Why teacher observation should be about growth, not "gotcha"

Teacher Observation and Growth

It’s safe to say most teachers (and school leaders for that matter) don’t look forward to observations, and for good reason. Observations are stressful—teachers often worry about being critiqued and feel the process is unnerving, unfair, and worse, unhelpful. But the point of observations shouldn’t be to intimidate or criticize teachers. And they certainly shouldn’t be a waste of time.

Observations should be about growth, not “gotcha,” and here’s why:

  • According to The Irreplaceables, a recent study by The New Teacher Project (TNTP), as many as 74% of high-performing teachers leave their positions as a result of feeling unsupported or unrecognized for their skills and effort.
  • Researchers with the Measures of Effective Teaching Project have concluded that teaching and learning will not improve if teachers are not provided with high-quality feedback based on equitable and authentic observations.
  • In summarizing several current studies, researchers at the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings have determined that better teachers have significant impacts on not just students’ end-of-year assessments, but on their chances of attending college and even earning potentials as adults.

Students need great teachers—and schools need to leverage their resources and observation systems in support of great teachers.

Want some best practices for coaching your teachers? Download Coaching for Change: A Practical Guide to Instructional Coaching, a comprehensive, 99-page guide, for instructional coaches and leaders.

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