Saturday, May 21, 2011

Professional Resource Audit

There has been much concern around the teacher evaluations that are associated with Race to the Top implementations nationwide. Specifically here in New York State, 60% of a teacher’s evaluation is tied to teaching standards that include the following:

  • Knowledge of Students and Student Learning
  • Knowledge of Content and Instructional Planning
  • Instructional Practice
  • Learning Environment
  • Assessment for Student Learning
  • Professional Responsibilities and Collaboration
  • Professional Growth
In other states, those teaching standards may be aligned with Charlotte Danielson’s Frameworks or the INTASC standards. Those of you that are familiar with Danielson and INTASC will recognize immediately how the NY State standards align.

In looking at what New York is requiring of it’s teachers, I thought it would be a good time to look at your specific in-district resources, and align them to whatever your state teaching standards (or your district teaching standards) are.

Conversations with teachers this last week (thanks teachers in Wilson, NY!) led me to think about connecting the resources we have: professional libraries, video/DVD resources, online resources, and local PD opportunities to our teaching standards. Teachers, schools, and districts need to be proactive about areas of improvement for all.

Many teachers are feeling “under the magnifying glass” lately, and many are worried about summative evaluations, test scores, and their “one observation” a year to determine whether or not they are a good teacher. Why wait? Engage now.

For New York State Teachers, resources for Knowledge of Students and Student Learning could include resources from Chip Wood’s Yardsticks or Harry Wong’s First Days of School (this one would be good for learning environment too!) - books that I’ve seen in many Professional Libraries in the schools I’ve worked in.

For instructional practice, you could utilize books and videos from ASCD’s Webinar series, books by Robert Marzano, Eric Jensen, Robyn Jackson, and more.

For Learning Environments, Eric Jensen’s Environments for Learning was transformational for me in my practice.

For Instructional Planning, books by Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Janet Hale, and others that deal in curriculum, mapping, and alignment would be useful.

For Collaboration and Professional Growth, Bena Kallick and Art Costa’s Habits of Mind would be a good start.

The point is to take inventory of what you have, in print, online, and in person. I know that here in New York, local Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) provide many PD opportunities, specifically around these teaching standards. Locally, here in Western New York, the BOCES teams are providing a multitude of workshops for teachers, aligned directly to the state standards. See some of their offerings here.

Additionally, I’d like to jump back in time to a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago about building capacity in your own schools. In it, I discuss harnessing and leveraging the talent that already exists in the teachers that are teaching. There are great things happening that address every one of these teaching standards--and it’s important to find those people that engage that standard well and help them help others to improve in these areas.

With common core implementations on many teachers’ plates and the public push for more accountability, the time is right for making proactive decisions instead of waiting for end of year evaluations before improvement starts. Let’s take this bull by the horns and do at least these six things in the coming months:

  1. Identify the resources that will support the teaching standards in your schools.
  2. Identify those teachers that are exemplars of the teaching standards, and help them share their successes with colleagues.
  3. Connect individual resources (and people!) to specific standards, perhaps as a menu of improvement opportunities.
  4. Have discussions with faculty about focusing on an area of improvement, and the evidence around the improvement happening.
  5. Commit to positive interactions and positive planning for improvement, rather than reactive moments based on a yearly observation or one shot evaluation.
  6. Dismiss ideas around “change” and start looking for “growth.”

Right now, many people view the entire buffet of coming changes as overwhelming and impossible to implement. What I’m saying here is worry about what’s on your plate right now, and what you have the power to do something about. Try to make connections between resources and professional practices and find a place to improve, to grow. You and your students benefit from your professional willingness to be a learner and leader!


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Join me for National Opportunities to discuss this and other issues related to teaching and learning at the following upcoming summer conferences:

ASCD Summer Conference in Boston
The Curriculum Mapping Institute in Saratoga Springs

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