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Dr. Marzano Explains the Need to Align Walkthroughs, Teacher Evaluations & Professional Development
Let me make an assertion based on my experience, and that is: Districts across the country commonly have this phenomenon going on ... they’ll have a walkthrough protocol that has one focus and one list of pedagogical skills, if you will, which is totally unrelated to their evaluation system for teachers, which has another list and another perspective, which is totally unrelated to their professional development. Those three things should go hand and glove; those three things should operate from the same perspective. In other words, your feedback—vis-a-vis your walkthrough protocol—should be completely aligned with your evaluation system; both of those should be completely aligned with your professional development. And I think that is one of the reasons for the ineffectiveness of the efforts the districts are making across the country to enhance teacher skill and, therefore, student achievement. I really do. And I am not criticizing, you know, people who put those programs together in schools and districts. My experience, again, is that they’re fine people, but they’re working kind of from an isolation, only from their perspective. The walkthrough people have a perspective, and that’s different from teacher evaluation and professional development ... you know, they’re all kind of different camps. You know, they are trying to do the best they can, but not really considering what’s happening with those other efforts. So, to solve that, I would assert, what has to happen is that a school—or better yet a district—starts with a common language-slash-model of instruction. Of course, we would recommend looking at the Art and Science of Teaching and the resources that go along with that. Once they have that in place, then they also develop ... from that, then, springs their feedback to teachers using their walkthroughs, observations ... you know, all of that should be aligned to language of instruction. And teacher evaluations systems should also be aligned to that evaluation ... to that language of instruction.
And then finally, all professional development should focus on that language of instruction. I know it’s a simplistic idea, but I honestly—over decades—have come to the conclusion ... if we did just that, if we said, “Let’s start with a language of instruction in this district, let’s make sure that our feedback to teachers using our observational protocols within our walkthroughs and our observations and structural rounds, you know, is aligned in that language of instruction. Let’s make sure our evaluation system is aligned to that language of instruction. And let’s make sure our PD—our Professional Development—always focuses on that language of instruction. That, in and of itself, I believe would dramatically enhance teachers’ skill, and that would have a dramatic effect on student achievement.