Recently my state has moved to a new leadership evaluation for school administrators. The new system consists of eight leadership standards for which I must provide artifacts and evidence to demonstrate my competency in each area. I am telling you this because over the past two years I have used the eWalk platform to satisfy a great majority of the requirements used to evaluate my job performance.
Each month of the school year my supervisor would visit and focus our conversation on one of the eight standards by which I was evaluated. We would have a discussion of how I approached each standard and how I should be rated for performance in each area. I realized somewhere around December that most of the artifacts and evidence that I used to demonstrate my effectiveness as a school leader were derived from the walk-through process.
Listed below are six of the eight standards by which I am measured. Below each standard is a brief synopsis of how eWalk has assisted me in gathering artifacts and evidence to demonstrate my effectiveness as a building leader.
Instructional Leadership – The leader fosters the success of all students by facilitating the development, communication, implementation, and evaluation of a shared vision of teaching and learning that leads to school improvement.
Walkthrough visits and feedback provided to teachers after the visits provide our administrative team with a means to communicate with our teachers in real-time. With this process, gone are the days of observations with long wait times for teachers to receive feedback. Once I finish a walk-through I can immediately provide feedback to the teacher before I even leave the room. I simply need to press a button on my iPad. Teachers know immediately if they are fulfilling our mission and vision of providing a quality education for all students.
School Climate – The leader promotes the success of all students by developing, advocating, and sustaining an academically rigorous, positive, and safe school climate for all stakeholders.
How do I know if each of my teachers is providing a rigorously challenging environment for students to achieve? How do I know my students are being educated in a safe and secure teaching and learning environment? I know because I am in class rooms several times a week. The walk-through process requires me to get out of my office and into class rooms. The expectation of the administration is to complete a minimum of ten walk-throughs a week. If I meet my expectation I will visit a minimum of 360 class rooms over the course of one year. Multiply that by five administrators and we will potentially visit 1800 class rooms over the course of one school year. Do you think that you might have a good understanding of your school climate if you were to visit 1800 class rooms in a year as an administrative staff?
Planning and Assessment – The leader effectively gathers, analyzes, and uses a variety of data to inform planning and decision-making consistent with established guidelines, policies, and procedures.
You may think the eWalk platform is just a tool to conduct observations. However it is so much more. I use eWalk to take pictures, record video, dialogue with teachers, compare information with other observers, build reports that focus on keys data points, organize responses and opinions of students, which is customizable to my unique set of needs. There are literally hundreds of data points that I can extrude from just a few walk-throughs.
Human Resources Management – The leader fosters effective human resources management through the selection, induction, support, and retention of quality instructional and support personnel.
I am not sure how you would evaluate personnel other than to watch them teach. I guess you could also look at lesson plans and maybe student work samples but our evaluation systems are primarily based upon teacher observations. eWalk allows for continuous observations over time among several observers so that a more cumulative pattern of performance may be established. This tool also allows for early intervention and support when challenges are small. Personally, I find it very helpful when I discover early in the school year that a teacher may be experiencing some difficulties in their teaching. Early discovery of this nature allows me time and opportunity to provide support before a minor struggle becomes a catastrophe.
Teacher/Staff Evaluation – The leader consistently and fairly evaluates school personnel in accordance with state and district guidelines and provides them with timely and constructive feedback focused on improved student learning.
This is exactly what eWalk does. The action terms consistently and fairly jump off the page for me when I read this standard. I am able to consistently gather performance data over the course of several months regarding teacher performance. The custom templates we build and use during walk-throughs have several features that allow true and honest dialogue between professional educators. Collectively the administrative staff is able to discuss teacher performance using real-time data from observations in the class room. There are no assumptions regarding the strengths and/or weaknesses of our teachers.
Communication and Community Relations – The leader fosters the success of all students by communicating and collaborating effectively with stakeholders.
Other than what I have explained in the previous standards there is one great advantage to visiting class rooms as much as we do. Actually, I would not be surprised if teachers had no idea that this benefit even exists. As with any administrator I receive numerous phone calls from parents complaining about teachers. Understandably parents listen to their student and assume that the perspective of the child is exactly what is occurring in the room. What eWalk and frequent class room visits allow me to do is speak to parents with first-hand knowledge of what is occurring in the class room. In almost every instance I can speak to a parent and explain what I observe when I enter a class room or what I know to be true about a teacher. If I do not have first-hand knowledge I can access several reports that provide me with a clear understanding of the learning environment in that room. I can even access a report that lists for me all of the comments that have been made about this teacher by observers.
In some instances parents and students have valid complaints. What I hope I can do through our walk-through process is recognize those deficiencies that actually exist and address them early in the year so that I can diminish the number of valid complaints students and parents may have. The opportunity to have honest and sincere dialogue with all stakeholders makes for a more transparent effort on the part of the school to address concerns. It has been my experience that when stakeholders feel you are sincere and willing to listen to their concerns everyone is more likely to handle the process in a more professional manner.
I have listed six of the eight standards by which I am evaluated each school year. Overwhelmingly eWalk is used to address the majority of my requirements for a positive performance evaluation. If I were not afforded the opportunity to use eWalk in the manner I do I might be required to acquire my data from several different sources resulting in a much more time consuming and difficult evaluation. Everything I need is a simple click away-organized and ready for me to use at my convenience.
If you find this information useful or if I can assist you with other educational endeavors please leave a comment or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org