Rubrics Help Teachers Ask the Right Questions

Keely Potter
Dodson Branch School

My experience using an evaluation rubric began with my use of the Tennessee TEAM rubric. This version is the same as the TAP rubric in terms of words and structure. However, since the implementation of TAP at my school, a much deeper understanding of the rubric has been established. Our school voted for the implementation of the TAP system last year. I was hired as a co-master teacher sharing time as a English Language Arts Teacher.

When the rubric is studied through a TAP lens, more emphasis is placed on what the students are doing, saying, and thinking as a result of the instruction. To deliver a lesson is not merely enough. The rubric provides scores to evaluate the instruction and the cognitive engagement of students, which ultimately impacts the measures of student success.

This change in approach or perspective to the rubric has had a profound impact on the teachers, master teachers, mentor teachers, and administration at my school. Through our work with TAP, including our work with clusters, leadership meetings, and coaching follow-up, we are continually seeing the power that student engagement (both physical and cognitive) has on the outcome of our instruction.

The TAP rubric is the core of our work as a TAP school. Our regional master teacher consistently provides coaching and professional development on the rubric to our leadership team, as well as on-going support for my co-master teacher and me. She has deepened our understanding of what student evidence looks like on the TAP rubric. The rubric is at the center of our coaching conversations, our evaluative conversations, and our cluster work. Through TAP, the rubric has become a living, breathing document at the center of our work, and it has changed our focus from: “What am I doing as a teacher?” to “What are the students showing me about my teaching?” This is a powerful shift in perspective, and an important question for every teacher to ask.

Keely Potter is a National Board Certified Teacher with 21 years of experience. She received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education at Middle Tennessee State University (TN) and her Master of Arts degree in Reading and Language Arts at Millersville University (PA).