Schools That Can Newark held its second roundtable of the 2012-2013 year on Wednesday, November 28 at St. Benedict’s Preparatory. The theme centered on strategies for teacher observation and feedback, a key topic for all of our schools.

Eight district, charter, independent, and faith-based schools were represented along with the Newark Trust for Education.

After updates from Newark Trust on Net Navigator, their philanthropic data tool, we turned to a webcast presentation on BloomBoard, which is used by Great Oaks Charter School. BloomBoard is a free online platform for school leaders to track teacher observations and evaluations, with an accompanying marketplace of professional development resources. School leaders were impressed by the customized nature of the tool which allowed for easy adaptation to each school setting.

From discussing tools for teacher observations, we turned to the role of observations in teacher development more broadly. Leaders from St. Benedict’s discussed their portfolio of faculty development practices, including peer observations, formal evaluations, and a monthly faculty-led seminar series. Other school leaders shared their own experiences for questions ranging from developing a clear picture for effective teaching from a variety of teachers, to establishing trust while giving feedback and to building time for consistent observations and feedback. School leaders left with both tangible tools and valuable reflections on their practices.