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Educator Effectiveness
Alexandra Esser
Saint Marys University of Minnesota
Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs
Portfolio Entry for Wisconsin Teacher Standard 6
EDUW Independent Study
James Sauter, Advisor
December 13, 2015

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Selected Wisconsin Teacher Standard Descriptors

Wisconsin Teacher Standard (WTS) 6: Teachers communicate well
The teacher uses effective verbal and nonverbal communication techniques as well as
instructional media and technology to foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive
interaction in the classroom.
Knowledge. The teacher understands and can use effective verbal, nonverbal, and media
communication techniques.
Dispositions. The teacher values many ways in which people seek to communicate and
encourages many modes of communication in the classroom.
Performances. The teacher knows how to use a variety of media communication tools,
including audiovisual aids and computers, to enrich learning opportunities.

Danielson Domain
Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities
Component 4c: Communicating with Families

About instructional program

About individual students

Engagement of families in instructional program

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Self-assessment of Instruction Related to WTS and Targeted Student Learning Objective(s)
This year at Regis High School I teach five different levels of German to students ranging
in age from eighth to twelfth grade. In the past, whenever concerns arose about students
performance in German class, I typically received an email from the parents and the issue was
resolved by our next communication. I identify email as my most preferred and main mode of
communication with parents, and face-to-face interaction as my most preferred and main mode
of communication with students. Since I do not use any other forms of communication with
parents and students, I have chosen to learn about a variety of media communication tools,
including audiovisual aids and computers. I hope to address the many ways in which people
seek to communicate, and more effectively incorporate verbal, nonverbal, and media
communication techniques.
Assessment of Student Performance Related to Targeted Student Learning Objective(s)
This coming March I plan to take thirteen total juniors and seniors to Germany for twelve
days. I understand from having taken students abroad in the past that there is a lot of paperwork
and communication that must happen between students, parents/guardians, and the travel
company in order for a successful trip to take place. Presently, whenever I hand out permission
forms to students that their parents/guardians must sign, I typically receive one to two permission
forms the following day, and the rest of the forms the day before or the day the forms are due.
Regarding homework assignments, I verbally communicate the students assignments in class,
and write what, if any, homework students have for the next day. Usually all students have their
homework completed for the next day, with one to three exceptions. If I assign homework over
a weekend, however, at least 25% of students usually forget to complete their assignments.


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Assessment of Learning Environment While Learning Targeted Objective(s)

Apart from email, I have two sections of the front whiteboard that I reserve for writing
students homework and upcoming tests, and for announcements regarding the German trip and
the Regis High School German Club. If students are absent, they know to look in their
appropriate late binder for any handouts, assignments, or notes they may have missed while
absent. If a students I absent and missed handouts, I record the date, name of the assignment,
and the students initials on an assignment list at the front of each section. Then, I three-holepunch the handout and put it in the binder under the corresponding German classs divider.
Assessment Conclusion and Essential Question to Guide Research
The self-assessment, assessment of student performance, and learning environment
assessment show that I actually communicate with the students through a variety of ways
including email, on the whiteboard, and with late binders. The main way I communicate with
parents is through email. Parents are very responsive to any communications I have had with
them, and all communications have gone well. The essential question that will guide this
research is How can I improve my communication between students and parents and
incorporate a new variety of communication modes?
Research Summary
A teachers most powerful skill might be his or her ability to communicate efficiently and
effectively. Once a teacher understands how to communicate, he or she can then give more
attention on what to communicate, whether it is content, announcements, or developing
interpersonal relationships.
Danielson (2007) concluded that successful teachers are proficient in four domains:
Planning and Preparation, The Classroom Environment, Instruction, and Professional


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responsibilities. In the Teacher Effectiveness workshop presented on September 21, 2015,

Catherine Anderson discussed meaningful and effective ways for teachers to integrate the
Danielson Domains into their teaching. The domain that guided this research is Domain IV:
Professional Responsibilities with particular emphasis on the subcategory Communicating with
Families. Danielson determined that within each domains subcategory, there were four scoring
levels and critical attributes. According to Andersons handout from the workshop, a Level 3
proficient teacher would have the following attributes:
1. The teacher regularly makes information about the instructional program available.
2. The teacher regularly sends home information about student progress.
3. The teacher develops activities designed to engage families successfully and
appropriately in their childrens learning.
4. Most of the teachers communications are appropriate to families cultural norms.
According to Danielson (2007), the way to move from Level 3 to Level 4 teacher is when the
students communicate the same information above to their families rather than through the
teacher. In addition, Level 4 teachers are highly sensitive to families cultural norms. A more
detailed breakdown of each of the four scoring levels can been found under Artifact C. During
the workshop, Anderson noted that for a teacher to a Level 4 distinguished teacher, the teachers
classroom must not reflect all of the Level 4 attributes all of the time, but at least some of the
time. Anderson further mentioned that teachers are still only humans, and humans cannot expect
to be perfect all of the time.
Anderson later offered a variety of new suggestions for teachers to communicate with
families and make information about the instructional program available. These included but
were not limited to adding information about the teachers program to the schools newsletter,


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updating a personal website intended for student-access, sending letters home with students
about the teachers program, and using online reminder systems such as the Remind application
or website. The Remind application and website is an online platform where teachers can create
a class, and then students and or parents enroll themselves with their cell phone numbers. Once
everyone has enrolled, the teacher can send out a mass text message from the website or
application to remind students or parents of important information. Two advantages of
Remind are that all phone numbers including the teachers remain anonymous, and
communication can only go one way (from the teacher to those enrolled). Once a student or
parent is ready to un-enroll from the class, he or she simply has to send a certain text message to
a given number, and his or her cell phone number is automatically removed from the class and
future Remind messages. An example of the desktop view of the Remind dashboard can be seen
under Artifact B.
Research Implications
My essential question for this independent study research was How can I improve my
communication between students and parents and incorporate a new variety of communication
modes? According to Danielson and Anderson, the simplest way to improve communication is
to increase the frequency of communication. Danielson suggested separating the communication
into three groups about the instructional program, about individual students, and about engaging
the families in the instructional program.
Ways to increase communication about the instructional program might be to update my
Weebly website, send more information home with students, and send important papers such as
field trip permission slips via email in addition to hard copies. To communicate to families
about individual students, it might be best to email the parents before problems may arise, and


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keep the Skyward online gradebook current. Parents and students all have remote access to
Skyward at any time, so it might be beneficial to encourage parents and students to check
Skyward once a week. Some new and effective ways to communicate about engaging the
families in the instructional program might be to use different modes of communication beyond
email, such as Remind, and post information about the German program in the Regis High
School monthly newsletter. Some people prefer to communicate over their mobile devices,
therefore the Remind application might work best for them. Other people may prefer to have
hard copies of everything they read. By incorporating both modes of communication, more
people will receive information in their most-preferred ways.
Research-based Action Plan
Action Plan Summary Outline
1. Update my Weebly website as a resource for students and parents to access.
2. Write an update for the October and February newsletters about mandatory parents
3. Create a Remind class for students and parents of students traveling to Germany and
send out important updates or reminders.
Targeted Student Learning Objective(s)
1. Standardized goal: Taken from Wisconsin Modal Academic Standards for Foreign
Languages: Communities: J.3. Communication: Students will exchange information with people
locally and around the world through avenues such as pen pals, e-mail, videos, speeches, and
2. Targeted learning objective: Students will exchange information with their families.


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Task(s) and Essential Proficiency Criteria for Targeted Learning Objective(s)

1. Task: Students and parents of students going on the German trip will sign up for
the Remind class, attend all parent meetings, and turn in all forms by given deadlines.
2. Criteria that Prove Proficiency in Meeting Targeted Learning Objective(s)
a. List of parents and students who have signed up for the Remind class
b. At least four methods of communication used to remind parents of first
parent meeting.
c. All forms are handed in by the deadlines.
Method(s) to Assess Progress of Proficiency for Targeted Learning Objective(s)
1. Parents will give feedback about how effective the newsletter and Remind
application were.
2. Teacher will count how many forms are handed in before the deadline.
Instructional Insights Related to WTS and Targeted Student Learning Objective(s)
After learning new ways to communicate with students and families, I still identify email
as my main and most-preferred mode of communication; however, I am glad I have incorporated
new modes of communication. Through this process, I learned that my colleagues are willing to
help me communicate with students and families. After I sent our secretaries information to
include on the newsletter, I learned that they are willing to help me communicate to families
about the German program. The secretaries not only included the information I requested in the
newsletter, but also added a German graphic to make the announcement visually appealing
(Artifact D). When I tried to update my Weebly site and found that the site was blocked, our
technology coordinator unblocked it from the server so students could access it at school. I


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anticipate I will slowly incorporate new modes of communication as the needs of students and
parents change.
Comparison of Student Performance Related to Targeted Student Learning Objective(s)
After implementation, I did not find much change in student performance related to
communicating with their families. The travel company we work with required students to
submit a Dear Host Family letter and two photos of themselves and their families. I verbally
reminded students in class to submit their materials, and emailed students directly with the
instructions for how to upload their information. Although eight students immediately submitted
their materials by the given deadline, five students procrastinated and did not submit their
materials until after I emailed their parents. About turning homework in on time, I did not
observe any change. I also did not make any changes to the practices for turning in homework,
so that might be an area for improvement in the future.
Comparison of Learning Environment While Learning Targeted Objective(s)
The biggest change I made in the learning environment for communication was to the
front white board in my room. Instead of leaving a section of the board for announcements or
reminders, I now have designated an entire side of the board (Artifact E). I noticed that if
students see their names largely written on the board, they are more willing to talk to me so they
can erase their name from the board. It is also easier to read the announcements and reminders
from the back of the classroom when I write them bigger, and students are more apt to read them.
I plan to keep this change, and continue using the late binders and homework section of the


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Reflection of Entire Learning Process

The essential question that guided my research was How can I improve my
communication between students and parents and incorporate a new variety of communication
modes? After I attended the workshop, researched different communication modes, and
implemented my plan, I had more options for communicating information to students and
families. Some of the methods or practices I tried gave me different ideas to implement in the
future and improve communication. The next step I would take to become a distinguished
teacher would be to have my students communicate with their families and each other rather than
the information consistently and exclusively come from me.
What Worked and Why
1. At the parent meeting, seven parents and two students successfully signed up for the
Remind application before the meeting was over. It worked to have the instruction sheet at the
meeting and show the parents and students how to sign up right away (Artifact B).
2. It worked to send information to the secretary for the October Regis newsletter as a
way to communicate to parents about the instructional program (Artifact D).
What Did Not Work and Why
1. It did not work so well to except students to communicate important trip-related
information to their families. I found it
2. It did not work so well to rely on the homework section of the whiteboard to remind
students of their homework assignments. It might be beneficial to include the homework
assignments on an electronic source so students can find out their assignments from home.


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My Next Steps
1. I would like to designate a bulletin board in my classroom for communicating German
Club and German trip announcements and reminders instead of using half of the white board. It
would be best for the German Club officers to update and decorate the bulletin board. This way,
I can address my objective for students to communicate information, rather than the information
always first going through me.
2. I would like to find an effective to way to post students homework assignments
online so they can see what their homework is each night in case they forget. I will talk to my
students and ask them whether they prefer I post their assignments to Skyward, to my Weebly
site, or on Google Classroom each night, and see if there are any changes in student


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Danielson, C. (2007) Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching. (2nd Ed.).
Alexandria, VA: ASCD. (ISBN: 978-1-4166-0517).
Why Use Remind? (2015). Retrieved from


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Artifact A
Time log for one credit independent study:



45.50 hours

Professional Development Workshop
Added information to October Newsletter
Parent meeting for German trip
Set up Remind app and sent message to parents
Worked on Weebly site
Worked on portfolio entry
Researched forms of communication
Gathered information to send to parents in email
Emailed German trip parents
Updated/organized Weebly
Worked on portfolio entry
Read Danielson text
Read Danielson text
Discussed communication means with colleague for trip
Attended staff meeting
Attended parent/teacher conferences and talked to parents
about their students progress in German
Face-to-face conference with CESA 10 worker
Discussed trip plans with colleague
Communicated with DL facilitators via email
Worked on Moodle site
Worked on Moodle site
Worked on portfolio entry
Worked on portfolio entry
Emailed parents about German trip
Worked on portfolio entry
Worked on portfolio entry
Worked on portfolio entry


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Artifact B
Directions parents received to add their phone numbers or email addresses to my Remind class
and screen shot of first message sent to parents

List of parents and

students successfully
enrolled in the Remind


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Artifact C
Here is a detailed breakdown of the scoring levels and cirtical attributes for Component 4c:
Communication with Families taken from the Teacher Effectiveness workshop given by
Catherine Anderson on September 21, 2015.


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Artifcat D
This is a page taken from the Regis High Schools October Newsletter that went home to all


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Artifact E
This is a picture of the board now reserved for all trip- and German Club-related announcements
and reminders.

German Club

German trip