New York as a site for insights around teacher growth

A collection of superstar teachers cannot produce the results of interdependent colleagues who share and develop professional practices together. ~ Garmston and Wellman, 2009

NYC snow dome by @debsnet https://theeduflaneuse.wordpress.com/

As I mentioned in my first post, New York is an apt place to conduct my professional learning visits – next month – which are focused around the roll out and implementation of a growth model of teacher professional learning. Our teacher growth model emerges out of the strategic vision, mission and values of the school, and uses:
– non-judgmental classroom observations
– the Danielson Framework for Teaching; and
– a Cognitive Coaching approach to professional conversations around practice, reflection and growth.

NYC has been rolling out the Common Core Learning Standards and Advance, the NYC system of teacher evaluation and improvement. 2011-13 was the preparation phase, including research such as the Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching project. 2013-14 was the enactment phase and 2014-15 is the phase for reflection and refinement.

The NYCDOE’s 2014-15 Citywide Instructional Expectations call on schools to:
1. Ensure knowledge of students and their work, and use this knowledge as the starting point for planning;
2. Integrate policy into an established, clearly articulated instructional focus; and,
3. Develop a culture of collaborative professional learning that enables school and individual development.
There is a focus on supporting schools in building coherence among their culture, structures, and instructional core and supporting them in reaching the benchmarks for school quality described in the Quality Review Rubric.

The primary NYC teacher evaluation model – Measures of Teacher Practice (MOTP) – involves each teacher:
– Assessing their own practice against the Danielson Framework for Teaching;
– Being observed multiple times by a principal or administrator;
– Reviewing evidence and artefacts which demonstrate their teaching practice; and
– Receiving feedback on these observations and evidence;
– Receiving student survey feedback.

I enjoyed Lisa Nielson’s post on using digital portfolios to ‘capture practice’ and showcase teacher effectiveness. Lisa says that putting together a portfolio on the four domains of the Danielson Framework is “an incredible opportunity to do something that is rare in the teaching profession. It provides an opportunity for teachers to release the great work they are doing from the classroom and share it with the world. It also provides a common language and method for looking at and sharing the work we do.” My hunch is that many teachers do not see the Framework as an opportunity for growth and connecting through professional conversation. Perhaps this depends on the context in and focus for which it is used?

The immediate difference I can see between the model being developed by my Australian school and the NYC Advance program is one of emphasis. Advance seems focused on evaluation, whereas our focus is on teacher growth. That is, our deliberate default position is one of focusing on self-directed growth, rather than on external evaluation or performance management, although in some situations consulting, collaborating and evaluating might be appropriate.

On their website, the Danielson Group outlines the tension between evaluation and growth: “tension between these two purposes; a system of accountability can feel like an ‘inspection’ to teachers, while one entirely focused on professional learning can result in underperforming teachers not receiving important information about their teaching.”

Charlotte Danielson talks about her framework not originally being designed as an evaluation system, although that’s how it was quickly adopted around the world. Her video on The Collaborative Observation Process explains Danielson’s focus on growth rather than inspection. For my school’s context, this was central to our approach to using the Framework. I look forward to exploring this further with Charlotte when I meet with her next week and later next month.

Certainly my school is passionate about developing the culture of professional learning and protecting the meaningfulness of a formalised reflection process for teachers. Our approach is one in which the teacher is in control of the process; they self-direct their own foci and are Cognitively Coached through their thinking about and reflection on non-inferential data, collected from their classroom practice by a teacher-coach (that is, someone without an administrative position, whose role is to observe, listen and facilitate thinking).

Do any educators have experience with how Danielson’s Framework for Teaching is being used in their schools or districts? I am very interested in successes, lessons learned and stories of schools, leaders and teachers.

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One thought on “New York as a site for insights around teacher growth

  1. Pingback: A teacher growth reconnaissance mission: takeoff | the édu flâneuse

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