Refine Classroom Practice with the Thoughtful Classroom

The Comprehensive System for Assessing and Refining Classroom Practice

Thoughtful Classroom Teacher Effectiveness Framework (TCTEF) and Thoughtful Classroom Principal Effectiveness Framework (TCPEF) were both developed by Silver Strong & Associates and are:

  • Approved by the Michigan Council on Educator Effectiveness
  • Approved as a New York State Evaluation Rubric
  • Approved as a New Jersey State Evaluation Rubric
  • 100% correlated to the California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTP)

The Thoughtful Classroom Teacher Effectiveness Framework is a comprehensive system for observing, evaluating, refining and improving classroom practice.

The Framework allows for assessment according to ten dimensions of teaching, outlining a set of observable teaching indicators within each dimension, and relevant student behaviors associated with effective instruction.

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STAGES Thoughtful Classroom

Key Features of the Thoughtful Classroom Teacher Effectiveness Framework:

  • A concise, visually organized format that gives teachers and administrators a clear blueprint for good instruction
  • A manageable number of rubrics makes it easier for administrators to develop summative evaluations
  • Provides school leaders with the tools they need to observe classrooms, collect evidence, provide feedback and develop evaluations
  • Empowers teachers to identify and implement specific strategies to improve their practice
  • Based on over 35 years of instructional research and practice in more than 2,500 schools
  • Aligned with the Common Core, InTASC Standards and many states’ teaching standards


What are the components of effective teaching?

Research and experience proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that classroom instruction has far more impact on student learning than any other factor.  A student of the world’s top 25 school systems puts it this way: “The only way to improve outcomes is to improve instruction.” (Barber & Mourshed, 2007). This is why the TCTEF puts such a strong emphasis on classroom instruction—and how to enhance it.  The Framework is made up of the three components:

TC - Learning Walk.gif1. The Cornerstones of Effective Classrooms

Around the Framework are four foundational dimensions (or “cornerstones”) that have been adapted from the preeminent research on teacher effectiveness.  These are the four cornerstones:

  1. Organization, Rules & Procedures
  2. Positive Relationships
  3. Engagement & Enjoyment
  4. A Culture of Thinking & Learning

These cornerstones represent the universal elements of quality instruction, whether in a kindergarten class, AP Physics, or anywhere in between.  Without these four cornerstones in place, student learning will be compromised.

2. Instructional Design and Delivery

While there are clear, universal elements to good instruction, it is also true that good instruction tends to unfold in a series of distinct learning episodes.  By synthesizing the best research on instructional design, the Thoughtful Classroom has identified five critical episodes that increase the likelihood of deep learning.  In these five episodes, teachers work towards the distinct instructional purposes:

  1. Preparing Students for New Learning
  2. Presenting New Learning
  3. Deepening and Reinforcing Learning
  4. Applying Learning
  5. Reflecting on and Celebrating Learning

Understanding these five episodes – and their driving purpose – is critical for both the teacher and the observer.  Teachers use these episodes to design high-quality lessons and units.  For classroom observations, these five episodes immediately orient the observer within the instructional sequence, ensuring that the teachers and observers are on the same page.

3. Professional Practice

  1. A comprehensive evaluation of teacher effectiveness involves more than classroom instruction. Evaluation in this dimension is based on three “commitments”:
  • How committed is the teacher to growing and continuous learning?
  • How committed is the teacher to making meaningful contributions to the larger school community?
  • How committed is the teacher to professionalism?


Watch this brief introduction to STAGES Thoughtful Classroom:

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Also, check out our library of tutorial videosinfographics and blogs that can help to answer a lot of the basic questions.

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