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Appx F_TAC Report

Appx F_TAC Report

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Published by Julian A.
Appx F_TAC Report
Appx F_TAC Report

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Published by: Julian A. on May 13, 2013
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Center for Teaching Quality | 605 W. Main St. | Suite 207 | Carrboro, NC | 27510
Seattle TAC Recommendations 2011-12 Bar Below
Collaboration and Evaluation Structuresto Improve Teaching and Learning
Recommendations from the 2011-12 Seattle Teacher Advisory Council 
How Do We Improve Teaching and Learning in Seattle?
That question was the one that opened the work of the Seattle Teacher Advisory Council (TAC) in fall2011. In September, leadership of the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and Seattle Education Association(SEA) jointly convened the TAC to explore this open-ended charge. It may go without saying, but groupslike ours are rare in the education world, and in Seattle especially. Typically, conversations betweendistrict and union leadership happen primarily at the bargaining table, where there is little room for opendialogue that helps each party better understand the other’s perspectives and priorities. What’s more,unless they’re on the bargaining team for their local union, most teachers don’t have the opportunity toenter into direct dialogue of any kind with these leaders.Our district and union decided they wanted something different. Seattle schools are going through majorchange now, particularly in the way that teachers and principals are evaluated. The Seattle TAC wascreated to be a safe space in which classroom experts could explore ideas that
thought would have themost impact district wide. Freed from the politics of elections and contracts, we have been able to explorethe
that matter most to teaching and learning. We met over eight months as a diverse group of 21teachers, teacher librarians and coaches from every school level, serving every type of student populationin every region of SPS. We have radically different personal backgrounds, ideologies, and analyses of whatthe “real problem” in education is. But we all share pride in our work as professionals, commitment to ourstudents, and willingness to set aside our preferred silver bullets to enter into conversation about whatmight really work, practically and sustainably.
Here’s where we agree: reforms are just another set of passing changes unless we find ways to transform the
cu l t u r e 
of teaching and learning in our schools.
Our conversations haverevolved around three key issues:
Ensuring that implementation of our new ProfessionalGrowth & Evaluation (PG&E) system represents a real shiftfrom focusing on compliance with human resources policiesto focusing on improving the practice of 
Seattle teacher;
Building trust throughout the district to enable learning andgrowth to thrive among teachers, other staff, and ultimately students and the wider community that supports our schools;and
Rethinking the way that teachers spend their time, to meet both these needs.This report captures our deliberations, and our solutions, from thepast year. We offer these to SPS, SEA, and the Seattle community as starting points for conversations that we look forward to having in 2012-13 and beyond.
The 2011-12 TAC members meet in April 2012 with facilitators from the CTQ staff and membersof the district administration
Center for Teaching Quality | 605 W. Main St. | Suite 207 | Carrboro, NC | 27510
Seattle TAC Recommendations 2011-12
Our Recommendations
Facilitate communication between teachers and evaluators under theProfessional Growth and Evaluation (PG&E) system that shifts theculture of evaluation from “gotcha” to growth.
The challenge
The PG&E is designed to offer actionable feedback to teachers so that they can grow professionally and become effective teachers of every student they serve. However, Seattle teachers and evaluators areaccustomed to shorter, less frequent, and less nuanced conversations about teacher observations. What’smore, while many schools’ evaluators and teachers share open lines of communication and high degreesof trust, it’s not true of every Seattle school. Research shows that such trust is critical to having the kindsof candid conference conversations that can add up to better classroom practice and improved schools. We need to find ways to structure more trusting communication between teachers and their evaluators if the PG&E is to work in the way that the union and district envision. We also believe that we can’t stop there in our efforts to improve instruction and our profession.Transforming teacher and principal evaluation is about more than just coming to agreement on bettermechanics to assess professionalperformance. As Jeff Ursino said, theconversation about evaluation in Seattleschools has to expand past “the ‘how dothey judge us’ pieces, which is a defensiveexercise at best” to “a new paradigm thatmakes the process an honest dialogueabout ‘what works?’ and that puts the onusfor providing quality instruction on theteacher-administrator team as part of asystem-wide educational environment.” Inother words, trust and better professionalrelationships aren’t just an input into a better evaluation system. They will alsoresult from a renewed commitment to aschool culture that values being effectiveover looking effective—for every professional within the Seattle Public Schools.
Proposed solutions
Teachers need to be able to count on getting specific recommendations on how to grow and improve instruction—and to ensure that evaluation is about growth rather than just asummative rating—in alignment with the goals of the PG&E.
Evaluations ultimately aren’t aboutaccountability; they’re about helping teachers change how they teach for the better. TAC members notedthat especially at the secondary level, it is rare that an evaluator has expertise in the content area andgrade level taught by all the faculty they evaluate. Since evaluators may not have mastered the content
 Noah Zeichner, Jeff Ursino, and Gerardine Carroll (foreground) flesh out recommendations from the TAC 
Center for Teaching Quality | 605 W. Main St. | Suite 207 | Carrboro, NC | 27510
Seattle TAC Recommendations 2011-12
and/or the pedagogical strategies needed to teach students in those classes, they simply may not be ableto carry on pre- and post-conferences that offer the specific, growth-driving suggestions and questionsthat teachers need. For instance, it’s a rarity to get feedback that is content-specific on math instruction because that expertise doesn’t exist among evaluators in every building.
TAC members aren’t in complete agreement about the value of peer evaluators per se.However, we do think that the district and union might explore ways to leverage peerexpertise so that every teacher’s practice can grow—even if his or her evaluators don’tshare a background in teaching the same content area or grade level.
We think that co-teaching is one promising model for helping early-career teachers in Seattle schools develop theirclassroom practice, and helping the most effective teachers to spread their expertise to colleagues.However, it might be an idea to explore for any teacher whose evaluator doesn’t share a similar teaching background. PLCs are being used in these ways in some TAC members’ schools—another promisingpractice to explore.Dedy—an elementary ELL coach herself—has notedthat coaches already play these kinds of non-evaluativesupport roles. While they may also share information with administrators who are teachers’ formalevaluators, she says, “the non-evaluative component, inmy opinion, is the key in cementing trust withteachers.” With that in mind, coaches’ (and otherteacher leaders’) roles should be protected against being made into “para-adminstrator” positions. That way, these professionals can support teachingcolleagues on a peer-to-peer basis as critical but helpfulfriends who facilitate growth, rather than just reportingon it. Content knowledge counts, though John andothers noted that having knowledge about pedagogicalstrategy matters just as much: “Teachers can know their‘stuff’ and still be struggling with how to pass that ‘stuff’on to their students successfully.”
Similarly, teachers need continuous access toevaluators or others who can help them reflect andimprove, so that the concept of “evaluation” has todo with an ongoing professional growth process,not just a summative rating.
For instance, TACmembers suggested having a short mid-year check-in thatdocuments how you are doing in relation to the goals you setfor the year. That way, you’d know how “on track” you wereto meet goals and could adjust your practice to benefitstudents now rather than waiting for an end-of-yearevaluation. However, evaluators have limited time already,so adding more to their plates doesn’t seem practical. Thismay be another opportunity to access peer feedback throughPLCs, co-teaching, or coaches who are not part of formalevaluation processes to just-in-time assistance to teachers who need help, or want to refine what already works well.
 John Affolter, Dedy Fauntleroy, and Janet Boglein discussion at a TAC meeting. Dedy presented to the SPS School Board on the TAC’s behalf in March 2012.” The TAC’s process for developing theserecommendations modeled a balance of individual reflection and team collaboration. In foreground, Ami Pendley, Mary SueWalker, and Gina Hamilton

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