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High Reliability Schools Level 2

Level 2: Effective Teaching in Every Classroom

Norwalk Community Schools is committed to utilizing the High Reliability Schools framework to focus instructional improvement efforts. Our work to ensure highly effective instruction in all classrooms is guided by the indicators below.

Leading Indicator 2.1: The school communicates a clear vision as to how teachers should address instruction.

Norwalk Community School District utilizes the Marzano instructional framework that is designed to create a common language for teacher and student achievement. The framework is organized into four domains and twenty three elements to define teacher actions and to focus professional development offerings.  This framework is aligned with the Iowa Teaching Standards that support teachings in their professional growth.  

Iowa Teaching Standards

  1. Demonstrates ability to enhance academic performance and support for implementation of the school district’s student achievement goals.
  2. Demonstrates competence in content knowledge appropriate to the teaching position.
  3. Demonstrates competence in planning and preparing for instruction.
  4. Uses strategies to deliver instruction that meets the multiple learning needs of students.
  5. Uses a variety of methods to monitor student learning.
  6. Demonstrates competence in classroom management.
  7. Engages in professional growth.
  8. Fulfills professional responsibilities established by the school district.
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Leading Indicator 2.2: The school supports teachers to continually enhance their pedagogical skills through reflection and professional growth plans.

Educator learning and growth are a priority for Norwalk Community School District.  As per Iowa Administrative Code, all teachers are required to develop a professional growth plan each year and reflect on their learning impact as it relates to student learning.  Teachers create a growth plan that is monitored throughout the year.  

Leading Indicator 2.3: The school is aware of and monitors predominant instructional practices.

Classroom walkthroughs are a tool to observe teaching as it occurs in a learning environment. Classroom walkthrough data is collected and utilized to identify the predominant instructions practices in classrooms.  Classroom walkthroughs are usually performed by administrators, teachers, or other educational experts. The point of classroom walkthroughs and observation is to analyze teacher performance and give them actionable feedback on their techniques. In that sense, classroom observations and walkthroughs are often part of teacher evaluations.

Classroom walkthroughs can be informal or more formal. They can also use several different observational models that focus on different aspects of teacher instruction and student performance. Most of the time, school districts and individual schools will have some kind of set guidelines for performing classroom walkthroughs, whether in a formal or informal context. The key purpose of classroom walkthroughs is for data analytics that can help improve the teaching process.

Leading Indicator 2.4:  The school provides teachers with clear, ongoing evaluations of their pedagogical strengths and weaknesses that are based on multiple sources of data and are consistent with student achievement data.

Norwalk Community School District has adopted the Marzano’s Focused Teacher Evaluation Model that is built into a framework for standards-based classrooms to establish:

  • A rigorous standards-based system in every classroom
  • A relentless focus on student results with leading indicators
  • An Instructional Framework with a pathway to scaffold instruction from foundational to complex tasks
  • Teachers empowered with access to the tools and resources within a continuum for growing their practice

The Marzano Focused Teacher Evaluation model is a competency-based professional growth model.  A competency-based model is defined as a model of instruction or evaluation that measures learning rather than time. In this evaluation model, teachers progress by demonstrating proficiency (mastery of knowledge and skills.) A competency can be defined, measured, documented, and credentialed.  Based on objective metrics aligned to specific standards-based strategies, this system creates reliability for observers and simplifies the evaluation process. This behavioral approach emphasizes observable elements with specific evidence of effectiveness to determine scores and construct feedback, as opposed to constructivist approaches that determine evaluation scores based on lesson scripting and employing a much larger number of elements. (Learning Sciences International, 2017). 

Leading Indicator 2.5:  The school provides teachers with job-embedded professional learning that is directly related to their instructional growth goals. 

Instructional coaches are available to all teachers to support personalized professional learning in their classrooms.  With a focus on student learning, coaches work collaboratively with teachers in coaching cycles to address learning needs of the students and what instructional strategies may best support this learning.  Coaches are developing an instructional playbook with the strategies that are predominantly observed.  An instructional playbook consists of:

  • The Strategy List–a condensed list of high impact teaching strategies
  • One Pagers— one page descriptions of each strategy
  • Checklists— to help facilitate the teaching practices contained in the playbook

The plays in the playbook will work for any subject or content area. As you work in a coaching cycle with an instructional coach she may suggest that you look at this resource together to choose strategies that will help your students meet the learning goals you have set for them.

Leading Indicator 2.6:  Teachers have opportunities to observe and discuss effective teaching. 

Norwalk Community Schools believes that all teachers can improve instruction through peer observations.  Learning walks are a practice in each building where teachers have a minimum of two opportunities each year to participate in learning walks. These walks are facilitated by the instructional coaches and provide teachers with opportunities to observe and discuss effective teaching. The focus of the walk is determined by each teacher as they consider the following three questions while on the walk:

  • What do I see and hear that aligns with what I do in my own classroom?
  • What do I see and hear that I want to know more about?
  • What do I want to try in my own classroom immediately?

Teachers spend 10-15 minutes in the classroom observing the teacher and the strategies that are being used. After the observation, teachers think about the three questions and reflect individually before the coach leads a reflective conversation with the group. Before finishing the learning walk, teachers discuss and commit to something they plan to try in their own classrooms that was learned on the walk. The instructional coach provides feedback to the host teacher by providing a summary of the conversation that was had by the participants.

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