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Announcing the Marzano Art & Science of Teaching Observation and Feedback Protocol

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One issue that concerns me about current discussions about effective teaching and getting teachers’ feedback is a focus on a narrow set of strategies. Let me be specific: in the book Classroom Instruction That Works, we identify nine high-probability strategies—although they got referred to as high-yield strategies, and we did not use that term in the book on purpose because that gets inaccurate information I believe—in the book Classroom Management That Works, we identified five general categories and management strategies. In the book Classroom Grading That Works, we identified four, kind of, general categories, or generalizations about effective formative assessment and grading in the classroom. If you focus on any one of those areas only, you just are missing the big picture in terms of effective teaching. That’s why I’m very much against the observational protocols where they just look at the nine strategies in Classroom Instruction That Works, or protocols that would just look at a few strategies of management, or protocols that would just look at a few assessment strategies. They just don’t make any sense.

So, we can’t describe teaching in the small set of nine instructional strategies or five management strategies or four assessment strategies; I say there’s about 40, 40-plus. But even those can be organized in, hopefully, an elegant and simple way. We try to do that in the Art and Science of Teaching. Those 40 fall into three broad categories—we call them segments—of behaviors that might occur in the classroom. One set is routines, things that occur on a daily basis, and if not daily, they occur systematically. Another large category of behaviors are things that are, we say, enacted on the spot. As they come up they should be dealt with, things/behaviors relative to student engagement, that a teacher will engage in behaviors relative to teacher-student relationship, behaviors relative to rules and procedures. And then the third category of what we call segments or categories of behaviors are different types of lessons. We say there are at least three types of lessons

Many of you remember Madeline Hunter’s work; fine work, incredible lady, still a heroine of mine. But 35 years ago she talked about one type of lesson which is a model called Lesson Design. And actually, if you listen to her, she says there are more than one type of lesson, and this is just the overall framework. We, unfortunately, didn’t listen to her and said, well there’s only one type of lesson. We’ve identified three. So what we’ve tried to do is say, let’s take all of what we know about teaching what the research tells us, it falls down ... it breaks down to 40-plus categories, depending on how you want to organize those. But those themselves can be broken into three broad categories, or lesson segments. And then within those there are distinctions. It’s really not that hard to get, it’s really not. We work with teachers within a single day and they get a feel for the model. They really do. And since it’s so closely related to their experience, it has an intuitive validity to it. So, I think we can finally accept the fact that teachers not only can, but want to, embrace a complex model of teaching—because teaching is a very complex thing. So we can finally operate from that perspective and I think what you’ll find is that it actually honors them, and they’re certainly up to the task. And that’s why I’m very much against these simplistic models, which relegate good teaching to a checklist of a few instructional strategies. I honestly don’t think that’s very good practice.

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