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Teacher Evaluation: What's Fair? What's Effective?
November 8, 2012 | Volume 8 | Issue 3
Table of Contents
What Mind-Sets Drive Teacher Effectiveness?
Arthur L. Costa , Robert J. Garmston , and Diane P. Zimmerman
Education needs a fresh mental model of what constitutes high-quality teachers—not based on test scores, competencies, external criteria, or supervisory judgments. We propose that there are certain dispositions or drives that encourage growth that must be liberated and enhanced. We call them "states of mind" (Costa and Garmston, 2002). These dispositions are invisible in that they represent the internal thinking processes of the teacher and are best demonstrated by their effects.
This view of high-quality teaching requires evaluators to look beyond classroom performance to see the manifestations of effort focused around these five qualities. Like gravitational or electromagnetic fields, these states of mind cannot be observed directly; they are known from their effects. The ball falls from our hand; we label gravity as a cause. Likewise, we label invisible causes in classrooms. We celebrate teacher efficacy when the teacher inspires her students to grow and learn as a result of their hard work together. The invisible force is a growth mind-set. We contrast this with another less effective teacher who complains that the students are not well prepared because the teacher the year before did not prepare them. Although she may not say it directly to the students, it is highly likely the students will sense the frustration. This fixed mind-set blames external forces and limits the teacher's efficacy and ability to interact in proactive ways with children. (Dweck, 2006).
These dispositions direct the teacher behaviors that affect student learning. We categorize and define the five states of mind and believe them to be the generators of effective thought and action.
Five States of Mind
These states of mind create a growth mind-set that is a potent force for fostering collective excellence and influencing, motivating, and inspiring our intellectual capacities. Teachers who are highly reflective and able to think in this way ask questions that increase their capacity to respond and build on success. We suggest that when confronted with problematic situations, teachers should habitually and consciously employ these five states of mind by asking these questions:
Teaching for learning requires adaptive mind-sets, flexibility, and persistence to puzzle through the day-to-day challenges. Subsequently, we have come to believe that when focusing on teaching and learning, the dispositions of the teacher's mind are more predictive than discrete behaviors. We believe that we need to move away from the old inspector model of teacher evaluation and embrace more teacher–researcher collaborations that work together to identify critical issues and develop a more finely tuned understanding of how teacher efficacy, consciousness, and the other states of mind influence and contribute to excellence in the classroom.
We want a wiser profession, one that is not only technically accurate, but also inspired, sensitive, and proactive. We want a profession that ensures teachers will respond to the world of the ever-changing, unimagined challenges of future generations. This requires a reworking or our entire system and places a premium on creating professional arenas of reflection and growth.
Costa, A., & Garmston, R. (2002). Cognitive coaching: A foundation for renaissance schools. Norwood, Mass: Christopher Gordon Publishers.
Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine Books.
Diane Zimmerman is the former superintendent of Old Adobe Union School District in Petaluma, Calif. Arthur L. Costa is an emeritus professor of education at California State University, Sacramento. He is cofounder of the Institute for Habits of Mind and cofounder of the Center for Cognitive Coaching. Robert J. Garmston is an emeritus professor of educational administration at California State University, Sacramento and codeveloper of Cognitive Coaching.
ASCD Express, Vol. 8, No. 3. Copyright 2012 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.
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