Posted by Ali Wright on Tuesday, 05/27/2014
Now that the CTQ-Global TeacherSolutions report is starting to hit inboxes, let’s take a look at the five recommendations it makes for developing 21st-century professional learning systems and how progress is being made in my home state of Kentucky.
1. Rethink how teachers’ time is allocated. Although many schools support teachers via coaching and instructional support roles, the majority of their time is spent providing interventions to students and creating and maintaining databases. Kentucky’s new Teacher Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (TPGES) requires every teacher to have a peer observer, but it remains to be seen whether those observers will have release time to complete their responsibilities, which include both observing and conferencing with teachers who are being evaluated. I am concerned that peer observers will be expected to perform these tasks in addition to their current responsibilities, which reduces the already limited amount of time that they have to collaborate with colleagues.
2. Connect teacher evaluations with professional learning systems. TPGES could potentially make this a reality for Kentucky teachers—if the system is implemented with fidelity. Right now, it seems that most professional learning activities focus on PGES itself—understanding domains, how to enter observation data or provide evidence, and so on—rather than how future professional learning will be linked to the outcome of teachers’ evaluations. Ideally, teachers will be able to choose professional learning opportunities based on their individual reflections and indicated growth areas. Although this is already happening on a small scale in conversations between administrators and teachers based on professional growth plans, it is not yet systematic.
3. Value opportunities for teachers to learn from one another. I am hopeful that teachers who are deemed “exemplary” in certain areas by TPGES standards will be valued for their expertise—and not just with a gold star. Those teachers should be treated as true exemplars and given the time and space to lead other teachers who are struggling with specific domains. How amazing would it be if teachers were paired and given release time to collaborate and observe one another’s classrooms, or maybe even co-teach?
4. Establish career pathways encouraging teachers to lead without leaving the classroom. As a CTQ Teacherpreneur, I am trusted to lead in new ways. I have the unique opportunity to establish my own leadership path rather than try to fit myself into a structured role established by someone else. In education, we encourage teachers to be innovative in their classrooms, yet our leadership pathways for them are far from that. I talk to teachers every day who would relish the opportunity to become a teacher leader—teachers who readily and willingly lead the profession from within their classroom walls.
5. Expand professional learning offerings and access points. This is one recommendation from the CTQ-Global TeacherSolutions report that Kentucky teachers (and others nationwide) are already seeing come to fruition. Teachers can access a variety of professional learning resources via PD360, an online training platform, in addition to a myriad of webinars and virtual collaboration opportunities such as the CTQ Collaboratory. Now the next step is to give a group of Kentucky teachers time to vet these opportunities and create a “best of the best” list to save their colleagues valuable time in researching resources.
Overall, I am optimistic about the future of professional learning in Kentucky. As we transition from the old system requiring 24 “seat time” hours each year to a newer system embracing technology and collaboration and linking to a teacher effectiveness system, I am hopeful that more innovative leadership pathways will emerge and that teachers will be valued as the true experts of professional learning.
How does your state compare? How does it address these five recommendations for professional learning systems?