Exemplary proficiency level: 3rd Grade

The conversations with students take place two months after the lesson in the video.

Support materials:
Video clip #189
Excerpt of Conversation with Evaluator
Excerpt of Conversation with Students

Overall rating & analysis

Overall rating: Two E ratings equal an overall Exemplary 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: E Strand 1: The relevance of welcoming environment messages to students.

Why E?

  • The teacher "effectively chooses messages applicable to student subgroups within the classroom and beyond." The context reveals that the teacher leads frequent discussions addressing issues of tolerance and diversity about subgroups represented in the class (e.g., women and people of color) and ones that may not be (e.g., people with diverse sexual orientations) (i.e., "With the election coming up, one of the big issues is gay marriage, particularly in Howard Dean's campaign. This has been a great springboard to discuss different sexual orientations and increase students’ tolerance and acceptance of others. We've had some great discussions about our own diversity and biases. Another time we read a book called, So You Want to Be President?, and on the back page there's a picture of all the US presidents. They are, as you know, all white and male. This sparked a great discussion about the under-representation of women and minorities in politics. Students got so into it that some even completed an extra credit assignment where they researched a woman or person of color in congress and presented to the class. I really try to get my students to see diversity as a positive thing and approach new individuals with tolerance and humility in whatever situation they encounter, even outside our classroom.").
  • The teacher "effectively conveys messages aimed at ensuring that each student is affirmed and supported for the unique individual s/he is." For example, she starts out the group activity by praising a student individually (i.e., "I would like to give a thumbs-up to a special student who has reached her goal in this nine weeks. She had several hard goals to reach. She had to read books, including chapter books, she had to earn mad math minute stickers, and she had to earn straight A's on her report card. She has accomplished all those goals so she will be invited to the goals party this nine weeks. Let's give a thumbs up to Kearnisha McDaniel."). In addition, the context reveals that the teacher responds individually to each students’ Juicy Journals with words of affirmation and support (i.e., " Another thing I've found to be really effective are students’ Juicy Journals where the children write about their fears and insecurities every day and I respond personally to them. It's a really open format that allows students to express themselves freely and it gives me insights into areas where I need to improve the welcoming environment of my classroom. It also serves as a written dialogue between each student and me where I respond to their concerns and ensure everyone in my class feels safe and affirmed.
  • The teacher "effectively chooses messages" because it is evident that all students feel the messages are important, relevant and compelling. They eagerly participate and thoughtfully support each other. In addition, they all cheer after students’ comments. There is significant student participation in generating messages and the their messages effectively align with the creation of a supportive classroom.

Rating: EStrand 2: The teacher's effectiveness at establishing and maintaining a welcoming environment.

Why E?

  • In the clip, the teacher "compellingly sets expectations for a welcoming environment" so that all students could relay the expectations and their purposes when she teaches students a lesson on making good choices. This is evidenced by her presentation to students, which is well-organized, vivid, engaging, and ultimately memorable. She engages the students by talking about all the choices that are made for them by adults, and she uses a student-friendly visual and clear decision-making model to help students understand a potentially abstract concept. The teacher also has a clear and captivating tone, volume, and poise that utilize purposeful and dramatic inflection to emphasize key ideas. Further, students’ comprehension is solid because they are effective at generating appropriate strategies to effectively respond to breaches of the welcoming environment and are later able to apply the teacher’s expectations to future conflicts as revealed by the context (e.g., "I don't talk about the way people look anymore. And I don't talk about people's families. Ms. CoTher has taught us that that hurts people.").
  • The teacher has effectively taught "students how to be leaders in sustaining a respectful, collaborative environment for all" (e.g., "She has taught us that we can work it out ourselves, so we know we don't need to run to Ms. CoTher. If we really can't work it out ourselves, we can add it to the community meeting agenda and work it out with the whole class."). Further, the contexts indicates that the teacher’s lesson on making good choices has been effective in empowering students to make better choices and to independently resolve their own conflicts. The students give multiple examples of how they now solve their own conflicts in positive ways. (e.g., "At recess and on the bus some other kids still tease sometimes. I tell them what Ms. CoTher taught us — I say, "I feel bad when I hear you say that." Or sometimes I say, "I feel furious when you say that." And "I always try to say nice things to the kids in my class. I tell them if they read really well. And I tell them if their story made me laugh and I think they are funny. I really like it when people tell me those things so I try to tell them those things.").
  • During the group "thumbs up activity" students are assuming responsibility for creating and perpetuating the welcoming environment by actively affirming their classmates.