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MIFGASHIM  April 2009

MIFGASHIM April 2009

Subject:

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 62

From:

Lee Buckman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Mon, 20 Apr 2009 15:54:40 +0300

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (197 lines)

Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 62


Contents:

1.	Greetings
2.	Queries:  Promethean Boards (Garfinkel)
3.	Responses:  Staff Morale (Daar)
4.	Marshall Memo:  DuFour and Marzano on Teacher Supervision/Evaluation


~~~~~~~~~


1.	Greetings

We hope everyone had an enjoyable chag.  We are in the home stretch to the end of the 
academic year and wish everyone well in completing your educational, professional, and 
institutional goals.

Mifgashim now resumes its twice-weekly publication on Mondays and Wednesdays.  We 
welcome your questions, reflections, and responses.

Shavua tov.
Lee Buckman
[log in to unmask]


~~~~~~~~~


2.	Queries:  Promethean Boards (Garfinkel)

I am interested in knowing if any schools are using "Promethean boards" (as opposed to 
Smart Boards).  Specifically, I would like to know if teachers have found Promethean 
boards to be friendly to Hebrew use.

Tzivia Garfinkel
Head of Jewish Studies
Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School
Chicago, IL 60613
773-572-1244
[log in to unmask]


~~~~~~~~~


3.	Responses:  Staff Morale (Daar)


I read the essay in Mifgashim Volume 8 Issue 59 entitled “Beating the midwinter blues,” 
which provides a list of good ideas to try and boost staff morale. I definitely relate most 
to the importance of encouraging by telling teachers them which of their practices are 
being noticed for good. 

I think another angle that needs to be addressed is where this lull comes from. I think a 
large part of our sanity is a function of our students' emotions. There is nothing more 
depressing than teaching a class of depressed kids, and kids are most disinterested 
during the January and February months. So doing things to change their classroom 
experience would probably help. I have a few thoughts:

1) Changing around the setup of the room can provide a fresh feel to the classroom. This 
can be done weekly or monthly or whatever.

2) Changing the format of the class. This one is a bit more difficult, but if you can 
develop two different grading systems or teaching styles, and switch midyear, that may 
help.

3) Putting off for then any exciting trips, games, or anything else fun that was planned for 
earlier in the year.

I also think it would be interesting to see the contrast between schools that provide 
breaks in December and February and those that have only one in January.

Yair Daar
[log in to unmask]


~~~~~~~~~


4.	Marshall Memo:  DuFour and Marzano on Teacher Supervision/Evaluation

“Principal evaluation of teachers is a low-leverage strategy for improving schools, 
particularly in terms of the time it requires of principals,” argue Richard DuFour and 
Robert Marzano in this important Educational Leadership article. 

Orchestrating results-oriented teacher team meetings is far more likely to raise student 
achievement, they say. Supervision and evaluation attempt to improve performance one 
teacher at a time, and new teachers need that kind of close attention and support, but for 
most teachers it’s not productive because:

-	Veteran teachers rarely use evaluative feedback. “They are far more likely to 
attribute a poor evaluation to personality conflicts with the principal or to the principal’s 
subjectivity than to weaknesses in their instruction,” say DuFour and Marzano.

-	Secondary-school principals don’t have the subject-area expertise to give credible 
feedback on the rigor, relevance, or clarity of most instruction in their schools.


-	Even when principals help an individual teacher improve, this doesn’t translate to 
improvement for the whole school.

-	Very few teachers are rated unsatisfactory. “The odds are far greater that a 
tenured teacher would be struck by lightning during his or her lifetime than found to be 
an ineffective teacher,” they say.

“[T]ime devoted to building the capacity of teachers to work in teams is far better spent 
than time devoted to observing individual teachers to ensure they are demonstrating the 
right moves in the classroom,” say DuFour and Marzano. “To those who argue that 
teacher supervision is necessary to hold teachers accountable, we contend that there is 
little evidence to support that claim. 

On the other hand, there is abundant evidence that organizing people into teams in which 
they work together to achieve common goals for which members are mutually 
accountable is a powerful structure for promoting individual and collective accountability.”

A typical principal spends at least 120 hours a year on supervision and evaluation (about 
four hours a week). What if principals spent those 120 hours creating high-performing 
collaborative teams by:

-	Scheduling at least an hour each week for team meetings;

-	Focusing the agenda on whether students were acquiring the knowledge and skills 
most essential to continued success;

-	Giving teams the training, support, resources, tools, and templates they need;

-	Dealing with obstacles to collaboration.

Giving teachers state standards or district curriculum guides is not enough, say DuFour 
and Marzano. Teachers can still be teaching vastly different content. When asked, “What 
do we want our students to learn?” the whole team must have the same answer! 

Standards should be trimmed down to those that can realistically be taught in a year, 
with students moving from grade to grade with the skills and knowledge they need to be 
successful. 

The most important tool for each team is common assessments and rubrics that teachers 
can use consistently and cooperatively to check for student mastery, get insights into 
what’s working and not working, and follow up with students who are below mastery. 
Teacher teams should constantly ask, What was learned? and How can we use evidence 
of learning to strengthen our professional practice? 

What is the principal’s role in all this? DuFour and Marzano believe they should monitor 
teams’ ongoing work by asking teachers for:

-	The “guaranteed and viable curriculum” (what students should know and be able to 
do by the end of the year);

-	Pacing guides to ensure everything fits into the calendar; 

-	Common assessments to check for understanding every 5-9 weeks;

-	Their analysis of results to figure out what students didn’t learn and why;

-	Action plans for improving on the results, including professional development for 
teachers in areas where their skills need improvement.

Principals should meet quarterly with teams to review their work, focusing especially on 
evidence of student learning. 

All this, DuFour and Marzano conclude, is a far more effective use of principals’ time than 
traditional supervision and evaluation – and far more likely to produce gains in student 
achievement.

“High-Leverage Strategies for Principal Leadership” by Richard DuFour and Robert 
Marzano in Educational Leadership, February 2009 (Vol. 66, #5, p. 62-68); this article can 
be purchased at 
http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/feb09/vol66/num05/toc.aspx 
The authors can be reached at [log in to unmask] and [log in to unmask]

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