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The ReVIEW Team

Reduce Bias: Focus on Tasks not Teachers

3 min read

Remixed from: The New York Times’ Double Standards flickr photo by shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Surprisingly (cue sarcasm) very few evaluators self-report bias influencing their observations. People know how to respond to survey questions with the socially appropriate answer. They can't be bias because they know being bias is bad.

You are bias. I am bias. This influences our observations because it permeates every bit our existence. Instead of trying to eliminate bias let us recognize that we all bring unique perspectives and life experiences to our teaching and this  impacts our classroom.

When you recognize multiple perspectives you can begin to see beyond the teacher and recognize the practices that best improve student learning.

The existence of bias does not mean we shouldn't do everything we can to reduce it. it just means we can not eliminate it completely. In teacher observations this goes far beyond the critical goals of reducing racial, social, and cognitive bias in the classroom.

Bias Exists in  Practices of  the Classroom.

You may have a favorite method of reading instruction. You may believe that rote math learning will always do more for learning than area models. Opinions about standardized testing, charter, choice, and testing can impact a teacher's daily life and you may not share the same ideas.

Yet the biggest threat of bias in teacher observations emerge from the pre-existing relationship between the administrator and the teacher. People and our motivations do not always fit nicely in rubric boxes.

While schools must nuture a relationship of feedback and growth an evaluator must always consider the task over the teacher. This helps to reduce bias and also increases instructional capacity.

Learning from Research

Valarie Schute, in her review of the research on formative feedback, found a focus on the task rather than a learner drives growth. In other words if you focus your observation on the learning in the classroom you reduce your bias and help the teacher.

To steady your focus on learning and not the learner we recommend letting your framework for effective teaching drive your written observations.  This means putting the computer down and opening not just you ears but also your mouth and eyes

When you work with a teacher we suggest letting key lever coaching drive the conversation. Your schools chosen framework acts as a driver of the conversation. You utilize the evidence of tasks the teacher use and what you know about effective teaching to coach the teacher to new levels of growth.

If you want to learn more about how to use ReVIEW Talent Feedback system to focus your feedback on the task and not the teacher email [email protected].