Northwest Regional Comprehensive Center

Printed from:







Guidelines for Observing Teacher Practice in Chicago

Teach +Plus developed these guidelines to help Chicago Public Schools (CPS) improve outcomes for urban children by ensuring that a greater proportion have access to effective, experienced teachers. The guidelines describe how to use observations and feedback in practice, including benefits and recommendations. The example is particularly well-suited for urban sites wishing to adopt, adapt, or improve on an evaluation system.

The recommendations, which represent a modification and expansion of the Danielson Framework used by CPS, include:

  • Distribute observation responsibilities among principals and other teachers or peer reviewers
  • Use classroom observation to capture accurate evidence of a teacher’s practice
  • Use post-observation reflection conferences to promote further improvement
  • Differentiate the number of classroom observations based on teachers’ years of experience and level of practice
  • Build and continually refine the infrastructure to support an effective observation, including other performance management functions such as the professional development system

Teach +Plus advised CPS to convene expert teachers within disciplines and grade levels to create specific exemplars for each component of the adopted framework. This process was intended to give CPS teachers a degree of voice in the evaluation process and build a bank of exemplars for the teacher observation process. Another aim was to help CPS retain effective teachers in urban schools by expanding leadership opportunities.

Using a robust observation process, CPS has been able to:

  • Define, describe, and capture evidence of effective teaching, creating a shared language about quality practice
  • Include pre- and post-observation conferences on the teacher’s strengths and areas for improvement
  • Outline areas of focus for coaching and self-improvement processes
  • Align with school- and district-provided professional development
  • Promote improvements in student outcomes