Classroom Observations — and the Observers
Types of observations
Formal observations are opportunities for
Every teacher receives two formal observations during the school year, one by December 1 and the second by April 1. (For 2013–14, because December 1 falls on a weekend, the first formal observation must occur by December 2.) All formal observations include a scheduled pre-observation conference where the content of the lesson to be observed is discussed and the date, time and duration of the observation are established. It is recommended that the observation last for at least 30 minutes. Observers also must schedule a post-observation conference within 10 days of the observation, to review the evidence collected during the observation and provide the teacher with concrete, actionable feedback on her or his professional practices. Finally, observers must ensure that data from the observation are recorded in the Online Performance Management System (OPMS), also within 10 days of the observation.
Informal observations are brief, focused and designed to provide a “temperature check” on teacher growth. Informal observations may range from general “walk-throughs” to extended observations around an identified area.
Like formal observations, informal observations should serve a developmental purpose. They should be conducted regularly throughout the year, but do not require advanced scheduling. As with formal observations, observers should provide teachers with feedback and coaching based on the Instructional Framework and evidence collected during the observation. All informal observers should have knowledge of and be able to provide feedback based on the Instructional Framework. Data from informal observations are not entered into OPMS or recorded as part of the Teacher Effectiveness Evaluation.
Taken together, formal and informal observations should be used to provide ongoing, critical feedback to teachers about their professional practices throughout the year.
To conduct formal observations, observers must be both qualified and certified.
City Schools recommends that, whenever possible, teachers receive their two formal observations from two different qualified, certified observers. Having observations conducted by different observers significantly increases validity and reliability of observation as a measure of effectiveness. In schools with only one observer, school leaders can consult their Executive Director and fellow school leaders for assistance with collaborative evaluations.
Note that year-end ratings of “Ineffective” must include two observations by two different qualified, certified observers. In the event that a teacher receives “Ineffective” as a mid-year evaluation rating, the school leader must secure a different observer to complete the teacher’s next formal observation.
Informal observations can be completed by a school leader, peer or colleague who has knowledge of the Instructional Framework and Rubric.
Scoring the observations
Each formal observations is scored on a 4-point scale, with 4 indicating highly effective and 1 indicating Ineffective. For purposes of the composite year-end rating, the scores for the two formal observations are averaged and then multiplied by 25 to yield a score on a 100-point scale. In the final calculation, the formal observation score accounts for 35 percent of the overall effectiveness rating.