One of the things I keep in mind when developing PD for teachers is to start at the beginning. This isn’t the beginning of the year, the Training Period Evaluation, and it’s definitely not the Annual Evaluation. It’s the first touch a teacher has with my organization.
As the hiring manager for classroom teachers, I first “meet” a teacher when reading her submission for employment. I ask:
Before a face-to-face interview, I develop a good sense of who this person is so that when we meet I can zero in on fit and begin discovering how she learns and grows.
Remember, a prospective teacher is getting her first impression of what you, as an employer and program, can offer her. Too often, we think that a candidate must sell herself to us, but this is just as much a recruitment game if we want to get the very best teachers on our staff.
A prospective teacher is looking at the types of support and growth she can expect when working for your organization. The questions you ask and discussions you foster during an interview indicate your ability to listen and promote the candidate’s growth. This is the time to set the stage for an open forum of information sharing and send the message “what you have to say is important.”
Once you’ve hired the best, you have to focus on keeping the teacher motivated and engaged. This starts on day one. New teachers often walk into a functioning classroom where peers and children are already comfortable in the routine and flow of the daily schedule. Preparing a new teacher for her entrance into a classroom is personal and must take into account her previous experience. Scaffolding the process allows a teacher to progress as she gains confidence. The ongoing support process might include some of these steps:
The purpose of this professional development support is to create an environment where teachers have the understanding and confidence to implement supportive strategies resulting in positive outcomes. As adults we take our learning styles with us throughout our lives. By taking the time to find out what teachers need and how they learn, targeted PD opportunities become an efficient method of expanding and refining a teacher’s practice over time. Teachers become more aware and in control of their learning and progress.
The CLASS measure allows us to quantify the quality of teacher-child interactions—and that is a powerful thing. But collecting observation data, alone, does nothing to impact students. Improving child outcomes takes more than just data collection; it’s what you do with the data that really matters.
Is this your program’s first year conducting CLASS observations? Do you have new teachers who have never been observed? Implementing any kind of change in an organization can be challenging, so it’s important to provide many opportunities to discuss the factors behind the change and allow your staff to engage in open-ended discussions.
Here are some conversation points to help your team feel at ease before CLASS observations begin.
Welcome to our newest blog series dedicated to the research we're reading and thinking about.
For our first post in this series, we’re looking at exclusionary disciplinary practices with new eyes as states are submitting their ESSA plans. The Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to discuss how they will help local education agencies reduce their overuse of exclusionary discipline practices. These are actions like suspensions or expulsions that send students out of classrooms. Not only do exclusionary discipline practices negatively affect school climate (something we care a lot about here at Teachstone!), evidence shows that students of color, particularly Black students, are disproportionately on the receiving end.