Creating a plan for the year to support teachers can be daunting. School leaders need to answer many important questions: What are specific ways to support teachers? How can they provide professional learning opportunities that go beyond ratings and checklists? What's the best way to set up an environment that is supportive and conducive to performance improvement?
For teachers and principals, the run-up to the winter break can seem like a mad dash to a (first) finish line. Time is short and instructional improvement goals slip down the priority list.
What to do? Mark your calendar for January. The time after the winter break is perfect for everyone to take stock of progress toward the instructional goals set in the fall. It’s a great opportunity to step back and reflect on how students have been growing and what teachers and principals can do to continue to support them.
Principals often ask us how to talk with teachers about their professional growth since the start of the year. Typical questions include How can I help teachers reflect honestly on their instruction in light of student learning and our school’s goals? and How can I best prepare for conversations about goals with teachers?
In January, teachers and principals often take stock of progress and make plans for the rest of the school year. At the Center for Educational Leadership's (CEL) new Midyear Teaching Tune-up on January 21, 2016 in Seattle, Wash., educators get the chance to analyze impact and refine their goals with the help of CEL experts.
When teachers return to their classrooms in fall, one question at the top of their minds is this: How do I know where my students’ skills are, and how can I adjust my instructional practice to meet their needs?
Setting professional goals anchored to the needs of students — what we call "finding an area of focus" — is a difficult task. As we work with districts on establishing professional goal-setting processes, we often hear from teachers and principals that they are unsure about what kinds of formative assessments of students’ learning they should use to set and assess their professional goals related to instructional practice.
An area of focus is what a teacher chooses to work on in his or her instructional practice in relationship to the strengths and needs of students within the school year. In a new Principal Center Radio podcast, CEL Project Director Joanna Michelson and host Justin Baeder, director of The Principal Center, discuss some of the common problems in finding a good area of focus and how to solve them, including:
The University of Washington Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) will host the Area of Focus Institute, a new professional development event for teams of principals, coaches, teachers and teacher leaders, on September 23, 2015 in Renton, Washington.
New teacher evaluation systems are prompting teachers to formalize their goals for student learning and their own instructional practice – and to collect data to assess progress toward meeting them. This process of goal-setting requires developing an area of focus.
Teachers have always set goals for their students and for their teaching. But what used to be a fairly open-ended conversation in the principal's office or staff room has now become a critical component of a teacher's professional development. Driven by student and teacher growth-oriented evaluation systems, many districts have formalized the process and now require goal setting at least once a year.
But how can teachers authentically set these goals and find the right area of focus for the goals? And how can school and district leaders support teachers in creating goals that positively influence student learning and their own practices?
Before outlining a process that helps identify an area of focus aligned to student and teacher growth and promotes meaningful goal setting, let's first understand what "area of focus" means. An area of focus is what teachers choose to work on in their instructional practice based on the learning strengths and challenges of students in relationship to their teaching.