The nature and substance of communication in music teacher evaluation
Harris, Sheila J.
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The purpose of this study was to deconstruct the communication that occurs in the post-observation conference in music teacher evaluation. If music teachers and evaluators are to communicate effectively, demonstrate and assess various dimensions of music teaching, accurately judge the professional qualities and pedagogical actions of music teachers, and apply such judgements in measuring music teacher effectiveness, then the beliefs, thoughts, words, actions, habits, and values of those music teachers and evaluators must be appropriately and deeply understood. This study utilized aspects of ethnography and critical discourse analysis in examining the dialogue between sets of ensemble directors and their evaluators in the context of music teacher evaluation. The primary theoretical foundation of this study flows from James Paul Gee’s writings on the theory and practice of discourse analysis. Thus, I examined the attributes of discourse among evaluators and music teacher dyads and the means by which significance, social goods, and relationships shaped the music teacher evaluation process. The results indicated the language-in-use during the post-observation conferences in the music teacher evaluation process shaped the nature and quality of communication between music teachers and their evaluators. Music teachers and evaluators used language to indicate significance through repetition of and/or direct statements of importance. The results did not indicate any discrepancies on the situated meanings of terms associated with interpretation of the rubric when applied to the band rehearsal. Social goods, such as growth in band enrollment, teacher rating, and pay, were exchanged within the verbal and written discourse, or implied within the communication process itself. Relationships were more difficult to detect through the verbal language of the evaluative conferences. However, nonverbal clues during post-observation conferences offered insight into the type of relationship that had been built or was in place, and it was noted that the nonverbal language, such as eye contact and posture, reflected the quality of communication in these music teacher evaluation conferences. The importance of this study rests within the context of understanding the role of communication in music teacher evaluations