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Under our teacher evaluation system, teachers have a choice between four options for classroom observation:
- Observation Option 1: A minimum of one formal classroom observation and three informal observations is required.
- Observation Option 2: A minimum of six informal classroom observations is required.
- Observation Option 3: The principal or other evaluator conducts four informal observations. The teacher makes his or her classroom available for two non-evaluative visits from a colleague. (Available only to teachers rated Effective and Highly Effective the prior year.)
- Observation Option 4: The principal or other evaluator makes three informal observations. The teacher makes his or her classroom available for three non-evaluative visits from a colleague. (Available only to teachers rated Highly Effective the prior year)
Educators may also decide whether or not they consent to have any observations videotaped.
A formal classroom observation is announced, takes a full period and requires a pre-observation conference and a post-observation conference. At the pre-observation conference, the teacher and the principal or other evaluator discuss the lesson focus, activities, students to be taught and expectations. At the post-observation conference, the two reflect upon the teacher’s performance during the observation and discuss student work and learning outcomes and how they could guide future teaching practice. The Danielson rubric provides a framework for these conversations.
For informal classroom observations, the principal or other evaluator makes unannounced short visits to the teacher’s classroom for a minimum of 15 minutes per visit. The evaluator must provide feedback to the teacher, whether through an in-person conversation, a phone call or an email. The evaluator writes up a report following each of these informal observations. Your evaluator is required to provide you a copy of his or her report on your informal observations within 90 school days of the observation. You should keep a copy of these reports.
Evaluative observations of a teacher may begin as soon as the teacher has completed his or her Initial Planning Conference and must be completed by the first Friday in June. No more than one evaluator and two school-based observers may be present during a formal or informal observation.
If there are concerns about your professional skills, you can seek assistance from your mentor; your school’s lead teacher (if one exists), the literacy or math coach, the Peer Intervention Program or the Teacher Center. In any case, if the observation report is not used to support disciplinary charges for three years, you have the right to remove it permanently from your file.
Principals have always had the right to make unannounced (informal) visits to your classroom, to ask to see your lesson plan, and to write up what they observe. If you think you are being singled out (e.g., observed more than other staff), you should keep a log of the visits and speak to your chapter leader.