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Connections to Professional Development

Connections to Professional Development

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, students examine the connections between the teacher evaluation process and planning professional development.

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Welcome. I'm Trisha Fyfe. And in today's lesson, we'll look at the topic, Connections to Professional Development. As we learn about this topic, we will work toward several learning objectives. And we'll use the following two questions to guide our learning. First, what are the connections between the teacher evaluation process, and planning professional development? As well as what are the similarities and differences of a professional development plan, and an improvement plan?

Teacher evaluation models are an essential piece to teaching and making improvements for us as teachers. And to ensure that students have access to the best, most qualified, and effective teachers. According to Marzano, this teacher evaluation process should be a process of support. Essentially, it's designed to improve teacher effectiveness and professional practice.

Many times there are specific tools and helpful processes built into these evaluation models. These tools and processes are created to get the teacher support for growth and development. This is true even where the focus of the model is on measuring teacher effectiveness aligned to student achievement data. In teacher evaluation models, we find professional growth goals, professional learning objectives, and professional development plans. All of these support teachers, and help provide professional learning opportunities for improving areas of need, or growing as a professional in your content area or pedagogical skills.

It's crucial for your professional development plan to be effective. As teachers, we should reflect often. It's important to engage in self-reflection regarding your practice, and use the rubric related to your own teacher evaluation model. We should also consider feedback received from our evaluations in the past. As well as feedback from our instructional coach or our induction coach. A teacher should also consider goals and objectives that are outlined in your own district's strategic plan. As well as your school improvement plan.

Aligning professional development to areas of personal need, or school and district initiatives, is beneficial. Find out what these goals and initiatives are, if you are uncertain. It's also beneficial to ask for feedback or advice from your instructional coach or evaluator, when you're making important decisions regarding your own professional growth goals for the year. It's important to understand your teacher evaluation model. It may require development of a professional development plan, or professional growth goals or plans, as part of your own evaluation process.

Let's consider a scenario. Say, I'm developing a professional development plan in the focus area of Domain 3, Instruction, using Danielson's framework. Within Danielson's framework, Domain 3, Instruction, Component 3c is engaging students in learning. Specifically, grouping of students is where we'll focus. Here's the rubric for that category. And you can see here highlighted, that the highest level of proficiency, or number four, is instructional groups are productive and fully appropriate to the instructional goals of the lesson. Students take the initiative to influence instructional groups to advance our understanding.

As it's important to engage in self-reflection regarding your practice, and use of the rubric related to this evaluation model, this is where I would start. I know that I am having a tough time with instructional grouping in my class. And often times these groups are not as productive as they should be. And then, want to consider feedback received from evaluations in the past, and feedback from my coach.

My instructional coach and I have talked about these issues in the past. And my coach is recommending that I discuss group roles with my class. She also suggests that I incorporate scaffolding of instruction within the groups, and provide groups with opportunities to organize collaborative projects together. Since I should consider goals and objectives outlined in my district strategic plan and school improvement plan, I review these.

My school and district are advocates of collaborative learning opportunities, including flexible groupings, to encourage differentiation. I must be certain when I'm developing this plan that I have a timeline, specific actions to follow, and expected outcomes. I should also be referencing feedback from my coach or previous evaluation in my plan that I am developing. Maybe I decide that for the next unit, which is one month long, students will be placed in cooperative groups. I will review student data and group students according to abilities and needs, ensuring that I have groups diverse in nature.

I will give my students a question to consider, and they'll be organizing a project together to answer that question. There will be a group journal, and checking questions that I will review each day to make sure they're on track. Therefore following a timeline frame. Before the unit begins, we'll form groups, and choose group roles. The groups will have choice, and how they will present the material to offer differentiation.

As a teacher, you know you will be exposed to many different plans and models for improvement. It's important to understand the differences between these. Let's look at the differences between a professional growth or development plan, and an improvement plan. Let's start with the professional growth and development plan. These are for all teachers. Encouraging teachers, and offering opportunities for continuous improvement are the goals here. Students who have more access to teachers that are highly qualified and trained, as well as effective, have higher levels of achievement gains. There's been much research then that points to this conclusion.

In professional growth and development plans, there's flexibility and choice for teachers. Flexibility to design professional development or grows plans to meet their needs. It's important to collaborate with the school leadership and instructional coaches on these plans, in order to ensure that they align with school goals and initiatives. We should also consider areas of need as they are noted in evaluation processes when designing these plans. Development of a professional development plan, or professional growth plan, as part of the evaluation process, is required in many teacher evaluation models.

Let's look at professional support or improvement plans now. Teachers who are not demonstrating effectiveness are often required to develop and use these plans as part of an evaluation cycle. Because of this, there's less flexibility for the teacher within these plans. The plan is often monitored by the evaluator. This is the same evaluator that normally observes this teacher and provides feedback. This evaluator plays a part in determining, if in fact, the teacher is not effective in their practices.

A supportive mentor or coach is often assigned to this teacher for the process of improvement. As this teacher is generally struggling, this is critical. Teachers who make progress begin to move up the effectiveness rating scale in their valuations. Eventually, they no longer need support and an improvement plan. If teachers are not making progress, they stay on the plan until they have made progress. Or at times, until they're not eligible for employment. Five consecutive years of being ineffective is the limit for some states. At this point, these teachers are not able to renew their teacher certification. But before this five year point is up, teachers are closely monitored and supported, and they cannot be denied employment.

Let's take a look at what we learned today. We looked at the questions, what are the connections between the teacher evaluation process, and planning professional development? As well as, what are the similarities and differences of a professional development plan, and an improvement plan? In this lesson, we looked at the purpose for evaluation models. Teacher evaluation models are an essential piece to teaching and making improvements for us as teachers, and to ensure our students have access to the most qualified and effective teachers. We also talked about the process of developing a professional development plan. And finally, we explored the differences between professional growth and development plans, and professional support or improvement plans.

Now that you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. Consider a goal that you have as a teacher. Use the process in this lesson to create a professional development plan.

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson, Connections to Professional Development. I hope you found value in this lesson, and are able to apply these ideas and resources to your own teaching. To dive a little deeper, and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the additional resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material.

Notes on “Connections to Professional Development”


(00:00- 00:27) Introduction/Objectives

(00:28- 01:29) Purpose of Teacher Evaluation     

(01:30- 02:35) Developing a Plan

(02:36- 04:56) Developing a Plan: Example

(04:57- 07:21) Professional Growth Plans Vs. Improvement Plans

(07:22- 08:04) Recap

(08:05- 08:39) Reflection 

Additional Resources

Creating SMART Professional Development Goals

This tool from the Florida Department of Education is great to use when setting SMART Professional Development Goals using the PDSA cycle of continuous improvement.

How to Develop an Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP) For Educators Renewing a Level II License through the DOE Licensing Office

This guide from the Vermont Department of Education is a helpful model for using SMART Goals to create a professional development plan connected to teacher evaluation and certification.