It’s time to bring the magic and wonder back into teaching. It’s time to recover the missionary spirit and deep moral purpose of engaging and inspiring all our students. It’s time to put down the spreadsheets and look to each other and elsewhere for how to get beyond the present turning point so we can transform our society and our schools. Hargreaves and Shirley, 2009
Two months til take off.
How does an Australian educator end up planning her way to New York City for a week, in search of insights into teacher learning, implementing teacher growth models in school contexts and using the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching?
Because she is a lucky fellow.
I have been fortunate enough to receive a travelling fellowship from my Australian school in order to undertake an investigative series of visits to educators, school leaders, researchers and edu-experts in New York.
My meetings and visits cover one week in and around New York City. My week will be focused, as Hargreaves and Shirley suggest, on looking ‘to each other and elsewhere’ for learning and growth: my professional growth, teachers’ growth and the growth of my school’s professional learning culture.
Hargreaves and Shirley’s focus on the transformative ‘magic and wonder’ of teaching reflects my own fundamental beliefs about commitment to student learning. Our core business as teachers is enabling our students to find magic and wonder in the world around them, and empowering them to be thinkers, learners and leaders. As teachers, we should see teaching and learning as wonder-finding, wonder-generating and wonder-full.
The particular context for my upcoming professional trip is my school’s teacher growth initiative, which emerges from the widespread research-supported assertion that teacher quality is a crucial determinant in improving student achievement and learning.
Since 2012, I have been working with a diverse team of teachers at my school to design and pilot an idiosyncratic professional learning model intended to refine individual practice and capacity for self-reflection, appropriate to my school’s context. Another key aim of our model is the facilitation of a more passionate, reflective, purposeful community of professional learners in which individual teachers participate in ongoing communal activity to continuously develop the effectiveness of student learning by improving the quality of their teaching.
So, our aim has been to craft a process which is teacher-centred, teacher-directed and focused on teachers’ capacities for reflection and self-actualisation. We are using the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching and a Cognitive Coaching model of coaching as the basis of our professional learning model. The Framework for Teaching (one of a number of maps for teacher practice, chosen because of its relevance to our specific context) gives us a common language for talking about our teaching, and a targeted specificity of focus for our reflections and conversations about evidence and practice. Cognitive Coaching is helping us to focus on growth rather than judgment, with our notion of ‘coaching’ being one of mediating the thinking of the teacher, rather than providing instructional feedback.
New York is the perfect place to refine our thinking as we continue to roll out our own model. The Danielson Framework for Teaching is one of those approved by the New York State Education Department as part of its implementation of the provisions of Education Law 3012-c regarding annual professional performance reviews (APPR) of classroom teachers and building principals. The New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) has been implementing use of the Danielson Framework since June 2013, after three years of piloting and researching it in NYC schools.
During my time in New York, I am especially interested to see in what ways schools and districts have been implementing the Framework for Teaching; what might be success stories or lessons learned from their experiences so far; different approaches to school leadership in these kinds of initiatives; how data are collected and used to measure success; and any resources, references or contacts which might help my school, especially in its implementation stage, to begin in January 2015.
Can any educators out there share their experiences of current teacher growth or teacher evaluation systems?