Sunday, May 31, 2015

Professional Growth

The evaluation tool should operate as a support to teachers and administrators, guiding our instructional conferences and encouraging continuous improvement within our craft of educating children.    We should have a strategic plan that changes with the landscape of education throughout our careers.  Educators should focus on building relationships that motivates and creates a love for learning, maximizes instructional time, increases engagement, and empowers students to be life-long learners!  

So, as you finalize your evaluation for 2015 and consider goals for next school year, remember to utilize the evaluation tool as an instrument to flourish, supporting and enhancing your professional growth. 

How should teachers view the professional growth process?   As an experience to:

•             Grow as a professional, creating opportunities to set goals and embrace professional development to sustain growth.  Provide quality differentiated instruction for all students, while focusing on innovative ways to improve classroom instruction and ultimately student learning.

•             Collaborate efforts between fellow teachers, working as a team to improve building climate and instruction. 

•             Be positive!  Embrace change with an open mind and be an active participant during professional growth meetings and instructional conferences.  Be prepared and excited to sustain learning. 

•             Develop high expectations for yourself and students while consistently self-reflecting on your teaching and professional growth. 

•             Build trust and personal relationships with building principal and colleagues, approach the  evaluation process in a professional manner, willing to accept positive and constructive feedback.

•             Be open about concerns or frustrations, working with building principal to problem solve solutions rather than remaining stagnant. 

•             Remain confidential regarding your rating within the evaluation process.  The process should be an experience of continuous improvement and discussing ratings between teachers is not recommended.    It’s another reason why I continue to advocate for the elimination of the highly effective rating, while changing the mindset from an “evaluation” process to a “professional growth” process.

•             Understand that the teacher evaluation process is never final, we are always setting professional goals focused on improvement.

•             Accept that a single classroom observation (one way or another) does not provide the entire picture.  Multiple visits during the year and honest self-reflection is necessary to make a holistic assessment of effectiveness. 

•             Recognize that our children deserve and need effective teachers!  If you are unable sustain a positive evaluation ratting then you must have an honest conversations with yourself, your principal or a trusted colleague.  Find a mentor that can support you, either by reestablishing your teaching skill set or counseling you into another profession. 

•            Embark on all decisions with a basic question:  Is it good for children?

I always value the work teachers and administrators do each and every day.  Our jobs are difficult but extremely rewarding.  Thank you for always putting students first and recognizing their individual needs! 

Reflecting on our effectiveness is important… what we do after we reflect is professional growth! Keep reflecting and making the most of your profession.  Educators are the best!

Have a great week!

Keith Howell

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Modern Learning Questions

During the MACUL15 conference I had the good fortune to attend a session hosted by  @KleinErin @ShawnCRubin @thomascmurray on Personalized Instruction for ALL Learners and Create a Brain-Friendly, Blended Learning Space.  The session was extremely inspirational and generated many great questions that I will continue to focus my learning on this summer:  
  • How much has changed in past 100 years?  Why do classrooms still look the same today as they did 100 years ago?  
  • Where do you want to go to school?  
  • In what type of world will our kids live?  
  • How can we enhance what we already do well?  
  • What motivates our students?  
  • Can we make learning memorable?  
  • “Kids are instant!”  How can we prepare curriculum and instruction that matches their learning style?   
  • How can we personalize instruction?
  • What digital learning tools are needed to enhance personalized instruction and student collaboration?
  • How can we restructure our day?  
  • What are the learning outcomes we want for our students?  What technology is to be the “accelerator” to those learning outcomes?  
  • What should we “put up” in our classrooms?  Should we ditch the desks?  
  • How should we arrange the layout in the classroom?  What does good design look like?  
  • Should we create “Maker Spaces” within our classrooms and schools?  
  • Are we Future Ready?  
  • What is best for kids?  
The inspirational session may have lead to additional questions for me; however, it is these questions that will continue to drive our educational beliefs and decision-making about modern learning.  I look forward to using these questions as a guide to enhance personalized instruction for all learners while creating a blended learning space that is brain-friendly.  What exciting times in education!

Please share what your summer learning will consist of this year.
Enjoy teaching and learning!

“We should strive to be the teacher that we want our own children to have!”  @KleinErin