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April 2015 | Volume 72 | Number 7
Communications Skills for Leaders
Teacher evaluation conferences become more effective when we shift the focus from inspection to reflection.
Speak in such a way that others love to listen to you. Listen in such a way that others love to speak to you." As this anonymous quotation implies, both speaking and listening are essential to effective communication. It's unfortunate, then, that meaningful two-way exchanges are largely absent from teacher observation and evaluation conferences. Here are some suggestions for how school leaders can make conversations about improving professional practice more collaborative, shifting the focus from inspection to reflection.
As I work with schools across the United States, many teachers tell me that they feel the observation and evaluation process is something that is done to them. Even if an administrator has only glowing things to say about a classroom lesson, the post-observation meeting is often one-sided, sounding like this: "I thought it was great. I liked the way you grouped the students. Any questions before you sign to acknowledge you received this?" Even if the teacher wanted to talk about the lesson, this type of introduction shuts that door.
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