Professional growth pilot concludes Winters teachers should have more time for collaboration

An in-depth report on the Professional Growth Cycle pilot program found Winters teachers need more time for collaboration for optimized student success.
Graphic: Winters Express
Graphic: Winters Express

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Professional growth pilot concludes Winters teachers should be given more time for collaboration Administrators, instructional coaches and teachers in Winters Joint Unified School District recently concluded a three year Professional Growth Cycle (PGC) pilot created as a new system to evaluate teachers and approved by School Board Trustees and Winters Area Education Association (WAEA) in April 2016. Sandra Ayón, Assistant Superintendent- Educational Services, presented an in-depth report on the Professional Growth Cycle pilot program and an outcome that  Winters teachers should be allotted more time for collaboration with each other and administrators for optimized student success. With oversight of the pilot tasked to Educational Services, Ayón has shadowed, assisted and eventually taken over as lead facilitator from independent consultant Roy Casey over the past three years.  In a previous November 2018 report, Ayón said consistent conversation was key to changing the professional growth culture at Winters JUSD and in this third year of implementation they have found strong conclusions in the outcome of the pilot. Ayón shared through the data analysis three prevailing points of interest were identified that must be sustained. The first being “Learning-focused conversations” were happening between administration, instructional coaches and teachers and an opportunity for reflection on the feedback given. “The time and opportunity for an individual teacher to be provided feedback through a coaching, collaborative, consulting, and calibrating stance provided the most specific and immediate feedback to the teacher,” said Ayón. Ayón also said teachers needed to be given adequate time to collaborate with each other and reflect upon the feedback they’ve received. Currently teachers are not given enough opportunity to meet with peers to discuss feedback before having to move on to the next cycle and theme. “Teachers felt rushed. They want to process what they learned and what they had just talked about,” said Ayón. “They want to do what we’re doing but they need time to do it.” Secondly, “classroom observations” from peers, site administrators and/or instructional coaches provided teachers with relevant feedback to consider and utilize for both  classroom instruction and student understanding and achievement. Ayón said it was critically important for professional growth that time was given to ensure classroom observations took place. “What the administrators are looking for in their walk-through are lesson planning, posted objectives and student engagement,” Ayón said. Thirdly, participants strongly believe that all learning-focused conversations should be based upon the staff member’s goals. Ayón recommended administrators prepare for one-on-one conversations by looking over previous notes for goals and action items to touch on with teachers. The vision of the pilot for the PGC is to foster an integrated system of professional learning that supports student achievement and the articulated growth and evaluation of all teachers. The PGC pledge noted the planning, created environment, provided instruction and responsibilities held were to all make a difference for all students in Winters JUSD. Trustee Carrie Green said there seemed to be a definite benefit for everyone in having more time and questioned what was the plan to allot for it.  Ayón noted making sure prep times matched for peers was a start but admitted it is difficult to achieve in a small school district. “Fifty of 50 felt really stretched because they want to be with the participants, but they have to prepare for the class,” Ayón said. “We need to bring in roaming subs and have money set aside so teachers can observe each other.” Trustee Rudolph Muldong noted this implementation of the program to this next stage in classrooms and conversation among staff would help in student success. “From my perspective this is much more meaningful than the traditional style of evaluation that a teacher would go through,” said Muldong. “The level of the engagement and conversation is more beneficial to the student.” Although the original plan was for Ayón to take on the program from Casey, the district is recommending to keep Casey on with the transition of new site administrators across the school sites. Muldong questioned if it was necessary to hire on Casey again. Ayón said there is a lot of shifting and changing coming in the upcoming school year with three new administrators, a new instructional coach and a change in how the staff is set up with third grade moving to Shirley Rominger Intermediate.  She said a lot of the training and work could be done in-house, but Casey’s presence would be beneficial with all the new changes. “I’d like Mr. Casey to be here for in house coaching. I’m very comfortable with what we’re doing. I’m not afraid to be by myself, but I think his expertise for a full training for people who have not heard of this yet would be best,” Ayón said. Trustee Mike Olivas agreed that her concerns on continuity were valid with three new administrators coming on board. “I would hate to not have that support for you in order for you to maintain that continuity,” Olivas said. Winters JUSD Superintendent Todd Cutler said they would be going over the details to bring back for School Board approval at a future meeting.]]>

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