). The framework for teaching.
Harris, T. (2014). Dance teacher evaluation.
Marzano, R. (2015). Teacher evaluation model.
National Dance Eduction Organization (2015). K-12 Teacher Evaluation: Dance Strategies Report.

Next Week: Unpacking the Standards
National Core Arts Standard 9: Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work
Next week we will continue unpacking the national core arts standards with the 9th of 11 articles highlighting the new national arts standards  Each of these articles provide lesson seeds, assignments, and assessments for the the new core arts standards.

About the Author

Dr. Typhani Harris, author of Putting the Performance in Performance Task and Stop Teaching, brings over 2 decades of educational experience to The Institute. Originally a high school English Language Arts teacher, Dr. Harris transitioned into a dance educator who cultivated an award-winning collegiate style dance education program at a public school in California. Prior to joining the Institute, she was an educational leader and instructional coach specializing in preparing new teachers in secondary urban schools.  As the Executive Director of Academic Affairs, Dr. Harris maintains courses, conferences, and the accredited certification program at The Institute.