Professional Growth - Steve Barkley

Professional Growth

I am currently consulting to a statewide commission that is examining and then recommending professional growth requirements for teachers’ continuing certification. Here are some pieces I reviewed as I prepped for our sessions:

A blog, International Professional Development, posted by the Guardian, presents 10 recommendations for teachers, shared by education leaders.

Rachael Stevens suggests that teachers should:

Root training in real lessons –“Teachers said that the most helpful sessions they’ve had were linked to hands-on classroom practice, peer-led observations in their own school or getting out into other establishments.”

Track the success of sessions-“It takes commitment, but it’s important to track the long-term effects of continuing professional development (CPD) models in order to assess their worth. For so many years in schools professional development has been top-led and driven by initiatives that have fallen by the wayside in a short amount of time. The movement towards evidence-based practice in education can only be good. Linking professional development to practice is crucial; it needs to have direct effect on students’ and teachers’ development. It’s a big ask for CPD coordinators and school leaders, but it should be a priority.”

 Find other recommendations here.

In a blog from Learning Forward titled, The Missing Link in Teacher Evaluation,   (October 25, 2013), Hayes Mizell identifies  the problem of trying to increase teacher effectiveness only through evaluation:

“In most cases, teacher evaluation is not part of an intentional, coordinated, and comprehensive system to ensure teachers’ continuous improvement. While evaluation systems may link to teachers’ compensation or employment status, few drive new learning specifically tailored to address teachers’ performance gaps or improve their instruction.”

“Merely identifying a teacher’s weaknesses and sending her to a workshop will not suffice. Improved performance in any profession requires appropriate and sustained learning over time, coupled with heavy doses of professional support, practice, reflection, critical feedback, and correction.”

Mizell links to an article in The Learning System (Learningforward Winter 2013), Evaluations serve as pathways for professional growth: Teacher-led teams help build evaluation system that promotes learning.

Professionals take charge of their own growth and development by constantly seeking to strengthen teaching effectiveness and the quality of their teaching and that of their colleagues according to Coggshall et al.* (2012, p. 14)who define a well-designed evaluation system as:

 • Helping teachers and school leaders develop a common understanding of effective practice and performance expectations.

• Providing evidence-based feedback to teachers to help them reflect on and improve their practice.

• Measuring and accounting for teachers’ learning and collaboration.

 In my consultation with the statewide commission I facilitated a discussion around these considerations.

  • Replacing hours of professional development for recertification with a teacher growth portfolio.
  • Documenting continued professional learning should be the responsibility of the teacher (systems local/state should provide the opportunities.)
  • What counts? Any learning activity that leads to an identifiable change in teacher practice leading to a change in student experience or behavior producing a change in student outcomes.
  • Teacher portfolio recording:

Learning activity

Change in teacher practice

Change in student experience

Change in student achievement

I will report back to you as the commission recommendations are finalized.

 *Coggshall, J.G., Rasmussen, C., Colton, A., Milton, J., & Jacques, C. (2012, May).Generating teaching effectiveness. The role of job- embedded professional learning in teacher evaluation. Chicago, IL: National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality

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3 Responses to “ Professional Growth ”

  1. Diane Schumacher Says:

    I find that peer coaching works really well, but it doesn’t seem to be in fashion anymore.

    I get frustrated and deflated by evaluations that are based on four-minute “walk-throughs.” Perhaps it isn’t the duration that bothers me, but the fact that the comments are always negative. I wish teachers were given positive feedback about improved test results and innovations which improve reading and writing skills. I feel the observations are very superficial and negative. Is my experience the norm or does it mean that my administrators are not adept at evaluation?

  2. Steve Says:

    Diane…. most evaluation practices were not designed nor implemented to produce teacher growth.. Really most are a forced compliance on already busy administrators.. I like the teacher taking responsibility for continued growth… systems and leaders need to be creating the opportunities… peer coaching is a powerful cost effective option

  3. Brianna Gray Says:

    We have portfolios as part of our evaluation process, but they tend to have “one size fits all” requirements (“Show evidence of communication with parents,” “Document an evaluation of student work,” etc.). I like the idea of a portfolio that documents growth – it would be more personalised, and it could include participation in peer coaching, video reflection, or other initiatives based on the needs of the teacher. I’m interested to read the final commission recommendations!

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