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.
In the wake of the widespread civil unrest after the killing of George Floyd, the national conversation about the inequities in the educational opportunities provided white students and students of color has been amplified. Due to racial and socioeconomic segregation, Black students, and other students of color, are more likely to attend poorly funded schools. EdBuild, a non-profit focused on fair and equitable school funding, reports that high poverty school districts that predominantly enroll children of color receive on average, $1,600 less per student than the national average. By their calculations, there is a $23,000,000,000 gap between funding for schools that primarily serve high poverty Black students and those that predominantly serve white students. Schools that predominantly serve high poverty white students, only receive $1440 less per student (EdBuild, 2019).
I recognize and admit to having a chip on my shoulder about the field of early childhood education - and, at times, disbelief that others may not see that period of time as the power-packed years in our developmental timeline which can lay the groundwork and set the course for much of the rest of our lives.
Since the coronavirus has disrupted many of our in-person plans, you might be trying to figure out how you can transition in-person coaching to online coaching. Online coaching can open a number of doors for coaches and teachers that might not be an option in face-to-face work.