Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Education and Evaluation – Part III – Ned Flanders Shows How to Evaluate Teachers! And How Teachers Can Evaluate Themselves!

No, not that Ed Flanders. The one we are talking about here was Ned A. Flanders, director of research at the U of Michigan, who wrote Analyzing Teacher Behavior, 1970. I haven’t seen this book, but it seems to me that Flanders started from a different place and ended with a system that is much simpler and more practical than the IOTA system.

Ned A. Flanders asked “How do students and teachers interrelate in the classroom?”

Observing classroom settings Ned identified ten categories of verbal interaction, in three divisions:

A. Teacher Talk – Indirect Influence

1. Accepts Feeling (Acceptance or clarification of students’ expressed feelings, positive or negative. E.g., “I understand how you feel about bullies, John.” or “Mary, are you saying you could never forgive a cheater?”)
2. Praises or Encourages
3. Accepts or Uses Ideas of Students
4. Asks Questions

B. Teacher Talk – Direct Influence:

5. Lectures
6. Gives Directions
7. Criticizes or Justifies Authority

C. Student Talk:

8. Student Talk – Response
9. Student Talk – Initiation
10. Silence or Confusion

A teacher can record his or her class, any three minutes of it. As the teacher listens to it, he or she can write every three seconds what is heard by number. The numbers are totaled, 20 for each minute. Count the 1-4's, the 5-7's, and the 8-9's. Divide these numbers by the total number of observations to find the percentage of the teacher’s indirect, direct, and student participation. This can be done also by an observer. The goal is to increase student talk and decrease teacher talk, while increasing the teacher’s use of indirect influence over direct influence.

Dr. Flanders said: “The single most significant moment in a classroom is that ‘split second’ immediately following something said or done by a student”

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Education and Evaluation – Part II – How INSTROTEACH Worked – How Objectives Were Written and How Teaching Activities Were Devised

I don’t know what is taught today about teaching activities and how students learn. Maybe what I am sharing is old hat or out of date, but many basic concepts seem to be missing from discussion of school problems and teacher evaluation in the media. Furthermore, I doubt if anyone in the churches takes teaching as seriously as it was by the educators I am describing from past decades. Most church school teachers reject any curriculum that requires planning. Thus many non-denominational (and often fundamentalist) curricula are sold which have teaching activities pre-prepared. I remember that many of the teachers who listened to us in Duluth genuinely thought of what they were doing as ministry (i.e., important) and they wanted to do it as well as possible.

I wrote yesterday how n the late ‘60's, church educators took IOTA, a secular Instrument for the Observation of Teacher Activities, and adapted it to become INSTROTEACH, the INSTRument for the Observation of TEaching Activites in the Church. In addition to R. Merwin Deever and Locke Bowman, Jr., Howard J. Demeke, Raymond E. Wochner were writers of materials. Earl Cunningham, William Hastings, Elizabeth Helz, Irving Hitt, Oscar J. Hussel, Harold Minor, Mary Stepan, and Ralph A. Strong were in the editorial group. Some of these were seminary profs in education. (I think that this field hardly exists today.)

The seven areas of teacher competence for university teachers and six for public school teachers became five for church teachers:
1. Director of Learning
2. Guide and Counselor
3. Mediator and Interpreter of the Christian Faith
4. Link with the Community
5. Participant in the Church’s Teaching Ministry.
These five areas encompass 120 statements of what a good teacher does. These are the activities that are evaluated.

There were 14 observation scales:
1. Use of Materials in Teaching
2. Opportunity for Student Participation
3. Attitude toward Opinion
4. Classroom Control
5. Developing the Physical Environment
6. Student-Teacher Planning
7. Teacher Preparation for Classroom Session
8. Variety in Learning Activities
9. Relation of Church Subject Matter to Life Situations
10. Student Inquiry into Subject Matter
11. Recognition of Learning Difficulties
12. Social Climate
13. Classroom Activities to Encourage Christian Action
14. Developing Student Skill in Interpretation of the Bible

For each scale there is a statement of greatest effectiveness. For “Use of Materials in Teaching” this statement was: “Makes effective use of a wide variety of well-selected materials provided by the church and by his own initiative.” Four other statements had less and less to say so that the worst teaching “Makes ineffective or no used of materials provided by the church.” The observer could choose the statement describing what she observes without having to think much about it.

The 13 interview scales bring out the following information:
15. Evaluation of Individual Student Progress
16. Awareness of Peer Relationships
17. Personal Relationships with Individual Students
18. Development of Student Self-Concept
19. Cooperation with Professional Church Staff in Counseling Problems
20. Participation in Life of the Church
21. Parent Orientation to Church Education
22. Use of Community Resources
23. Community Involvement
24. Program of Personal Study
25. Relation of Classroom Program to Overall Aims of Parish Education
26. Participation in Staff Planning
27. Responsibility for Improvement of Teaching Skill

The Teaching Skills Institute workshop went beyond the INSTROTEACH evaluation instrument. We learned how to identify concepts for a lesson, and to cluster and classify them so that we could write key statements about the subject. We learned how to write goals and objectives. Goals were understood as global and tell where you are going. Objectives are not what the teacher will do but what the student will be able to do as a result of the teaching activities. Verbs would include name, list, identify, write, explain, compare, contrast. The objective will be observable student behavior and may include the conditions under which the behaviors are performed and the expected quality of student performance such as accuracy. Tests were easy to create once we knew what we were trying to elicit from the students.

We learned to choose deductive or inductive teaching strategies and how to combine them. We chose "media" for activities, wrote lesson plans, and then learned a simpler system to self-analyze teacher-student interaction in the classroom, which I will detail tomorrow.

Let’s note thus far that these systems assume that teachers evaluate students on the basis of what they can do, and that teachers can be evaluated on the basis of what they do. This was helpful to me when my senior pastor wanted to evaluate me, not on what I did, but on whether or not I met his goals. His objective was to create a youth group of 50 members. My objectives were the things I would do to attain that. I could not guarantee the result he wanted. Job evaluation should be done on the basis of whether one accomplishes objectives that he or she has had a role in writing. Then you can talk about whether you have done your work and how well you have done it. We can go further – There have been efforts in the church to evaluate the total organization and its “mission,” but it’s easier to spread rumors and unhappiness with the pastor, based on personality conflicts. INSTROTEACH led to a simple way to evaluate pastors which I will explain in a few days.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Education and Evaluation – Part I – From IOTA to INSTROTEACH

With so much in the news about the Chicago Teachers’ strike, politicized criticism of teachers, increased testing of students, the evaluation of teachers by student test results, the decline of public schools and the quality of traditional education today, I decided that I needed to think about these things. I am not an educator per se, but I have my qualifications. I taught in the Chicago Public Schools, 1968-69. After seminary, in 1975, I attended a week long “Teaching Skills Institute” run by the National Education Teacher Project of Scottsdale AZ, also known as the Arizona Experiment. The teacher was Locke E. Bowman, Jr. I still have 3 booklets from the event: 70 Cues for Teachers, by Bowman, The role of the Teacher in the Church: 5 Areas of Competence, and The Evaluation of Teaching Effectiveness in the Church. These booklets were produced by “INSTROTEACH,” an acronym for "INSTRument for the Observation of TEaching Activities in the CHurch." A point I hope to make is that educators in the '60's did ground-breaking and good work that seems to have been lost and forgotten. Perhaps it was only cast aside as thousands of new education academics made new studies, invented new theories, and developed new programs, not necessarily better.

The next month I became an assistant pastor at a large church in Duluth MN and immersed myself in church education. I became the chair of the Christian Education Committee of the Council of Churches. My pal was Fr. Lloyd Mudrack, who oversaw the best church resource library I ever saw. We brought INSTROTEACH to Duluth and taught church teachers to teach all around town for three years. Then I went to New Jersey and found my interests in urban problems and the peace movement. Later in the ‘90's I became Associate for Professional Development for the PCUSA and oversaw some materials and programs that related to the workshop I took in ‘75. More about that later.

These three booklets I have are rare. You can find mention of them online, but only a handful of libraries possess even a single copy. Here is what I have learned in recent weeks about them, their origin, and what I was taught in 1975:

Lucien B. Kinney taught education at Stanford. With some colleagues he developed IOTA, “Instructional Observation of Teacher Activities.” This evaluation tool grew out of the publication Teacher Competence: Its Nature and Scope by the California Teachers Association. It became widely used in California, Arizona, and other parts of the west. Kinney and his cohorts listed 123 things a good teacher does. They categorized them in 7 roles:
     1. Director of Learning.
     2. Counselor and Advisor.
     3. Mediator of the Culture.
     4. Link with the Public.
     5. Member of the Faculty.
     6. Member of the Teaching Profession.
     7. Member of an Academic Discipline.
There were 28 teaching activities or scales, each of which included five levels of teacher performance. 13 scales were used in classroom observation and 15 graded by teacher responses in an interview.

R. Merwin Deever taught at Arizona State. His work with IOTA led him into a group that was concerned with teacher education in the churches. It is difficult to imagine today the great works that were undertaken in the post WWII years by the churches in the area of education. I reprint here an letter by Locke Bowman Jr. explaining this. The letter is published online by Tom Rightmyer, a priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina. Tom says “Dr. Bowman retired in 2002 as the Executive Secretary of the General Board of Examining Chaplains of the Episcopal Church and Administrator of the General Ordination Examination. I served as a staff member of the General Board and assisted in writing, administering, and evaluating student responses to the Examination from 1990 to 2002. [I think I saw a notice of Locke’s death in 2011.]

Dear Tom:
        Here is what I would say to the person who directed a query to you about  church education 1945-1950+. This was a time of great ferment in all the Protestant churches. The Continental theologies had begun to affect seriously the curricula of all the theological seminaries, so that names like Barth, Brunner (Emil), Tillich, and Niebuhr were on everyone's lips, it seemed.
        The Presbyterians were the pioneers in developing teaching materials for use in the churches that would reflect the best educational theories and also focus seriously on theology. After a famous Long Island conference of leaders in the Church, they launched the "Christian Faith and Life" curriculum, sub-titled "A Program for Church and Home." This material was hailed by the New York Times education editor as the most significant publishing venture in the "history of Christendom." Hardback books for students were produced, and magazines were published for use jointly by parents in their homes and teachers in church classrooms. The curriculum was organized in a three-year cycle: Jesus Christ, Bible, and Church. The underpinning for this approach was Karl Barth's dogmatic, focusing on "the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ; the Word revealed in Holy Scripture; and the Word proclaimed and lived in the Church." 
Educational methodology was pedagogical--a serious teacher-student encounter focused on content. The Faith and Life curriculum appeared in 1948, and it was a huge success financially. Large numbers of Episcopal congregations purchased the materials. The curriculum, continually revised, continued until 1970 when it was replaced by a new approach called "Christian Faith and Action" (now superceded by other efforts).
        The Episcopalians watched the Presbyterian developments with keen interest and began to explore the idea of a national curriculum produced in New York. A series of false starts delayed their work, but finally the General Convention directed that work should begin. By 1957, the Seabury Series had appeared. (The Seabury Press was established specifically for the purpose of publishing the curriculum.) The Series also featured student books, some of them hardbacks, and there were classroom materials for teachers and students. The theology behind the
material was primarily Tillichian. 
        Emphasis was on combining theological reflection with a focus on group process. Churches were required to engage in training before the materials could be used. A typical class group would include a teaching team and a process observer. Emphasis was placed also on combining the educational ministry with the developing "family services" in Episcopal parishes. Growing suburban congregations were special targets of this approach.
        The Seabury Series fell into disuse in the 1970s and was not replaced. Seabury Press struggled along until about 1986 when it went out of business also. This was the Episcopal Church's first and last venture into national curriculum production. In 1985 an effort began to study Christian education in the church, and a task group reported to the General Convention in 1988. No recommendations were made concerning curriculum.
        The period after World War II also brought other churches into the discussions of effective Christian education--especially the Methodists, the Lutherans, and other denominations. [Southern Baptists continued to be the largest producers and consumers of teaching materials, but they marched to their own drummer and had little to do with any ecumenical efforts.] The Roman Catholics were in the Dark Ages until after Vatican II when they came to life after the American bishops issued a paper, "To Teach As Jesus Did." That resulted in modern curricular efforts that looked much like the Presbyterian and Episcopal efforts of earlier decades.
        Regrettably, few books are extant that reflect adequately the whole ferment of the post-World War II period. I would, however, recommend that these authors be explored: Randolph Crump Miller, distinguished professor of religious education at Yale Divinity School, who wrote extensively in the 1950s. As a priest of the Church, he epitomized Episcopal thinking at the time. Another seminal book widely read and earnestly discussed was "The Church Must Teach or Die," by James Smart (first editor in chief of the Presbyterian Faith and Life venture). These two authors and their bibliographies will lead any serious student to the heart of the issues for that post-War era.
        Hoping to be helpful, I remain sincerely,
        Locke E. Bowman, Jr., Professor  of Christian Education emeritus, Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria.

My spouse and I both grew up with Christian Faith and Life, and fought to keep Christian Faith and Action when it was attacked in the ‘70's. Books by Miller and Smart had places on my bookshelves. I would like to see the Seabury Series – Tillich appeals to me more than Barth. I also welcome any additional information on this history of these developments. I still need to describe INSTROTEACH, the work of Ned A. Flanders, and the work of the old Vocations Agency of the UPCUSA.