Product Review: Teachscape Reflect Live

3/15/2012 12:00:00 AM

Product: Teachscape Reflect Live (www.teachscape.com)
By MaryAnn Karre               

Teachscape Reflect Live is an observation management and reporting system with which observers can schedule classroom observations, collect and organize the observation data, and then store the data on one secure platform.                                                            

Quality and Effectiveness                         
Teachscape Reflect Live is a technology-enabled tool that streamlines the entire teacher observation process, from the time that an observation is scheduled, to the analysis and recommendation for improvement.  It can be used during scheduled and unscheduled observations, and allows the teacher and administrator to work together toward a balanced and thorough evaluation of the teacher’s strengths.    
 
All steps in the process work together to create a smooth and efficient process, integrated and recorded for future use.  An administrator first schedules an observation from any Internet-connected device and identifies focus areas that will be targeted.  The teacher is notified of the time and the required pre-observation forms or lesson artifacts that should be provided.  On the day of the visit, the administrator takes notes with any Internet-connected device, and these notes are time-stamped and saved; later, the notes can be associated with the framework components.  Teachscape Reflect Live comes pre-loaded with Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching. However, districts have the flexibility of loading any instructional rubric and pre- and post-observation forms.   Using the framework components, the administrator summarizes his evidence, then identifies the presence of specific teaching practices, and assigns an appropriate proficiency level: unsatisfactory, basic, proficient, or distinguished. Teachers have the opportunity to self-review and offer peer reviews, as well, and to review the observer’s feedback in post-observations, where recommendations for improvements would be documented.
Districts can track teaching performance and identify trends of individual teachers, and selected groups, allowing them to target professional development.   When used in conjunction with Teachscape’s other evaluation and observation products – the Framework for Teaching Proficiency System, Teachscape Reflect Video and Teachscape Walk – it creates a comprehensive set of tools that support professional development, strengthen teaching practice, and provide a for measurable, efficient, and consistent evaluations. 

Ease of Use                                                  
Although the forms are complex and the evaluation tools are quite thorough, learning materials with pictured examples and videos are built into the program, making the process simpler.  The materials take the form of a coaching program, with sections that offer an Introduction to Reflect Live, Professional Learning, and Instructional Leadership with the product. There is a handy help button in the toolbar, for step-by-step assistance, and frequent webinars are offered on the Teachscape Web site.
 
While many of the forms and components for scoring are preset, they can presumably be changed, but it is not clear how easy that process is, or whether the school and district would have to make those changes.

Ideally, the format does require that teacher materials such as lesson plans, worksheets, and samples of student work, presentations and other supporting documents be submitted in digital form, which requires some technological expertise on the part of the teacher. Reflect Live is open-content and supports any framework, Internet-based device and platform. 
 
Creative Use of Technology                     
This efficient observation management and reporting system allows schools to move from cumbersome paper forms to an online process by which they schedule classroom observations, collect and organize observation data, align evidence with a framework, and then store it on one secure platform.  This creates a unified system for data collection which can then be used for professional development and analysis of the teaching process.   Supervisors can use tablet devices, phones or laptops to collect data, which supports a more objective and structured observation.  Data can be tracked and analyzed, aligned to standards and used to track growth and support professional training.  Teachers and administrators can access and work with the data 24/7 and from any online access point, within or outside of school. 

Suitability for Use in a School Environment
Since it is Internet-based and requires no installation, Reflect Live can be used with a district’s existing hardware, and allows teachers and administrators to make use of any handheld devices that may be available. Along with the other Reflect evaluation tools, Teachscape Reflect Live is aligned to the rigorous Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching, and supports the Annual Professional Performance Appraisals that are mandated in many districts.  Further, a key component of the Race to the Top criteria is that states need “viable approaches to measure the effectiveness of teachers, provide an effectiveness rating to each individual teacher, and use those ratings to inform professional development, compensation, promotion, tenure, and dismissal.”* Reflect Live would provide Districts in RTTT States with an objective, standards-based tool with which to satisfy this requirement and provide support data. 

OVERALL RATING                          
By streamlining the observation process from planning to analysis, and by collecting all relevant materials into an easily accessible online database, Reflect Live simplifies the teacher evaluation process, and provides a rich source of data with which teachers and administrators can plan professional development and personal improvement.
 
Top features:

  • By linking scheduling, data collection, and observation tasks, Teachscape Reflect Live software enables schools and districts to improve the organization and efficiency of classroom observations, and to make all data accessible to relevant parties at any time.
  • With an increasing emphasis on performance-based teacher evaluation systems, Reflect Live provides a much-needed tool that ensures that classroom observers can conduct objective, accurate, consistent and defendable assessments of teacher practice.
  • Observation data is securely stored for measuring teaching effectiveness trends over time, or viewing aggregated results across a school or district; data and feedback can provide a strong foundation for professional development and teacher reflection.


*Race to the Top:  Accelerating College and Career Readiness in States; Teacher Effectiveness.   Achieve.org  http://www.achieve.org/files/RTTT-TeacherEffectiveness.pdf.  Accessed 2/23/12. 
 

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