Friday, October 31, 2008

Teacher observations

I´ve been participating in threads pertaining to teacher observations, walk-throughs, etc., and recalling previous conversations with colleagues regarding the same, and still have reservations with the notion of using checklists when observing teachers.
How much can be observed when the observer is going down a checklist containing items that are or are not being addressed in class?  

How reliable and valid can an observation be when focused items from that checklist are discussed and predetermined in the pre-observation conference?  

How reliable and valid are observations that are either scheduled or conducted at random when teachers know ahead of time the areas of teaching/learning that administrators find important?
Working together with all teachers in establishing a set of agreed-upon teaching principals should be the bases of post-observation teacher conferences.  Instead of creating a checklist, having a common educational philosophy, mission, and a set of collective commitments paves the way for teachers to chart out their own path in initiating a change in practice.

Friday, October 17, 2008

MEXTESOL: Performance Tasks

For those who are interested in the PowerPoint presentation (that I presented at MEXTESOL yesterday), it is available by clicking the link below (Scribd).  It was good to meet teachers with similar interests regarding performance tasks as an alternative form of assessment.  I am interested in hearing your successes and challenges in adapting performance tasks within your own particular teaching/learning contexts.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

CCK08: Gemeinschaft vs. Gesellschaft

This week made me think about Sergiovanni´s distinction between Gemeinschaft (community) vs. Gesellschaft (society) as ideal extremes and Rothstein-Fisch and Trumbell´s treatment of dealing with diverse classrooms through an individualism/collectivism dichotomy.  The latter, I believe, parallels more with George´s definition of connectives in that individual efforts and identity are not compromised for the sake of the group´s goals and objectives.  Rothstein-Fisch and Trumbell´s deal with how "individualistic" attributes of US culture are different than the rest of the world, seen more as a collectivist culture.  They go on to explain how teachers can account for these differences and thus take advantage of them in creating more of a dynamic and productive learning experience.  The main difference between these two perspectives is that Sergiovanni speaks to participants as a whole in shifting the paradigm while Rothstein-Fisch and Trumbell deal more with accepting and working with the dichotomy in a practical sense (less about actually trying to shift the paradigm).