We are well over a month into this new school year and hopefully things are starting to run like clockwork. You know much intentional effort is required to get your class running smoothly, but throughout these last few weeks, did you take the time to document?
The new teacher appraisal system, T-TESS, includes four domains: Planning, Instruction, Learning Environment, and Professional Practices and Responsibilities. The Learning Environment domain covers classroom culture, behavior management, routines, procedures and environment. These topics have probably been a main focus of the first weeks of school. The T-TESS Teacher Handbook states that this domain “specifically addresses ‘how’ the learning environment is structured both physically and culturally so that it is conducive to teaching and learning.”
If one of your goals for this year fell within this domain, work toward reaching that goal should be documented. But how do you document that? The handbook explains that evidence can be gathered during walk-throughs, but also suggests classroom artifacts. So, begin a T-TESS binder or digital folder, and begin to save artifacts that explain your routines and procedures. If you have created class rules together with the students, document those. Did you take a photo while you were creating the rules? Save that as well. Having the students take ownership of the classroom procedures and routines is an indicator for the Accomplished level of Classroom Environment, Routines and Procedures.
What other classroom artifacts would be useful to save? Consider any work you and the students did these first few weeks of school to develop your classroom culture. Maybe you read a picture book with a theme of respect and then listed ways in which class members will treat each other. Take a picture of that list and add it to your documentation. Did you come up with a routine for how to get supplies while working in groups? Save the routine and then take a picture of students seamlessly using the routine during work time. Any system you have put in place can be documented in writing or through an image to show that thoughtful time and work were used to create a functioning classroom environment.
Creating a place to save your evidence and beginning to save these artifacts now, when they are fresh on your mind, will save you so much time later in the year when you have to complete your T-TESS documentation.