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A Faculty Rubric

February 15, 2014

Hadley Roach ’07 shared a teacher evaluation rubric from North Star Academy in Newark, NJ, where she teaches. One of the categories is “Checking for Understanding and Responsiveness to Daily Student Learning.” The highest qualities (“Advanced”) for a teacher in this area of teaching are the following:

  • Adeptly, efficiently and frequently uses a variety of checking for understanding techniques to constantly monitor student learning;
  • Frequently and consistently uses higher order thinking questions to push student thinking;
  • Unrelentingly focuses on student mastery of specific objectives.

Teachers at North Star who daily attain the “Advanced” level have developed a classroom culture where “95 – 100% of the students are engaged in the learning activity, and 85 – 90% of student hands are raised or students are ready to answer immediately when cold called.”

The questions and ideas that I’m thinking about from this challenging and worthy rubric, are:

1.) How can we check daily – in each class – for student engagement, knowledge, learning? How can we make sure that in each class we teach, 95-100% of our students are engaged, not just there, but learning, talking, questioning, re-thinking, doing, actively listening, ready to answer if called upon?

2.) Next, how can we assess if they are that engaged? How can we foster that immediate and continuing engagement over a class period?

  • quizzes, oral and written: former math teacher Gail LeBlanc began every class with an oral quiz, so that within five minutes she had everyone talking, thinking, doing math.
  • significant questions, follow-up questions, and the willingness to cold-call on any student.
  • small group work, class discussion.
  • frequent public demonstration of learning and thinking – what Eric Finch does in his classes, with white boards and student teaching of problems.

  • asking for feedback at the end of class or the end of the week, as Nate Crimmins has done all year in his RS 4 class.  He then collates these responses over the weekend, and begins class on Monday with a clear sense of what the students have learned, yet what is still uncertain.  He also helps the students become more reflective and aware of their own learning.

Ultimately, we want to take full advantage of every class we have with our students; this is another urgency to our teaching, in that we want to engage every single student every single day.

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