Learning from others


On Tuesday morning, administrators from around Delaware City Schools went to different buildings to evaluate teachers and give them feedback from a new perspective.

The largest evaluation took place at Hayes High School as Principal Dr. Ric Stranges took a team of administrators and instructors to observe three classes and then discuss what they saw.

Stranges said the program is valuable because it allows administrators who primarily work with elementary or middle school grades to see instruction at the high school and vice versa, which allows staff at all grade levels to learn from one another.

“For us (at the high school), we see the building of curriculum (from elementary to middle school to high school) to know that what they’re doing at the elementary is continued at the high school,” Stranges said. “We’re trying to get better to help our teachers get better to help our students get better. I give feedback to those staff members from different perspectives than mine. An elementary principal or supervisor might have a different lens than I do.”

Stranges said the district does the evaluations once a quarter, and he enjoys visiting the other schools to observe and learn.

“It gives us an opportunity to see all levels,” Stranges said. “I can’t tell you how impressed I am with our elementary and middle school teachers. I’m so impressed by the instruction our young people get prior to coming to the high school.”

Conger Elementary School Principal Mary Krell was one of the observers at Hayes on Tuesday and has been participating in what the district refers to as Instructional Rounds for a few years. Krell said this year the team grew to include the district’s literacy coaches as well as teaching and learning coaches and focused on things like classroom community.

“In the past, our Instructional Rounds focused on content delivery, student interactions, and engagement within instruction,” Krell explained. “Today, our Instructional Rounds focused on the district’s PBIS initiative (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports). We looked at a rubric, which focused on building classroom community, allowing students the opportunity to have voice and choice and restorative practices.”

Krell said it was “very insightful” to observe instruction in other buildings.

“I enjoy participating in professional dialogue with my colleagues,” Krell said. “One important take-away from the observation today was the importance of building a strong classroom community. Regardless of the age of our students, building strong and positive relationships is so important within education.”

Toby West, the district’s data coordinator, said the visitors “learned how Hayes teachers are using questioning techniques that allow students to think and talk about what they’re learning with one another and their teachers” and said they observes students “being able to articulate what gaps still exist in their learning.”

“The teachers we saw today have all created classrooms that feel very safe to the students for asking questions and making mistakes,” West said. “We observed high levels of student engagement which we know will translate to higher levels of learning.”

After the event, Stranges said the program was a “great experience.”

“The elementary principals were impressed with the high level of content knowledge by the teacher but even more pleased to see the student engagement in the lessons and the high level of questioning and higher order thinking skills that the teachers expected,” Stranges said.

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903.

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