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AC Teachers sharing during a PD session.

I’ve been hung up on an idea. I’m hoping to see how we support teacher’s professional growth at our school change. I’m driven to see them creating and maintaining a professional eportfolio of their work. I see that eportfolio functioning as evidence of achieving their professional goals for evaluation and supervision, but more importantly as evidence of their professional learning and as a place to reflect and showcase their work. I see those professional goals being born of a set of competencies, or standards for teachers.

 

The Standards

There are some well known models built around Evaluation and Supervision. Our school has been wading in the Marzano waters, but we haven’t gone all in. From my point of view it’s just too big. It’s backed by research, so I may be without complete solid ground, but I think our standards need to be accessible, digestible, easily understood by teachers and admin.  Plus, all the elements within the Marzano domains seem like basic stuff. It feels more like a tool that will identify teachers that are really struggling and not necessarily a tool that will inspire and push teachers. I’m certainly open to and would love to hear arguments from advocates of the Marzano model.  Don’t be shy.

There’s another related idea that I’ve been hung up on. Shouldn’t an independent international school’s teaching standards be based on the school’s Mission and Vision? If we’re a mission driven school, isn’t that a more direct path to, and easy way to gather evidence that we are living the mission? I’m asking the question because I genuinely would like an answer. I’d like to think that this is true, but I’m not sure. It’s just as easy to use another set of standards, for example the Danielson Framework, and go through the exercise of aligning the standards to the mission, then use that alignment document as evidence of the connection when necessary.

Maybe there’s a third option which uses the mission and vision as the organizing framework, and then borrows language from the various models to build out the standards. This way you can remix and mash-up the different models into something new.

What about ISTE Standards for Teachers? Could those serve as our school’s teacher standards?  Are they too focused on technology? Don’t they really refer to 21st century teaching practices? Maybe technology is important enough to merit the focus?

What about Bloomboard and the micro-credentials concept?

What teaching standards does your school use?

The Portfolio

First, I think the portfolios should be public. Just as we see in our students, when teachers are speaking to a broader audience, they’ll have a different motivation, a different drive. They’ll have their colleagues near and far supporting their efforts, providing feedback on their work, and sharing in their successes. They’ll be contributing to the larger, global conversation around our profession. They’ll also be creating a web presence that recruiters will be happy to see when they move on to their next international school.

Going public may be a difficult hurtle for some of our teachers. Perhaps we can ease them into this by making the first year optionally private.  Does your school ask you to keep a professional portfolio? Should it be public? Maybe knowing more about what will go in there will help you answer that.

I think the  portfolio should contain the following elements:

  • Professional Learning Goals
    • Based off the identified Teacher Standards
    • Made in consultation with the teacher’s supervisor/mentor. AKA principal.
  • Examples of work that meet a standard or standards
    • Unit/Lesson plan
    • Resources created
    • Examples of student work
    • Data from important assessments
  • Reflections on the example work
    • Critical examinations of the outcomes
    • Analysis of data and proposed next steps
    • Feelings of contentment or frustration
  • Requests for feedback
  • Classroom observations made by principals and associate principals, coaches, and peers.

What else should go in there? Is this too much?

Setting Goals for Growth

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Teachers Skype with Suzie Boss on PBL. Could this be the kind of thing a learning cohort does?

Once teachers have set goals, having them public means they’ll easily be able to see their colleagues goals. This way they can find other teachers that are working towards the same goals and form learning cohorts. Maybe an early PD session to  facilitate this process would be helpful. The cohorts can meet as often as they like, but it would be important that admin provides some time to meet during regular PD and/or faculty meeting time.  They can even make use of Facebook Groups or Google Plus Communities to meet asynchronously and share resources.

 

 

Teachers would also need regular opportunities to check in on their progress towards their goals. Perhaps these check-ins don’t have to always be with principals. They can also be with our instructional coaches, or maybe even a peer coach.

Resources

If we’re asking teachers to show they meet these standards, then we should be willing to provide them resources to do it. These are some of the resources I see us being able to provide.

  • Access to our instructional coaches – probably the most valuable and effective.
  • Time to spend with their learning cohort – also key
  • A curated list of on-demand online PD.  – thoroughly vetted by principals and instructional coaches
  • Opportunities for peer observation, especially with teachers identified as proficient in some of the standards.
  • Off site professional development opportunities like conferences and courses
  • On-site professional development through consultants and even in-house providers like teachers

What happens if teachers don’t meet the standard or keep the portfolio? What consequences should they face? Or better yet, how do we provide incentive for those that do?

So, what does this sound like to you? Too big? Too much to expect of teachers? Not enough?What’s missing? What does professional learning look like at your school?

 

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