Marzano, R. J. (2010). Developing Expert Teachers. In R. J. Marzano (Ed.), On Excellence in Teaching. (10th ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

For some reason, as I started reading this chapter, I was reminded of a story Rafe Esquith tells (Esquith, 2008).

Mr. Clever is a friend of mine at the Jungle who once infuriated the administration and has never been forgiven. At a mathematics staff development session, the speaker announced that our goal for the year was to have every child in the school raise his math score above the median. Mr. Clever pointed out that it’s mathematically impossible for everyone to be above the median—by definition, half of the school will be above and half below. For challenging authority in front of others, Mr. Clever, a very good teacher whose kids learn a lot, is held in disfavor by management.

In other words, if you try to push all teachers into the 98th percentile of effectiveness, you’ve basically achieved the impossible, for there will always be a 98th percentile on the effectiveness scale.  At least, that was my impression when seeing this chart (Marzano, 2010)


Marzano (2010) claims that “ the inference from table 1 is clear: if the skill of teachers in a building or district could be raised dramatically, student achievement would be expected to increase dramatically.”  While I am  not arguing with his general point, I am taking issue with the adverbs “dramatically” and “dramatically”.  What I see is barely a 8-10-9 point percentile gains for students corresponding to  20-20-10 percentile jumps in teacher effectiveness.   I’m also worried that the last 8 percentile jump for teachers has to be subject to the law of diminishing returns.  So in the end for a 40 percentile jump in teacher effectiveness you are only seeing a 18 percentile jump in student percentile.

Undeterred by this statistical weirdness, I will grant Marzano’s point, namely that teacher effectiveness is a most powerful lever on student achievement.  How to quantify that in teachers and then how to measure the resultant impact to students is clearly something that researchers argue about, which was a major topic covered in our last reflective reading, (Good, 2010).

What struck me most about this chapter, was that Marzano breaks down all of effective teaching into 9 segments, gives us a sample rubric on how to score our skills in one of those segments, and then tells us to get to work improving our scores!  I should state here that the 9 segments in this chapter are really full-length chapters in another book by Marzano (2007).  I reproduce the table of contents of Marzano (2007) in an appendix below.

I wanted to take a look at each segment in turn, give myself a grade using the rubric (which is purely a guess at this point) and then brainstorm ways that I might improve on that by sharing it with my mentor teacher at the start of the internship.  Who knows?  This may become a tool we use throughout the coming year.


My commentary

My Score (est.)

Segments Involving Routine Events

Communicating learning goals tracking student progress, and celebrating success. I feel that communicating the goals of our instructional tasks is essential for keeping students of all abilities engaged, and the only way to be really transparent about progress towards proficiency, or lack thereof.   
Establishing or maintaining classroom rules and procedures Keeping the classroom running smoothly so that maximum time can be devoted to instruction is key.  The way to to do that is with clear rules and established procedures.  

Segments Involving Content

Introducing new content This is THE central art to the craft of teaching.  Making content come alive, in differentiated ways to students with different learning styles will be the daily and constant challenge. 1.0 (see rubric below)
Practicing and deepening knowledge Once new content is introduced this step of “walking around in the topic” is essential.  I agree, and think this is not done enough.  
Generating and testing hypothesis (applying knowledge) I love the concept of getting students to apply and extend their knowledge.  I think this is done best by harnessing interests the students already have.  

Segments Involving Real-Time Issues

Increasing Student Engagement The chapter in Marzano (2007) describes this extensively, and the most common tool used, games in the classroom.  
Recognizing and Acknowledging Adherence and Lack of Adherence to Classroom Rules and Procedures This is the discipline side of calssroom management, providing positive and negative reinforcement for behaviors.  I lean toward a more disciplinarian approach, and know that expectations for behavior must be set early and reinforced often.  
Establishing and Maintaining Effective Relationships with Students Lest we forget that relationships and connection between teacher and student are critical for good knowledge transfer.  This is an essential segment.  
Communicating High Expectations for Every Student “There are high standards to aspire to, you can improve and make progress, I am here to help.”  This will be my mantra as I intern in high needs schools.  

In the final portion of the chapter Marzano (2010) discusses the framework necessary to help teachers make steady progress towards mastering their grasp of the 9 segments.  In particular, deliberately practicing on clear and focused tasks with clear criteria for success will provide motivation for becoming an expert in the nine segments.  Bring it on!


Esquith, R. (2008). There Are No Shortcuts. Anchor. Kindle Edition.

Good, T.L. (2010). Forty Years of Research on Teaching 1968-2008: What Do We Know Now That We Didn’t Know Then?  In R. J. Marzano (Ed.), On Excellence in Teaching. (10th ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching: A comprehensive framework for effective instruction. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).

Marzano, R. J. (2008). Getting serious about school reform. Bloomington, IN: Marzano Research Laboratory.

Marzano, R. J. (2010). Developing Expert Teachers. In R. J. Marzano (Ed.), On Excellence in Teaching. (10th ed.). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.


Appendix 1:  Marzano’s Rubric Against the New Content Segment




Appendix 2:  Table of Contents of Marzano (2007).


NOTE:  another question in my mind is how Chapter 10 of Marzano (2007) did *not* make it into the 9 segments of effective teaching in this chapter Marzano (2010).

Appendix 3:  Rubric Design from Marzano

and lots of other free resources that greatly distracted from the completion of this blog post…

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  • katytrapp  On July 28, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    John, I love your approach to looking at this graph. Being a music teacher I did not even see those things. I think the general point that I got out of it was that the more that I keep increasing my knowledge of my subject area the more I will have to pass on to my students.
    Thank you for the different perspective!

  • halgera  On September 5, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    You may find it helpful to remember the 9 lesson segments as unique elements to focus on for your own professional development as a teacher. You have already come across a number of other Marzano resources to support you in this task (great!).

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