Advanced proficiency level: High School English

Michelle teaches in an alternative school for designated high-need students (selected for truancy, drug use, behavior issues, failing grades, and/or excessive ages based on social promotion). Her students transition into her classes at various points in the year and later have opportunities to transition back to their district middle and high schools.

Support materials:

Video Clip #188

Excerpt of Conversation with Evaluator

Evaluator Conversation with Students

Overall rating & analysis

Overall rating:
Two AP ratings equal an overall AP rating.

Beginning

Advanced

Exemplary

Strand 1: The relevance of welcoming environment messages to students.

Effectively chooses a range of generic messages to support a welcoming environment (e.g., respect, tolerance, kindness and collaboration)

Effectively chooses messages applicable to student subgroups within the classroom (e.g., respect and appreciation for students? diverse academic levels, skills, learning styles, special needs, language barriers, races, classes, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and backgrounds, etc.)

Effectively chooses messages applicable to student subgroups within the classroom and beyond and ensures that each student is affirmed and supported for the unique individual s/he is

Strand 2: The teacher’s effectiveness at establishing and maintaining a welcoming environment.

Adequately sets basic expectations for a welcoming environment as necessary, and consistently and effectively responds to breaches, using them as opportunities to convey messages that support the welcoming environment

Effectively sets expectations for a welcoming environment as necessary, anticipates and prevents most breaches by proactively using a variety of methods (e.g., explicit lessons, classroom jobs, community building) that will support a welcoming environment and effectively responds to breaches when they occur

Compellingly sets expectations for a welcoming environment as necessary, effectively empowers students to become leaders in sustaining a respectful, collaborative environment for all by teaching them to affirm and support their classmates and to resolve all conflicts in peaceful and enduring ways


Analysis: Why did the teacher receive these ratings?

Rating: APStrand 1: The relevance of welcoming environment messages to students.

Why AP?

  • The teacher "effectively chooses messages applicable to student subgroups (e.g., respect and appreciation for students’ diverse academic levels, skills, learning styles, special needs, language barriers, races, classes, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and/or backgrounds, etc.)."
  • In the video, the teacher discusses the importance of sending messages to her students that counteract the stigma and low expectations of students in an alternative school, tailoring her messages to the unique needs, backgrounds, situations of the "student subgroup" she teaches to make them feel welcomed and valued in her classroom (i.e., "So often people assume that alternative school kids can't learn or are learning at a lower level. The general attitude towards our students is sit down, act right, open up the book because you can't do anything else. And that's the sort of mentality that I think will only further isolate the students who most desperately need to be reached. So I tell them every day that we're doing college level work.") Although the message is directed at the whole class, her entire class is a "subgroup" because of the alternative education setting (as revealed in the context).
  • The teacher also reports that she recognizes different cultures in her class and shares her own family and culture with her students.
  • The academic and emotional risk-taking students engage in during the teacher’s class, including sharing extremely personal poetry with their classmates, attest to the effectiveness of the teacher’s messages in making students feel safe and valued.

Why not E?

There is no evidence that the teacher "effectively chooses messages applicable to student subgroups" that are "beyond" the classroom. The only subgroups the teacher discusses addressing in the video are those represented in the classroom. In addition, there is insufficient evidence that the teacher "ensures that each student is affirmed and supported for the unique individual s/he is." Although the teacher has the strategy of a praise wall on which students may post positive comments about one another, there is no evidence that every student receives individual affirmation through this strategy.

Rating: APStrand 2: The teacher’s effectiveness at establishing and maintaining a welcoming environment.

Why AP?

  • The teacher "effectively sets expectations for a welcoming environment," as evidenced by the students’ clear understanding of what the teacher expects and why in the context (e.g., "Ms. ____? was really clear about her expectations and values from the beginning: respect, support, and collaboration. She explained that we all were going to take risks in our writing this year, including her, because that's what good writers do. And so we all needed to value the learning community and each other.")
  • The teacher "anticipates and prevents most breaches." The written interview reveals that breaches are rare in the classroom (i.e., "It's to the point now that it's very rare that they insult one another. There are almost never any gratuitous insults. I'd say that when something does occur — and again, it's really rare at this point — but when it does it's almost always about something substantive. It's not just a random insult or offensive remark.").
  • In addition, the teacher proactively uses "a variety of methods (e.g., explicit lessons, classroom jobs, community building) that will support a welcoming environment." In the video, the teacher discusses several proactive techniques she uses including community building exercises like passing around the positivity ball each morning and having students praise one another, giving students points for responding respectfully to one another, setting up a praise wall where students can post praise for their classmates, and promoting the use of language and personal poetry as a way for students to connect (i.e., "Our tough exteriors somewhat disintegrate when we see what's going on with people on the inside. And that's what we try to do every day is connect with one another through language.").
  • The teacher’s interview with the evaluator reveals that she "effectively responds to breaches when they occur" by asking students to write a letter of apology in the Strong Choices corner.

Why not E?

Although the teacher attempts to empower "students to become leaders in sustaining a respectful, collaborative environment for all" by implementing strategies that ask students to independently generate supportive messages and praise one another, the context reveals that students still rely on her to mediate conflicts and maintain the welcoming environment (i.e., "They still need me to mediate when this stuff comes up. They trust me when I intervene, and they look to me to intervene, so I'd have to say no. But I do think they're on their way to working it out independently someday.").