Byron's Babbles

Teacher Evaluation Norming: “What Can We Create Together?”

file4When creating the ideal school community for meaningful teacher evaluation we must clearly define the expectations for effective teaching at our schools. We must also effectively communicate the criteria that will be used to evaluate teacher performance. Personally, I believe the most important aspect of teacher evaluation is to ensure professional growth for our teachers in order to move them toward being highly effective. Our school has become a part of the Indiana Teacher Appraisal and Support System (INTASS) and I love how Dr. Sandi Cole, Director of Center on Education and Lifelong Learning puts it: “Teacher evaluation must be something done for teachers, not to them.” This statement has become a core value of our work of overhauling our entire teacher evaluation process. The INTASS process rests on four basic elements of a quality evaluation plan: a) Clear, frequent, and transparent communication among a wide base of stakeholders; b) Professional practice measures that are mutually agreed upon by stakeholders; c) Multiple measures of student learning outcomes, and d) Fully aligned post-evaluation processes, including job-embedded professional growth and support for all educators.

Another crucial part of this process is the norming of evaluators. We have chosen to have a monthly retreat of our evaluation team to ensure that evaluators have an accurate and aligned perception of classroom practice and student growth. This norming process also guarantees assigned evaluation ratings that are accurate reflections of teacher effectiveness. During norming, evaluators align or “calibrate” their scoring so that every member of the team applies the rubric consistently across teachers, and of the team of evaluators scores consistently with one another (inter-rater reliability). Having similar scoring and uniform expectations of teacher effectiveness is critical if you want to make meaningful comparisons among teachers.

I have also found the norming to be a good time for our administrative staff to engage in professional development for the purpose supporting effective leading of learning. A healthy team culture—and ultimately the school’s performance—rely on the team’s ability to encourage individual improvement in constructive ways. Through our norming process, administrative team members are learning and practicing the skills and dispositions necessary to mentor, coach, and evaluate colleagues. Our norming process has enabled the team to practice a model of shared leadership. By having regular norming retreats, team members are able to refine their collaboration skills and dispositions to ensure the team’s ability to act according to its shared purpose of enabling and empowering all of our teachers to be highly effective.

At this past week’s norming retreat I was struck by the amount of learning and professional growth that also went on with the administrative team of evaluators. There were discussions of how to more effectively use technology, sharing of best practices witnessed such as for checking for mastery, and new ways of engaging students; just to name a few. We even discussed the use of Emojis for engaging students. I couldn’t help but draw my own Emoji (shared in the picture above) as I graphically facilitated the norming retreat. We also were able to identify areas where we need to provide professional development learning opportunities for our teachers. I believe my role as a leader is not necessarily to always be a better role model or to drive change; my role is to create structures and experiences that bring our community of staff members together to identify and solve their own issues and drive improvement. Holding these norming retreats has enabled this structure of experiences for our administrative staff.

This norming process has become an important piece of being able for our school community to answer the question of “What can we create together?” I believe we are creating a community of continual improvement and one where our teachers are valued as professionals and given the feedback and resources to be the very best. I am attaching images of our notes from our latest norming retreat so you can see what went on:

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Community Is The Culture

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-6-26-00-amThis past week I had the opportunity with Mike Fleisch to do a design sprint (what others would call a workshop) on our school’s Focused Leader Academy. During our design sprint we built models together of what a community would look like where there is a serious commitment to developing leaders. I told the design sprint participants that I now described what we were doing as community building, not culture building. Culture emerges from the past values we develop together. I would rather us live in the context of the world we live in now and, more importantly, how do we want the world to be. With this worldview in mind, we wanted the group think about what a community of people in a school could create together.file

Daniel Goleman said “Executives who can effectively focus on others emerge as natural leaders regardless of organizational or social rank.” These leaders are the ones who find common ground, whose opinions carry the most weight, and with whom other people want to work.They emerge as natural leaders regardless of organizational or social rank. As leaders we need focus on others, which is the foundation of empathy and of an ability to build social relationships.

As a leader I believe it is important for me to be available to stakeholders so that I have the opportunity to meet others, engage in conversation, and share thoughts, ideas and concerns, and to build community and a sense of belonging. It has been my experience that those I serve have lots of wisdom, the ability to make connections, and to help come up with solutions. screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-6-39-50-am

Peter Block said “We will never eliminate our need for great leaders and people on the stage; we just cannot afford to put all our experience and future in their hands.” To be a transformative leader we must create communities (a community can be our organization, school, or business too) that produce deeper relatedness across boundaries. Additionally we need to  create new conversations that focus on the gifts and capacities of others.

“Leaders are held to three tasks: to shift the context within which people gather, name the debate through powerful questions, and listen rather than advocate, defend, or provide answers.” ~ Peter Block

I have now begun to talk in terms of community instead of culture. We need to begin to think of all the contexts we operate within are communities. Community then grows out of the possibilities of those in our communities. It is those citizens that build our communities. I have learned that the culture is the set of shared values that emerges from the history of experience and the story that is produced out of that. It is the past that gives us our identity and corrals our behavior in order to preserve that identity. Context is the way we see the world. Peter Block taught us to see the world, not remember the world. screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-6-41-26-am

So, as we continue to improve the communities in which we live, work, and lead we need to continually ask the question “What can we create together?” This emerges from the social space we create when we are together.

Show Me A Leader

cupmc51wyae0csxBy now, most of you know that the great rock band, Alter Bridge, has changed my life in the last year. The release of “Show Me A Leader” has rocked my world and the way I think about leadership. Click here to watch the video I made of “Show Me A Leader.” Here are some verses/phrases from the song that have really resonated with me:

  • “Well they’re selling another messiah here tonight; But we’re all way too numb and divided; To buy it”  – we should never put our leaders in a position of needing to be a messiah, or the chosen one. Nor, should we ever consider ourselves, as leaders, above others and in messiah status. According to my faith, there is only one of those and there will not be another.
  • “Show me a leader that won’t compromise” – we cannot as leaders compromise our values.
  • “Disillusioned and tired of waiting; For the one; Whose intentions are pure unpersuaded; We can trust” – we need to earn trust and make sure our intentions are always pure and unpersuaded by self interest and are for the good of the whole.
  • “‘Cause a promise is never enough” – pretty self explanatory; don’t promise what you cannot deliver, period.
  • “It’s getting harder to fight out here on our own” – Sun Tzu taught us the skillful leader subdues the enemy without any fighting. This means we need a leader that will help us have the conversations of what we can do to create the future. The communal possibility rotates on the question “What can we create together?” This emerges from the social space we create when we are together.
  • “Show me a leader that knows what is right” – To do “the right thing” means to make a choice among possibilities in favor of something the collective wisdom of humanity knows to be the way to act. Great leaders must call upon a broad band of intuitive knowledge and use it to give guidance and direction. If a person comes to a position of power as a leader in an organization or in society without knowing how to do the right thing, then the people under his or her influence are in for a bad time. At worst they will find themselves plunged into brutal conflict with outside forces, or at best they will spend a lot of time and energy struggling with internal disharmony and damage control.
  • “Show me a leader so hope can survive” – Great leaders often earn their credentials before they become successful. Often, it’s during the times of darkness and hardship that the greatest leaders are born. Hope is the ingredient to which failure knows no answer. And great leaders instill this belief to help the others around them. Hopes and dreams can become real. But often to do so they need life consistently breathed into them. To keep them alive until they are transmuted into reality. Great leaders do this by consistently communicating their beliefs to their followers in the form of visions. They take every opportunity they can – through being a role model, meetings, presentations and writing to describe their visions as crystal clear as possible.
  • “We need a hero this time” – There are leaders, there are great leaders, and then there are heroic leaders. The best of the best put others before themselves. They sprint into danger. They pay dearly for their courage, and they often go years, if ever, without the recognition they deserve.

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-11-21-39-amThese bullets have become guides for me and benchmarks for some of my personal core values. Particularly this thought of not compromising. Click here to read my thoughts on compromise in “There Can Be No Compromise!

Furthermore, the music video for “Show Me A Leader” is amazing. Click here to watch the video. In fact, I have now used it three times to lead discussions on leadership. Throughout, and at the beginning of this post are graphics done by Mike Fleisch of the sessions we have facilitated on this great song and video.

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