While most people generally agree that teachers must be held accountable, the current system of teacher evaluations doesn’t really do that.  Scripting, although ineffective at delivering significant improvement, has been one of the most widely used tools for teacher evaluations, largely because of the common misconceptions surrounding the practice.

So what, exactly, is scripting? Scripting involves recording what is happening in a classroom, including what the teacher is doing and saying, what students are doing and saying, and the interactions between teacher and student. Below are three major problems with this practice.

Problem #1: Scripting is Inefficient
If scripting sounds tedious, it’s because it is. It’s also inefficient and not as effective as it was once thought to be. In our work with schools throughout the country, school leaders are lucky if they can get 1-2 scripted observations completed for every teacher each school year.

Problem #2: Scripting is not as objective as it claims to be
A common misconception is that scripting is objective. If an observer is writing down or typing into a computer everything that happens in a classroom, then they’re being objective, right? Wrong.
First, it would be impossible to record every interaction. Think of the number of interactions that happen in a room of 20+ students and a teacher just using nonverbal communication alone. On top of this, evaluators are people, and people sometimes see what they want to see and fail to see what they don’t want to see – it’s called confirmation bias.

Problem #3: Scripting is really just a compliance practice

Although the flaws surrounding scripting are clear, evaluators are still using it. Why? Because they have to do something to be compliant, and this is what was touted early on to meet compliance. Unfortunately, this led to a widespread missed opportunity.  Teacher observations shouldn’t just be about checking boxes to meet state and federal requirements.  It’s time for schools to progress beyond mere compliance practices (i.e., scripting) and instead focus on processes that foster teacher reflection and growth.  One such process leverages video observations over scripting, and the results are very encouraging.

Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research (through the Best Foot Forward project) examined the benefits of using video observations to help teachers accelerate their development. The many benefits video observations, like iAspire Reflect, provide over traditional scripting practices include: capturing all information from an observation, unlimited opportunities to review the observation, objective data and feedback, opportunity to observe without being physically present in the classroom, allows teachers to record themselves and choose which lessons to submit for review, increased number of coaching cycles with each teacher, and the creation of a professional development library of exemplars of instructional practice that can be shared among staff.

Are you tired of prehistoric, time-consuming teacher observation practices involving scripting? If so, you’re probably ready to learn more about teacher video observations and leap into the 21st century of teacher evaluation practices!

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