When we were in Chicago in July, 2015, we caught up with Vanessa Rich, the President of the National Head Start Association and the Deputy Commissioner, Family & Support Services for the City of Chicago. I had the opportunity to ask her about how she leverages data to make decisions about professional development for teachers. Vanessa believes that in Chicago, and across Head Start, reflection is the most important link between data and improvement efforts.
Reflecting on Vanessa’s comments, I couldn’t help but connect her words with something we at Teachstone have been thinking about … A LOT: coupling observation data with individualized professional development.
Too often we see these puzzle pieces disconnected. We see lots of data collected, but no reflection on how to use that data to create meaningful, personalized PD plans for teachers. Or we see one-off workshops or conference trips that are not necessarily relevant to where a teacher needs or wants support.
But every once in a while, we see programs that have figured out this puzzle. They have tied the professional development teachers receive to data—observations, information about how a teacher likes to learn, teacher experience, etc.—and it is with those programs that we are seeing the most meaningful changes. Program leadership has taken the time to step back and reflect on what teachers need and want to grow professionally. And that has made all the difference.
At Teachstone, we talk to a lot of educators. From coast to coast and around the globe, there’s a common thread that unites them: wanting to be better for their students.
Even when things are tough in education, even in years made even more challenging by the pandemic and its effects on teaching and learning, educators are striving to be their best. That dedication to equitable, ongoing development is what inspires Teachstone’s work. To reach the day when all children are afforded excellent education and care, it’s going to take a systematic, data-driven approach, and we are enthusiastic partners in getting there.
Hey there, Teachstone community! My name is Stephanie Lewandowski, and I am the Senior Product Manager for myTeachstone. Before joining Teachstone, I built digital products for education companies, financial institutions, and government agencies. I’m passionate about delivering impactful products, particularly the tools that make the everyday work of teaching and learning a little bit easier. As a parent, and as a product manager, I know how invaluable early childhood education is, and I’m inspired by the teachers in both my personal and professional life.
Did you know that over 12 million children in the United States (and more every year!) speak a language other than English at home? While the education workforce does not exactly parallel its students’ demographics, we know that many educators are also multilingual. That’s why Teachstone has resources available in both English and Spanish. All children deserve the individualized support and care that best fosters learning - and so do their caregivers and educators.
At Teachstone, our driving vision is to ensure every child experiences life-changing teaching. This mission is why we’re making a commitment to restabilize and improve education for every child, and every educator. And, we know that bringing this commitment to life requires providing education leaders with the support they need to not only face the current challenges, but that will propel towards the future of quality and equity.