Recently our Professional Growth Model has received a great deal of attention. The Leader Telegram article last week started the process and the WEAU TV spot was another opportunity to discuss what the model could look like in Fall Creek. Most frameworks that I have seen over the last year concentrate on the product at the end of the process. If your students score at a high level you must be a great teacher, if your students score at a lower level you must be a bad teacher. There are not many frameworks that concentrate on the growth. We asked 6 teachers to come in and have real discussions about what quality teaching looks like and how we can support and quantify that growth. Our group wanted to flip the merit process. What if we concentrated on what we can control? If the key factor in student success is the impact of the teacher then we should spend more time growing teachers. The process is voluntary and teacher led. The teachers came up with the criteria for the framework. They set the standards and made themselves available for goal development and review. The conversations that we have had about quality teaching and challenging themselves professionally were wonderful as we developed the framework and the expectations. Facilitating a group who wants to move everyone forward was invigorating…absolutely one of the greatest things I have ever been associated with throughout my years in education.
Administrators have committed to a coaching model instead of a catching model. In the coaching model people can feel safe to take risks and grow professionally. In the catching model administrators are walking through hallways and classrooms reacting to what they see…and only what they see. If we coach, we can work with someone; if we catch there is only one perspective. Our framework will allow teachers to set their own goals, work with colleagues to develop Student Learning Outcomes (which will be very important when the Wisconsin DPI’s Educator Effectiveness Framework is rolled out in 2014) and take risks to better their instruction.
It is truly exciting time in Fall Creek. A teacher led growth plan that will allow our staff to take risks and prepare themselves for a new statewide evaluation model is going to be a bumpy process. The reaction from the staff has been outstanding. I have heard more meaningful conversations with colleagues regarding practice and professional growth than I can ever remember. I am extremely proud of my group…they work hard and want to continue to grow…and when we can grow the impact on kids is enormous.