Hello there and welcome. For some, teacher evaluation can be a hot-button issue. But it won't be in this lesson because we're going to look at the role that collaborative professional development can play in the evaluation process. Let's begin.
I remember playing a lot of sports when I was younger. And I had some very inspirational coaches along the way. Some are considered hard-nosed, and others not so much. Each had their own style of getting the most out of us. One baseball coach I remember in particular had a certain way he would run his practices. Based on the results of the previous game, he would pretty much differentiate what he wanted us to do. If I made an error playing third base, I would be required to take about 100 ground balls the next day. Think professional improvement plan. While I was doing that, others would be given the choice to run, take swings, stretch out, or throw. Think professional growth plan.
Although they share a few commonalities, professional growth plans and professional improvement plans are very different, and the term shouldn't be used interchangeably. Yes, it's true that in both cases the end result is improving your practice. In both cases, plans should be aligned with school and district goals. And in both cases, teachers use an array of resources to get better at what they do.
However, there are some fundamental differences that make each one unique. Let's go through them. A professional improvement plan is almost always used in conjunction with a teacher's evaluation and is explicitly put in place to target a specific area of needed improvement for a struggling teacher. A plan like this is developed exclusively for an individual who is not demonstrating effectiveness in their practice. They are required as part of the evaluation cycle and are monitored closely by the evaluator through observations and feedback sessions.
Teachers generally have very little flexibility as what these plans look like. In many cases, these teachers are provided with a mentor or a coach to support their efforts towards improvement. The hope is for the teacher to move up the effectiveness rating until they no longer need an improvement plan. Unfortunately, if a teacher does not make progress, they are typically kept on the plan until they do or are no longer eligible for employment. Rules vary from state to state, but some, for example, deny recertification for teachers deemed ineffective for five consecutive years. However, at the local level, teachers can be removed from their position prior to that.
On the other hand, professional growth plans are for all teachers and might be part of the evaluation, but they don't have to be. They can be implemented as standalone initiatives for any teacher or collaborative group of teachers who simply want to document or formalize their work towards continuous improvement. It may be related to a new strategy or simply to improve a particular practice by honing their craft. Teachers do have the flexibility to choose, but it certainly makes sense to work with your school leaders to align your plan with a need of yours or your school's goals and initiatives.
To help illustrate these differences, let's look at two scenarios. A teacher's observations consistently reveal serious classroom management issues. This is further evidenced by parental concerns and the number of behavioral referrals coming from that classroom. The teacher is provided with an improvement plan that includes training, observation of peers, and weekly reports to the principal. Notice how in this example the plan was born out of an identified concern and will be closely monitored.
On the other hand, a pair of teachers are excited to launch Google Classroom with their sixth grade math class. They decide to write a professional growth plan that includes meeting with the ELA teachers who are using it already and watching a series of webinars on Google Classroom. In this case, the teachers want to step out of their comfort zone and attempt to implement a new practice with their students collaboratively.
It's important to note that research overwhelmingly and consistently indicates that students who have access to a highly-qualified and well-trained teacher experience higher achievement gains than students who do not. Also, many teacher evaluation models actually require the development of a professional development plan-- or professional goal, as some call them-- as part of the process. Check with your local administrators or union representatives if you're unsure what is expected of you.
Educational researcher Robert Marzano tells us that the teacher evaluation process is meant to help us grow professionally and should be considered a support process designed to improve teacher effectiveness. Even though many models focus on measuring teacher effectiveness through student achievement data, they usually include tools and processes designed to support teacher growth and development. The purpose of these models is to keep raising the bar for teachers so that their work will lead to student growth.
To help get us there, teacher evaluation models include components such as professional growth goals, professional learning objectives, or professional development plans that we can use to guide our own learning. But we don't have to go it alone. We are provided with supports or professional learning opportunities and encouraged to do this collaboratively in areas of need or to grow in areas of content or pedagogical skills.
In this lesson, we dug deep and looked at the differences between a professional growth plan and a professional improvement plan and the purpose of each. And now for today's food for thought-- find out as much as you can about your district's evaluation process. To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, check out the additional resources section that come with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material.
Thanks so much for watching. We'll see you next time.
(00:55-01:23) Improvement and Growth
(03:58-04:28) Additional Notes
(05:25-05:56) Summary/Food For Thought
Linking Teacher Evaluation to Professional Development: Focusing on Improving Teaching and Learning
This report illustrates how to use teacher evaluation targets to develop and frame teacher development.
Creating a Comprehensive System for Evaluating and Supporting Effective Teaching
In this report, Linda Darling-Hammond et al. suggest how to overhaul teacher evaluation systems to support effective teaching.