Beyond Compliance

How communities of practice co-construct evaluations to promote professional learning

Many evaluation processes provide opportunities for evaluators and teachers to meet about observation results. But few go so far as to co-construct evaluations.

What are co-constructed evaluations?

Co-constructed evaluations require significant, ongoing input from teachers. How this manifests varies according to the evaluation process, but such evaluations aren’t complete without significant involvement of both teacher and evaluator.

Why are they important?

"Part of the job of being a teacher," affirms Charlotte Danielson, "is to be on a career-long quest to improve practice [while] a critically important role of any evaluation system is to promote learning." Without a process that sees teachers actively participating in their evaluations, evaluations may come across as one-sided and compliance-driven. Co-constructed evaluations, on the other hand, invite teachers in the process.

What do co-constructed evaluations look like?

Evaluations that promote professional learning share a few elements:

  • All involved need to trust the evaluation instrument as well as the evaluator’s ability to observe practice accurately and fairly.
  • Teachers should have the opportunity to assess their own practice.
  • Any evaluation process must provide ample opportunity to reflect on practice as well as the process itself.
  • Ongoing professional conversations help teachers and evaluators work together to identify strengths in practice, address growth areas, and plan.
  • Evaluation process should involve communities of practice in authentic ways.

School systems need not overhaul evaluation processes to incorporate these elements. Simply incorporating a few practices can pave the way for evaluators and teachers to co-construct evaluations.

After collecting evidence for an observation, for example, an evaluator might share that evidence with the teacher to make sure nothing important is missing, from the teacher’s point of view. Then, upon having tagged the evidence to components of a rubric, the observer can invite the teacher to do the same before having a conversation about the lesson.

"The hope with this approach," says Danielson, "is that [evaluators and teachers] can together co-construct the observation."

Video can also help inform collaborative evaluations. Teachers and evaluators view the same video, collect and tag evidence independently, and then discuss the lesson. Teachers can also use video-captured lessons for self-assessment.

Co-construct your evaluations

Teachscape’s tools are designed to facilitate co-constructed evaluations and help ensure trustworthy, accurate observations.

Charlotte Danielson has trust in Teachscape’s ability to support a co-constructed evaluation process. “This process is embedded in the Teachscape Reflect program, which is one of the reasons I really wanted to work with them.”