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This is the third issue of the ACCESS newsletter, and we want your feedback. Please complete a brief survey about your experience with the newsletter.
In response to your feedback so far, we’ve made a few changes to the structure of the newsletter. This month, we’ll go deep on one criterion in the framework: 3a. Next month we’ll share strategies and ideas that your teachers can use to improve practice in criterion 3a. We’ll follow the same every-other-month cycle throughout the year, allowing us to both go deep on the framework and to share strategies and resources for teachers. We’re also introducing “Practice Perfect” this month, a section focused on the role of the observer and the steps and skills needed to ensure DPAS-II is focused on teacher growth and development. In the following months, we’ll share tools and resources for each of these steps as you work to grow your own practice as an observer and coach of teachers.
Digging Deeper
Engaging Students in Learning
Students being engaged in learning is at the center of the Delaware Framework for Teaching. “Engagement” does not mean just that students are busy, but that they are cognitively active in the learning and content. In a lesson in which students are cognitively engaged, students, not the teacher, are doing the majority of the thinking. The teacher structures the activities, assignments, student groupings, materials and pacing of the lesson to foster this engagement. But ultimately, student engagement happens when students are thinking through problems and creating solutions.

Criterion 3a in the Delaware Framework for Teaching is Engaging Students in Learning. The criterion language at the effective performance level is: “Students are intellectually engaged throughout the lesson with appropriate activities and materials, instructive representations of content and suitable structure, and pacing of the lesson.” Charlotte Danielson , the author of the Delaware Framework for Teaching, defines four core elements of criterion 3a. They are:

  • Activities and assignments - the teacher has selected activities and assignments that are appropriate to students and cognitively engaging
  • Grouping of students - the teacher has created instructional groups with intentionality to foster student engagement
  • Instructional materials and resources - the materials and resources students are using align to the lesson goals and engage students
  • Structure and pacing - the lesson structure is clearly defined, and pacing is appropriate.

As with many criterion in the framework, student independence increases as practice moves up in effectiveness in the language of the framework. Achieving high levels of student engagement depends heavily on the activities, assignments, materials, and lesson structure being both well aligned to the lesson objective, and on being appropriately engaging.

Next month, we’ll feature resources and strategies that you can use to support teachers with increasing the student cognitive engagement in their lessons. What strategies have you seen teachers use to deeply engage students in the content of the lesson? Tell us about them!
Share this with your teachers!
Click the links below to access materials for a 90-minute PD focused on Criterion 3a in the Delaware Framework for Teachers. This PD and the accompanying materials are designed to help you to facilitate a deep dive into the language of the rubric and to ensure that, across the state, all teachers and leaders share a core definition of good teaching according to the Delaware Framework for Teachers. Next month, we'll share resources and ideas for strategies teachers can implement to engage students in learning.
The Delaware Department of Education has created a resource to support you with Roster Verification and the Roster Verification System. This resource includes FAQs, important timelines, and details on the RVS process.

 Click the button above to download the RVS resource, and be sure to share it with teachers.
Practice Perfect: The Observation Process
Observing teacher practice and supporting teacher improvement and growth comes with deeply knowing the DE Framework for Teaching, and with sharpening skills in observation and coachin g. At its core, DPAS-II supports teacher development and growth. As an observer, your responsibility is to translate what you observe in the classroom to feedback and support for teachers. This month, we’re introducing four core steps of the observation process. Starting next month, we’ll go deep on one step in the process and provide tools and resources to help you sharpen your practice.
Have an idea for a tool or resource we should feature? Please let us know!
Collect Evidence

When you are in the classroom conducting an observation, your core task is to collect evidence. Evidence is an objective description of something observed. It makes no suggestion of quality; it is not interpretation. Evidence is non-judgmental: it does not assess for quality or draw conclusions. Evidence is also specific; it describes exactly what was observed.

Collect evidence now, interpret later. Just focus on collecting evidence; avoid the temptation to interpret the evidence while in the observation. Leave your copy of the framework in your office so that you can focus solely on noting what you see and hear in the classroom. Listed below are a few tips for collecting evidence:

  • Make a t-chart on your paper with the left column for teacher actions and the right column for student actions. Write what you see and hear in the appropriate column.
  • Sit with a table/group of students. Write down the questions asked and answers given by the students in that group.
  • Ask for a copy of any handouts that students are working on and record their answers directly onto it.
  • Check for “I think” or “I feel” statements to ensure your notes are free of interpretation.
  • Select a problem, determine the correct answer, and tally the number of students who have the correct response written on their papers.
  • Ask students to tell you what they are learning/doing, why they are learning it, and if they have learned anything new today.
  • Use the stopwatch on your phone to time sections of the lesson and transitions.

Assign Ratings

Once you have completed the observation, the next step is to assign ratings on each criterion of the Delaware Framework for Teachers. You should do this after you have left the classroom. There are many methods for assigning ratings. A common method is to “bucket” evidence. Go through your observation notes, and next to each piece of evidence, note the criterion to which that evidence aligns. This is the “bucketing.” Once you have tagged all the evidence, go through each individual bucket of evidence, and compare the evidence to the language of the criterion in the framework. This is the step where referencing the Element Rubric in the DPAS-II Guide can help too. Your job is to assign a rating to each criterion based on the language of the framework and how the evidence you collected aligns. Avoid the temptation to extrapolate your evidence; instead rate only on what you collected.

Prepare Feedback

Once you’ve assigned ratings based in the language of the framework for each criterion, you can identify strengths of the lesson, and areas for development. Start by identifying one or two core strengths, with precise evidence describing specifically what happened. Be prepared to share with the teacher at least one practice or moment that was really strong, based on the expectations outlined in the Delaware Framework for Teaching. Then, identify the one area that, if the teacher improved, he or she would see progress in the classroom. You may have a teacher who has several lower ratings on the framework. It’s important not to list all of those as areas to improve at the same time. Instead, identify the one or two areas that the teacher can work on and leverage to improve more broadly. Be sure to note the specific rating, the evidence that led to that rating, and how the language in the framework supports the rating based on the evidence. Then, identify the support and resources you will offer to help the teacher improve.

Support Teacher Self-Reflection

The best way to ensure a successful Post-Observation Conference is to encourage your teachers to self-reflect and self-assess before the conference. Suggest to the teacher to review the Framework and to assign him or herself a rating on each criterion. Describe the process you use to assign ratings (consider evidence, read the criterion language, pick the rating that best matches the evidence) and encourage teachers to do the same. Self-reflection is not required, but teachers who do so before the Post-Observation Conference have a higher likelihood of having a productive discussion about practice. Plus, by hearing from the teacher how he or she rates his or her own performance, you will have a sense of how aligned you and the teacher are, which can help you to formulate your feedback and support in a way that will be best received.

Next month we'll discuss evidence, and look at examples of specific, non-judgmental evidence, as well as tips and resources for collecting strong evidence.

What practices support you in completing observations and support teacher development? Share them with us!
What's on the agenda?
What should be on your DPAS-II to-do list this month:

  • Complete all Experienced Educator observations
  • Complete Novice Educator observations #3 or #4
  • Verify RVS Group 1 educators and rosters
  • Find relevant resources and information you need at the Educator Evaluation homepage on the DDOE website.
DPAS-II Danielson's Prerecorded Calibration Webinar Series
PDMS Course #25969
Webinar #4
February 21-March 21
DPAS-II Teacher/Specialist
System Review Camp
PDMS Course #26503
March 8, 2018
Government Support Services Building, Dover
Delaware School Leader Academy
Looking at Data Differently - What's Your Story?
PDMS Course #26491
March 22, 2018
Capital School District Board Room