Rethinking Teacher Supervision and Evaluation

How to Work Smart, Build Collaboration, and Close the Achievement Gap

by Kim Marshall

Number of pages: 288

Publisher: Jossey-Bass

BBB Library: Education

ISBN: 9780470449967

About the Author

Marshall is an independent professional development consultant working with schools and districts nationally on leadership practices.


Editorial Review

For decades, the assumption has been that if we want to improve teaching, one of the best ways is to supervise and evaluate teachers. Surely, the argument went, inspecting classroom performance and giving teachers feedback and formal evaluations would make a positive difference. But as we frequently ask groups of administrators to think back to when they were teachers and raise their hands if an evaluation ever led them to make significant improvements in the way they taught, typically we see around 5 percent of the group raise a hand. When we ask if the evaluations that principals themselves have written produce significant classroom improvements, we get a similar response. This is disturbing. It means that school leaders are spending huge amounts of time on a process that rarely improves classroom teaching. And teaching, after all, is the heart of the matter. Now we know that good classroom teaching can overcome the disadvantages with which many students enter school, and that children who grow up in poverty are not doomed to failure. From this, we conclude that a principal’s most important job is getting good teaching in every classroom. 

Book Reviews

“this book makes the case that a multi-faceted approach is necessary. Mini-observations are a definite take-away for the reader, but aren’t presented as a silver bullet. If anyone understands the true complexity of supervision, it is a former principal like Kim Marshall. I give this book 5 stars!” – Diane Sweeney Consulting

“This vital resource also includes extensive tools and advice for managing time as well as ideas for using supervision and evaluation practices to foster teacher professional development.” – Wiley

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Wisdom to Share

The basic idea of mini-observations is simple: the principal makes frequent unannounced classroom visits and gives prompt feedback to teachers, and as a result, teaching and learning improve.

The amount of time a principal needs to spend in a classroom depends entirely on the purpose of the visit.

Short classroom visits will benefit teaching and learning only if they are frequent and substantive, and that means deciding on a “Goldilocks” number of mini-observations per day.

During a classroom visit, the principal needs to slow down, breathe, walk around, observe the kids, maybe chat with a couple of them.

There are plenty of possible formats—paper and electronic—to capture information after mini-observations.

Quick service is important after mini-observations.

How can a dedicated principal work really, really hard and fail to get significant gains in student achievement?

Have a laser-like focus on student achievement and your strategic plan.

Make sure all staff know exactly what is expected in terms of classroom instruction and discipline.

Use a good personal planning system for the year, month, week, and day.