We recently received an email from an observer who had just completed his K-3 recertification and had some difficulty with Teacher Sensitivity. He stated that he was uncertain how to code the indicator of Addresses Problems if the students do not appear to have difficulties. He wondered if he needed to be more attentive to minor signs of awareness and responsiveness. If you've ever wondered that yourself or have had a trainee ask you that question, read on to see our response.
Teacher Sensitivity looks at how aware and responsive teachers are to students’ moment-to-moment cues that they are having difficulty, either academically or socially. The cues could be as minor as a student not picking up a pencil to start a writing assignment (could mean that the student is unclear on the directions), or a student withdrawing from a group discussion after another student teased her for her contribution to the conversation. We have a tendency to look for really big problems—two students not getting along or a student having a meltdown because he can’t figure out how to work a math problem.
Of course, is is possible to have a 20-minute observation cycle where there aren’t any "big problems," but generally, if you watch closely, you’ll see small signs that a student is having difficulty (student pauses while reading out loud because he cannot figure out how to decode a work, another student riffling through all of the papers in his desk searching for his homework, etc.). You would pick these up under Addresses Problems in Teacher Sensitivity.
Sometimes there really are no problems or potential problems are dealt with, so effectively they are never manifested. Awareness and responsiveness will reflect the efficacy of addressing problems. This is a good example of how the indicators affect each other. They don't really stand alone, rather work in tandem to help us decide where on the scale a dimension scores.
What other questions do you have about Teacher Sensitivity? Let us know in the comment section below!
Thank you to Mary Margaret Gardiner for her contributions this post.
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