I switched from the Danielson framework to Marzano last year because I moved school districts. After my first observation, I realized that I did not have a clear way to demonstrate celebrating student success (Criterion 1: Centering instruction on high expectations for student achievement, Component 1.2). This is a little different than Danielson’s “establish a culture of learning” and it threw me off when I did not receive my check-marked box. I’m a list person, so I like checked off boxes.
As TPEP is meant to do, I began reflecting on my practice. Sure, I would acknowledge when students were answering with insightful analysis or working through challenging material, but nothing showed my principal that day in and day out celebrating student success was part of my classroom culture. And, to be honest, it really wasn’t.
That is when I remembered my homework wall of fame I implemented years ago early in my teaching career. It mostly consisted of a large banner reading Hargrave’s Homework Hall of Fame (alliteration is big in an ELA class) and a collection of student work that went on a wall if it was deemed particularly impressive. I taught Freshmen and Sophomores at the time.
There were two problems with this display though. For the most part that wall of student work was merely the work that looked nice and clearly displayed extra effort, but was not necessarily showing a true mastery of the content. Additionally, the wall, like so many other displays, faded into the background and became part of the decor as it was in a corner of a tiny, crowded classroom. I abandoned the idea as ineffective when I moved on to teaching Juniors and Seniors.
Once I came back to the idea, I knew I needed to update the wall with the more appropriate focus being on student achievement. When reinventing this display, I understood the wall needed to reflect mastery and be something that students interacted with weekly or at least during the course of a unit. The new wall of student work has no catchy title, but it is functional.
This new wall has two purposes. If a student’s work appears on it, he or she feels pride and motivation, which is exciting to see anywhere in education. Earning a 4 (I use standards based grading) is not easy, so students know the pride is grounded in completing difficult tasks. This alone fulfills the goal of celebrating student successes, but the wall has become an important academic tool for students.
Soon after it went up, I found myself referring students to the wall when they were stuck with a writing or reading analysis concept. “Go check out her introduction” or “Read his analysis on that picture” became a commonplace suggestion. As such, the potential of displaying work grew. Students currently have an easily accessible supply of anchor assignments. Now that I know the academic impact on students not yet on the wall, I can make it even more functional. I have found being intentional with what appears on it is vital, and the content of the board needs to change so that students see more examples–and more students are celebrated during the year by earning their space on the wall.
My next TPEP observation will reflect this shift in classroom culture, but more importantly my students have seen and felt this change.
I enjoy working with teachers to pool our collective ideas and talents.To fill my teaching bucket in this way, I participate in the ESD 101 ELA Fellows, lead a community of practice for Bridge to College and enjoy working with the CorelaborateWa teachers.
I am in my twelfth year teaching; two doors down the hall, my husband is in his second year as an AgEd teacher and FFA adviser . Our two young daughters, 8 and 5, keep us crazy-- I mean busy--as we juggle 4-H, dance, basketball, t-ball and more.
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