Cognia announced the release of its dynamic new Teacher Observation Tool that enables teachers to review their instructional practice across five dimensions of instruction—from creating a positive classroom culture and promoting student agency to teaching higher-order thinking and building relationships with students.

The tool can be used in all grades and classrooms, and in remote, hybrid, and synchronous learning environments. “We designed Cognia’s Teacher Observation Tool to help teachers focus directly on the learner and to stimulate dialogue among teachers and administrators about key aspects of teaching that promote improvement,” says Dr. Mark A. Elgart, president and CEO of Cognia. “The Teacher Observation Tool ensures that teachers can get immediate quality feedback that results in better practice.”

“The Teacher Observation Tool helps teachers learn through peer-to-peer observations and engage in reflective dialogue that comes from collaboration—where teachers work and learn together in a non-evaluative context,” says Dr. Vicki Denmark, chief architect of Cognia’s Innovation Lab, the ideation, data analysis, and solutions concept development arm of Cognia, which designed the tool.

A 360-degree view of teaching environment

When used in concert with Cognia’s Effective Learning Environments Observation Tool® (eleot® 2.0), the new Teacher Observation Tool allows educators to get a 360-degree view of teaching and learning in the classroom. The eleot provides a clear picture of student actions to indicate how well students are engaged in the classroom; the Teacher Observation Tool rounds out the picture by providing a nuanced portrait of what teachers do to provide effective and engaging instruction. At the district level, reports and data analytics can shape the focus of professional learning to address common challenges, paying attention to nuances for K-5, middle, and high schools.

Tool offers view of teaching across 23 indicators within 20 minutes

The tool enables administrators to gather information about teachers’ demonstration of specific research-based instructional practices and competencies across five dimensions of teaching, including:

  • Culture and climate—creating a positive environment that embraces each learner, creates enthusiasm for learning, and treats students equitably.
  • Learning—promoting clear expectations about the content and activity, implements lessons or activities that promote higher-order thinking skills, and delivers sessions that are relatable to students and aligned with their interests.
  • Agency—helping students develop a sense of self and demonstrate self-responsibility, efficacy, and determination.
  • Essentials—demonstrating core competencies of teacher effectiveness (including presence and disposition, pedagogical and content knowledge, and management of the learning environment), fulfill the needs of—and provide supports to—individual learners, and actively engage learners.
  • Relationships—building healthy relationships with and among students to foster growth.

The formative tool guides observers to identify performance across three key factors—implementation of practices, how embedded the practices are in the classroom, and the effect on learners. Information is categorized on a four-point scale.

The Teacher Observation Tool is the newest resource Cognia provides to create an interactive educator learning community within buildings, across districts and states, and around the globe.

Pilot test and implementation

Cognia conducted a pilot and field tested the tool with educators in Georgia, Kentucky, and Alabama in remote, hybrid and synchronous classroom settings. Besides providing information that helped further improve the tool, the result of the pilot test and user experiences and focus groups revealed that:

  • Educators can gain a comprehensive view of their teaching practice.
  • Even the most experienced teachers gained abundant evidence from their own and peer teacher observations, which made the tool meaningful and encouraged them to reflect on what they do in the classroom.
  • The most frequent dimensions requiring teacher improvement were in fostering student agency and relationships.
  • A rubric provides guidance and is used to determine the extent to which teacher actions are observed in practice using the four-point scale in each dimension.
  • According to teachers, the tool was sensitive to the flow of their lessons and the diversity of teaching practice.
  • The tool proved to be flexible enough to recognize that there are different ways to ensure that learning is student centered, and administrators noted that the tool honored their work and is intuitive.
  • The tool is free from bias and sensitivity and is appropriate for use in various contexts. i.e., across different content, grade levels, and instructional delivery models.

The Teacher Observation Tool is available online to institutions that have chosen the Enhanced or Premium level of Cognia membership.

About Cognia

Cognia is a global, nonprofit improvement organization dedicated to helping institutions and other education providers grow learners, teachers, and leaders. Cognia offers accreditation and certification, assessment, and professional services within a framework of continuous improvement. Serving 36,000 public and private institutions from early learning through high school in more than 90 countries, Cognia brings a global perspective to advancing teaching and learning.